12 Aug 2022, 16:14 PM

STA, 12 August 2022 - An environmental organisation has lost a legal battle against the Environment Ministry's decision to allow the culling of 222 brown bears in Slovenia this year, by the end of September.

In a decision taken on 16 June, the Administrative Court ruled the lawsuit by Alpe Adria Green was unwarranted. The judgement is non-appealable.

The decision to allow the culling of 222 brown bears by 30 September was issued by the Environment Ministry in February but was stayed by the court in March pending its decision on Alpe Adria Green's appeal.

The organisation argues that every such culling permit is illegal and that under Slovenian and international legislation it is permitted to cull only those bears that have been proven to have attacked humans or to be jeopardising people or property.

The court based its decision on the hearing of two Ljubljana Faculty of Biotechnology professors, who were both involved in the expert opinion that was one of the basis for the culling permit.

The Best Way to Photograph Bears in Slovenia

With the culling the country's brown bear population would be reduced from an estimated 1,000 to around 800 animals.

The court found the planned culling would not "harm the maintenance of a favourable conservation status of the bear population in Slovenia".

It rejected the argument that the interest of the protection of human health could be achieved by individual culls and said the planned culling was warranted duo to increased number of human-bear conflicts as a result of the density of the bear population.

Alpe Adria Green and an animal rights society AniMa disagree with such a position, noting that the court failed to consider data on hunting tourism and public promotion of culinary offerings of bear meat.

12 Aug 2022, 10:29 AM

STA, 12 August 2022 - Brežice Seviqc, an internationally renowned festival of early music, will get under way at the Devil's Tower near spa town Dolenjske Toplice on Friday with a concert by Serbian lutenist Andrej Jovanić. The festival will take place at picturesque venues in Dolenjske Toplice, Brežice, Šmartno pri Litiji, and Loška Dolina.

The long-running festival will also feature the Slovenian trio OperArija, consisting of soprano Petra Vrh Vrezec, baritone Al Vrezec and organist Gregor Klančič. They will perform in the church of St Lovrenc in Brežice in the east of the country.

Another concert will be given at Bogenšperk Castle in Šmartno pri Litiji, east of Ljubljana, featuring Italian cellist Federico Toffano.

The festival will then move to Brežice Castle for a solo soncert by Spanish violinist Jorge Jimenez. Other artists to perform there will be mezzo-soprano Jana Janku, violinist Martin Flašar, flautist Lucie Lukašova, harpsichordist Kamila Dubska and Katerina Stavkova on viola da gamba, who is form the Czech quintet Musica Poetica.

The last evening of the festival will take place on 20 August at Snežnik Castle in southern Slovenia, where the Slovenian three-member ensemble Messa di Voce will perform along with Colombian cellist Johanna Lopez Valencia on viola da gamba.

The trio consists of Urška Cvetko - recorder, Mojca Jerman - violin, and Izidor Erazem Grafenauer - baroque guitar and theorbo. The concert is already sold out.

One hour before each concert, talks with the musicians will be organised.

The festival was established in 1982. In 1997 it was moved from Radovljica in the north-west to Brežice, a year later it spread to neighbouring municipalities, and later to a number of venues across the country.

The name Seviqc is a contraction of the Latin "semper vita quam creata", which translates roughly as "always live as created", as the music performed at the festival remains faithful to the era when it was created.

See more at the website

12 Aug 2022, 10:17 AM

STA, 11 August 2022 - Italy's allegations about Slovenia's violations of EU legislation on geographically protected balsamic vinegar are unfounded, the Slovenian Agriculture Ministry told the STA on Thursday as it responded to recent reports that the Italian government is demanding infringement proceedings against Slovenia.

At the beginning of this week, news broke that the Italian government has called on the European Commission to launch infringement proceedings against Slovenia to safeguard the authenticity of Italy's geographically protected balsamic vinegar.

Italy has been opposing Slovenia's draft regulation on vinegar and dilute acetic acid quality for a year and a half now, as they believe it would broaden the definition of balsamic vinegar.

Given that the European Commission has not issued any binding opinion on this, and based on an EU court decision from 2019 that ruled in favour of a German company selling its vinegar products under the label balsamic, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food is confident that the regulation in question is not contrary to EU law.

They have been informed about Italy's moves through media reports alone. "We have not received any official information from either Italy or the European Commission," they wrote in their response.

The allegations are unfounded because balsamic vinegar is a generic term in common use and not in conflict with protected geographical terms registered by Italy, they said. The label Aceto Balsamico di Modena is protected, whereas non-geographical words used in this expression, such as "aceto" and "balsamico" and their combinations or translations are not.

Slovenia notified the EU of the regulation in December 2020, after which only Italy expressed strong opposition to the document in early March 2021. Slovenia then responded to the formal objection, but so far no feedback has been received from Italy or the Commission.

The ministry moreover noted that the regulation did not wish to do any harm to the reputation of protected Italian balsamic vinegar, as Slovenian products in this field would be marketed the same way as they have been so far.

12 Aug 2022, 06:38 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

TV Slovenija journalist appointed UKOM boss

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed journalist Petra Bezjak Cirman, most recently the head of the broadcaster's works council and the workers' representative on RTV Slovenija's supervisory board, acting director of the Government Communications Office. She succeeds Dragan Barbutovski, who stepped down earlier this week. Prime Minister Robert Golob said that Barbutovski was being replaced because he lacked the organisational and managerial skills to run an office that the government would want to get help from in the war on hate speech.

Govt launches dialogue with NGOs representing old and young

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Rober Golob met with representatives of NGOs advocating for the young and the old. The meeting, which Golob said was "definitely not the last", agreed on the creation of task forces which will address some of the most urgent issues. Golob listed issues such as scholarships for the young, the pensioners' expectations regarding pension increase, and access to mental health services for the young, which he said required immediate and decisive action. He said a clear wish was expressed that the young and the old addressed issues together.

NLB doubles H1 profit to EUR 287m

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's largest banking group, NLB, reported EUR 287 million in profit after tax for the first half of 2022, a 105% increase year-on-year. The growth was mainly driven by positive effects related to the acquisition of N Banka, formerly Sberbank. The profit of the core bank NLB fell from EUR 77.1 million to EUR 66.9 million. NLB Group's operating profit rose by 7% to EUR 358.1 million, with N Banka, part of NLB since March, contributing EUR 14 million to the result.

Job vacancies at 15-year high in Q2

LJUBLJANA - There were almost 25,900 job vacancies advertised in Slovenia in the second quarter of the year, the highest number since the Statistics Office started carrying out this survey in 2008. Most of the vacancies were available in the hospitality sector. Vacancies in quarter two rose by 6% compared to the first quarter and by a quarter, or almost 5,100 vacancies, compared to the second quarter last year. Demand for workers was higher in all industries expect in mining, manufacturing and real estate.

Businesses unhappy with reversal of tax reform

LJUBLJANA - Business associations expressed opposition to government plan to revoke parts of the tax reform adopted by the previous government, including a progressive increase in the general tax relief for all earners, urging the government to withdraw the legislative proposal and draw up a comprehensive reform instead. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business and the Association of Employers in Trade Crafts and Smalls Business find the proposal would annul the positive effects of the amendments to the personal income tax act passed in March even before they are fully implemented.

Wednesday's Covid case count broadly flat w/w

LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,614 people tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, only 1.3% fewer than the same day a week ago as the pace of decline in infections has been slowing down. Official data shows three patients with Covid-19 died on Wednesday as 100 required hospital treatment for the disease, then of whom required intensive care. A total of 275 hospitalised patients were infected. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 of the population has dropped to 964 and the 7-day case average to 1,406.

Grounded festival to foreground issue of responsibility

LJUBLJANA - The 6th edition of Grounded, a festival that blends critical thought and activism with electronic music, got under way in Ljubljana, with its discursive part focusing on responsibility, which the organisers say remains a non-topic in both the social and legal spheres. The three-day festival opened with a discussion on the responsibility for war and peace in Ukraine, while other topics featured include responsibility for a decent life for culture workers, the state's past transgressions towards vulnerable groups, and the free speech vs hate speech dilemma.

Young cross-country skier killed in crash in Norway

STAVANGER, Norway - Hana Mazi Jamnik, an up-and-coming cross-country skier, has been killed in a traffic accident during training in Norway, the Slovenian Ski Association said. The 19-year-old was roller skiing through a tunnel on the road between Forsand and Joerpeland in south Norway when she was hit by a lorry. She was badly injured in the crash and airlifted to a hospital in Stavanger, where she died, according to Sportal, a sports news website.

Maribor out of contention for Europa League

HELSINKI, Finland - Slovenian football champions Maribor have failed to qualify for the Europa League, having lost to HJK Helsinki 1:0 in the return leg of the third round of qualifying. The score was 3:0 on aggregate. The club, which currently ranks last in the domestic championship with a single win in four games, will now enter the qualifying for the third-tier Conference League.

Slovenian makes graphic novel based on Pahor's Necropolis

AURISINA, Italy - Jurij Devetak, a Slovenian from Trieste, has finalised a graphic novel based on Necropolis, the 1967 autobiographical novel by his fellow Triestine author Boris Pahor, who participated in the creation of the book. Pahor died on the same day when Devetak finished the graphic novel, on 30 May. Mladinska Knjiga will publish the book in mid-August.

11 Aug 2022, 11:58 AM

STA, 10 August 2022 - The Court of Audit has issued the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) an adverse opinion for its 2020 operations, establishing a number of shortcomings and irregularities regarding jobs, pay, allowances, purchase of services and oversight of funds, while also taking issue with the academy's legal status.

The audit report, released on Wednesday, says that two sets of internal rules were adopted and signed by the administrative director, who is not authorised to do so.

It also reveals shortcomings in the document classifying jobs at SAZU, including failure to specify the number and types of certain jobs at individual organisational unit.

In one vacancy advertisement, SAZU did not set down all the job conditions required for that job, thus lowering the job criteria.

One employee was placed in a higher pay bracket than her starting bracket and was thus overpaid by EUR 100 monthly.

She also received a higher monthly years-of-service allowance, and without an agreement on increased workload, a performance bonus of EUR 4,700.

Two workers meanwhile received full pay despite being unable to do the tasks in line with the employment contract because they worked from home.

Six workers received EUR 822 more than they should in commuting costs.

The court also finds SAZU Day problematic in that it is a work-free day for SAZU staff while they receive pay as usual.

It notes in the report that in Slovenia, a worker has the right to a work-free holiday only on the country's bank holidays and other work-free days set down by the law.

The audit report also identifies a failure to establish adequate internal oversight in awarding funds to SAZU's Science and Research Centre (ZRC).

SAZU did not verify the legal basis and the amount of funds for invoices of at least EUR 5,000 before paying the money to ZRC, says the report.

It also avoided the application of the public procurement act when purchasing printing and publishing services, and purchased software services that were available free of charge.

The court moreover points out the dilemmas regarding the legal status of SAZU and the impact the vagueness has on its operations.

Under the SAZU act, the academy is an autonomous institution of its members and a public legal person with rights and obligations set down in the SAZU law and in the SAZU statute. Conditions for its work and development are secured by the Republic of Slovenia.

The court has issued a set of recommendations for SAZU to eliminate the irregularities and tasking it to report back to it on the progress.

SAZU said it would fully follow the recommendations and would duly report back to the court on the remedial measures implemented. SAZU president Peter Štih also said that most of the flaws found by the court had been tackled in the meantime.

11 Aug 2022, 11:51 AM

STA, 10 August 2022 - Prime Minister Robert Golob has proposed that TV Slovenija journalist Petra Bezjak Cirman be appointed the new head of the government Communications Office (UKOM). Earlier on Wednesday, the prime minister's office confirmed for the STA that Dragan Barbutovski was leaving the post after just over two months on the job.

Bezjak Cirman is to become acting director of UKOM. She will expectedly be appointed in the coming days.

She has worked as a journalist at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija for years before becoming the head of the broadcaster's works council and the workers' representative on RTV Slovenija's supervisory board.

Bezjak Cirman told the STA that she was looking forward to a new challenge but also that this was a hard decision to make because she loved being a journalist. Nevertheless, she sees the heading of UKOM as a significant step in her career.

Bezjak Cirman has been a top workers' representative at the public broadcaster at a time when employees of RTV Slovenija protested against political meddling by the then UKOM boss Uroš Urbanija and the previous government.

Urbanija's time in office was marked by withdrawal of funding for the STA and weekly commentary about TV Slovenija production. Only a few weeks ago, he was appointed TV Slovenija director by the broadcaster's director general Andrej Grah Whatmough.

Barbutovski, who replaced Urbanija in early June, will in the future be working in the prime minister's office as foreign communications officer.

The newspaper Dnevnik was the first to report about Barbutovski leaving UKOM, citing differences within the ruling Freedom Movement as regards expectations and work methods at the office.

A press release from RTV Slovenija announcing that Bezjak Cirman was leaving the broadcaster said that Barbutovski had resigned as UKOM boss. It also said that Grah Whatmough agreed to cut Bezjak Cirman's resignation notice period, so that she could start working at UKOM as early as next week.

The prime minister's office said that coalition parties had been warning against hate speech in politics already before the April election and that UKOM was one of the bodies that should pay special attention to this.

11 Aug 2022, 06:38 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Pahor and Erdogan discuss cooperation, Ukraine, W Balkans

ANKARA, Turkey - President Borut Pahor met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan before wrapping up his two-day state visit to Ankara. The presidents confirmed the good and friendly relationship between their countries. They discussed the war in Ukraine and the Western Balkans, agreeing to meet again on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in late September to revisit the topics. Pahor and Economy Minister Matjaž Han also addressed a business event aimed at strengthened trade and investment. The countries also signed a bilateral agreement on education, science and sports.

Change at helm of Govt Communication Office

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob put forward TV Slovenija journalist Petra Bezjak Cirman for the new head of the government Communications Office (UKOM) after news broke that Dragan Barbutovski was quitting after only a little more than two months on the job. Like Barbutovski, Bezjak Cirman will be named acting director of UKOM. Barbutovski will in the future be working in the PM's office as foreign communications officer. The newspaper Dnevnik cited differences linked to the ruling party's expectations and work methods at the office as the reason for the replacement.

Chief labour inspector resigns

LJUBLJANA - Jadranko Grlić, the country's chief labour inspector, resigned in the wake of a TV report on another case of exploitation of foreign workers in recent months. The Labour Inspectorate said he had stepped down over differences of opinion with the Labour Ministry about the powers and manner of work of the inspectorate. Minister Luka Mesec indicated change at the helm of the Labour Inspectorate as he commented Tuesday on TV Slovenija report about exploitation of Indian workers at a Ljubljana car wash.

NBI oversight finds minor flaws in Covid procurement probe

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that the oversight of the work of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ordered by the new police commissioner found that the NBI leadership was not in hurry to wrap up the investigation targeting former Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek over emergency procurement in the early stages of the Covid-19 epidemic. The report obtained by the paper finds no major flaws and concludes that NBI investigators handled investigations comprehensively and that those were on principle run continuously and at the right pace.

Italy starting proceedings against Slovenia over balsamic vinegar

ROME, Italy - The Italian government is launching infringement proceedings against Slovenia to defend the authenticity of its geographically protected balsamic vinegar, according to reports by the Austrian and Italian press agencies APA and Ansa, and the British newspaper The Guardian. Italy first objected over a year ago to Slovenia's draft regulation on vinegar and dilute acetic acid quality, which sets down that any vinegar mixture with concentrated fruit juice or must could be labelled balsamic vinegar.

Gynaecologist Senčar 11th to announce presidential bid

LJUBLJANA - Gynaecologist Sabina Senčar joined ten hopefuls who have so far announced their bids for the 23 October presidential election. She intends to run with the support of, a non-parliamentary party founded amid the Covid epidemic to oppose restrictions. Senčar criticised the manner in which the authorities had managed the epidemic, saying the world had ground to a halt in the past two years and a half due to the disease while "we aren't any healthier today".

Covid cases remain on downward trajectory

LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,714 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Tuesday, down 3% week-on-week. Six Covid patients died, the Health Ministry said. The number of people hospitalised for Covid-19 as their primary condition declined by eight in a day to 96, of whom twelve require intensive care, down by three. The 14-day case notification rate per 100,000 people dropped by ten in a day to 983 and the 7-day case average is down by 33 to 1,408.

Socerb fire contained

KOPER - Some 150 firefighters, five Slovenian and two Italian helicopters and two Italian water bombers largely contained the fire under Socerb hill on the Slovenian-Italian border. The fire is no longer spreading, Koper fire brigade official Jan Brodar said in the afternoon, expressing optimism about the night ahead. A new team of roughly 120 firefighters will keep an eye on the fire during the night.

Key power company gets new supervisory board

LJUBLJANA - GEN Energija, the parent company of the state-owned power group that also includes the Krško nuclear power plant, has got a new supervisory board after the previous line-up was dismissed by Slovenian Sovereign Holding on Tuesday for what it described as a loss of trust over "appropriate corporate governance at GEN Group". GEN Energija CEO Blaž Košorok had served as a state secretary at the Infrastructure Ministry in the previous government until he was appointed to the post in late March.

Industrial output drops slightly in June

LJUBLJANA - The value of industrial production was down 0.2% in June compared to May, driven by declines in all relevant fields. It continued to increase year-on-year though, as it was 0.8% higher than in June 2021. The value in the first half of the year was also 2.9% higher on the annual level, the Statistics Office said. After three months of growth, the monthly drop in June is a result of declines in mining and quarrying, which recorded a 6.8% drop, in electricity, gas and steam production (-0.7%).

Court of Audit finds several flaws at SAZU

LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit issued the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) an adverse opinion for its 2020 operations, establishing a number of flaws and irregularities regarding jobs, pay, purchase of services and oversight of funds, while also taking issue with the academy's legal status. The audit report also identifies a failure to establish adequate internal oversight in awarding funds to SAZU's Science and Research Centre (ZRC). SAZU said it would act on the court's recommendations.

Attempted murder convict gets 15-year prison sentence halved

LJUBLJANA - Media reported that the Supreme Court had almost halved the 15-year prison sentence against an elderly man for attempting to murder his neighbour in 2018, reclassifying the crime from attempted murder to attempted manslaughter. Jože Šercer took his shotgun, hid in the bushes waiting for the neighbour and shoot her as she was leaving her home to go to work. He hit her in the right arm and stomach, but the woman managed to escape and survived the attack.

10 Aug 2022, 15:15 PM

STA, 9 August 2022 - Public broadcaster TV Slovenija has reported of yet another grave case of exploitation of foreign workers in Slovenia. Indian workers were reportedly forced to work 60-hour weeks at a Ljubljana car wash for less than the minimum wage after having their passports taken away. Amonte, the company operating the car wash, has denied the allegations.

TV Slovenija reported on Tuesday that the group of Indians ran away from the Avtostop car wash, located near the BTC shopping district, because of grave threats levelled at them by the employer.

Two of them turned for help to Delavska Svetovalnica, an NGO specialising in the rights of migrant workers.

The 12 men were staying on the premises of the employer and one of them has said that assistant director of the company would come to their bedrooms drunk at night.

He allegedly threatened the workers that their employer knew national and local politicians and had connections in the police and the military.

The Financial Administration, the Labour Inspectorate and the police conducted separate oversight visits at the firm in July, TV Slovenia said, adding that the procedures were still ongoing.

The day before the Labour Inspectorate visited the company, the men were given back their passports, after which they were taken away from them once again. The frightened workers then called the police.

Goran Lukić of Delavska Svetovalnica said that "the employer is obviously in the know about potential oversight visits".

Amonte director Semir Hajdarpašić meanwhile rejected the allegations, but refused to appear on camera. He believes this is an attempt at blackmail.

The workers had been complaining about work conditions from the beginning, had demanded higher pay and then disappeared, he said. He also believes the workers used his company to continue their way to Northern Europe.

The report comes just two months after modern slavery reports at two fish-packing companies employing foreign workers.

10 Aug 2022, 10:59 AM

STA, 9 August 2022 - The new school year is to kick off with home coronavirus testing for those showing symptoms and for those who were in contact with an infected person, experts have decided. Classrooms are to be ventilated very frequently, as often as every 20 minutes during the winter, while windows should remain open during warmer seasons.

An education task force, one of the sub-groups within the National Institute of Public Health's coronavirus advisory group, today expressed support for the guidelines the advisory group put together last week.

Nives Počkar from the Secondary School Headteacher Association told the STA that the main goal was to avoid shutting down schools. She hopes people will accept home testing as part of a responsible attitude required so that schools and preschools remain open.

The plan entails two scenarios that will be implemented depending on epidemiologic situation.

If the situation remains similar to now, home testing will be obligatory for those with infection symptoms and those who have been in contact with an infected person.

However, if a new variant creating a high risk of severe illness starts spreading, a second scenario will be implemented, requiring weekly home testing for all students and teachers.

In both cases, home tests will be available for students free of charge at pharmacies.

The education task force also supports the recommendation of frequent ventilation of classrooms, Počkar said.

Since only few schools have ventilation systems installed, ventilation will be created by opening windows.

10 Aug 2022, 10:20 AM

STA, 10 August 2022 - A fire that broke out during Monday night under Socerb hill in the Koper municipality near the border with Italy has been brought under control, but has not yet been put out, authorities said on Wednesday morning. Given how bad it looked at a certain point yesterday, the situation is relatively good now, they added.

A total of 130 firefighters remain on the ground as the extinguishing effort has been taken over by the day shift, David Hrvatin, the head of the night shift with the Koper Fire Department, told the STA.

The night shift included some 130 firefighters and 40 vehicles, the Defence Ministry said.

Support from the air hit pause during last night after helicopters and water bombers participated in the effort throughout Tuesday, but aerial firefighting will again play a major role today.

Two Slovenian Armed Forces helicopters have returned to the site this morning to help put out the fire, and a Pilatus aircraft is expected too. A police helicopter will be monitoring the area with a thermal imaging camera.

Yesterday evening two hotspots were still active and the main cause for concern was the bora wind, but now the situation looks more promising.

About 15 hectares were on fire yesterday afternoon, shows data from the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration, but Hrvatin estimates the figure increased slightly towards the evening.

Koper Mayor Aleš Bržan said in a press statement on Tuesday that the drinking water supply on the Slovenian coast was not yet at risk. The Civil Protection indeed redirected some water tank trucks to the fire site that were initially meant to bring the much-needed extra supplies to the municipality, but the coastal area was then soon provided with additional trucks, he said.

10 Aug 2022, 06:43 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:

Pahor discusses Ukraine war effects for W Balkans in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey - President Borut Pahor started a two-day state visit to Turkey by meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu and addressing the annual meeting of Turkish diplomats. The pair discussed the war in Ukraine and its consequences for the Western Balkans, with Pahor praising Turkey for its role as mediator between Russia and Ukraine, especially as regards grain exports. The war in Ukraine was also the main topic of Pahor's address to the Turkish diplomats, which he delivered upon a special invitation by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he is scheduled to meet tomorrow.

Fire under Socerb hill getting close to nearby villages

KOPER - A fire broke out last night under Socerb hill in a hard-to-access area near the border with Italy, south-east of Trieste, and has not yet been contained, as a strong bora wind helped it spread downhill towards the villages of Osp in Slovenia and Prebenico in Italy. The firefighters on both sides of the border were helped out by helicopters and water bombers until dusk, while they fear the bora, which is forecast to blow on Wednesday and Thursday. No evacuation was needed on the Slovenian side of the border so far. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Second coronavirus booster recommended for elderly, chronic patients

LJUBLJANA - The number of Covid-19 infections has not been increasing, but the number of those hospitalised with Covid is not decreasing either, so Bojana Beović, head of the advisory committee on immunisation at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), recommended those over 80 and those with chronic diseases to get a second booster immediately. Those over 60 are also advised to get a second booster shot. Immunologist Beović, who also heads the Medical Chamber, expects that vaccination for the entire population will probably be sensible in autumn, alongside flu jabs.

New school year to start with coronavirus self-testing

LJUBLJANA - The new school year is to start with home coronavirus testing for those showing symptoms and those who have been in contact with an infected person. If a new variant creating a high risk of severe illness starts spreading, weekly home testing for all students and teachers would be recommended, according to last week's decision of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) coronavirus advisory group. The decision was endorsed today by the sub-group for education. Its member Nives Počkar told the STA the goal was to avoid shutting down schools. NIJZ is to present the two-scenario plan on Wednesday.

Coronavirus infections keep receding

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reported 2,402 new cases of coronavirus for Monday, 9% fewer than the same day a week ago as cases kept falling week-on-week for the 12th day running. Six patients with Covid-19 died, fresh data from the Health Ministry shows. The number of patients needing hospital care for Covid-19 dropped by nine from Sunday to 104. Data from the National Institute of Public Health shows the 14-day case notification rate per 100,000 people falling by 28 in a day to 993.

New case of foreign worker abuse reported

LJUBLJANA - Public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported that 12 Indian workers had been forced to work 60-hour weeks at a Ljubljana car wash for less than the minimum wage after having their passports taken away. The group eventually ran away from the Avtostop car wash and two of them turned for help to an NGO specialising in the rights of migrant workers. The Financial Administration, the Labour Inspectorate and the police conducted separate oversight visits at the firm in July, but the procedures are still ongoing. Amonte, the company operating the car wash, denied the allegations. Its director Semir Hajdarpašić believes this is an attempt at blackmail.

Parts of anti-money laundering act in for constitutional review

LJUBLJANA - The information commissioner has asked for constitutional review of part of the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing act that is based on two inspection proceedings and related to processing of personal information. "There are serious and objective reasons to suspect that the legal regulation of personal information processing by the Office for Money Laundering Prevention is unconstitutional in a certain part," the newspaper Delo quoted the request to review nine articles of the act by Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik.

Region's largest fire lab soon to open in Slovenia

LOGATEC - The Slovenian Building and Civil Engineering Institute (ZAG) will open a new fire laboratory in Logatec in September in what it says will be the only such facility in this part of Europe. The EUR 11 million investment is to allow further advances in the research of fire resistance and flammability of materials and structures. The laboratory, spanning a surface area of 3,500 square metres, will provide facilities to test fire resistance of products made in Slovenia and abroad. The new building will also headquarter ZAG's new Department for Research of Fire-Safe and Sustainable Built Environment.

Fraport Slovenija still in red in Q2 but on upward trajectory

BRNIK - Fraport Slovenija, the operator of Ljubljana's international Jože Pučnik airport, reported a loss of roughly EUR 300,000 for the second quarter of 2022, but the result is a significant improvement on the EUR 2.1 million loss posted in the same period last year. The company more than doubled revenue year-on-year, from EUR 4.2 million to EUR 8.7 million. The net loss for the first six months stands at EUR 2.5 million, coming on EUR 14.7 million in revenue. Compared to the same period last year, revenue rose by 98.6% while the loss decreased by EUR 2 million.

Few owners opt to enter public rental housing scheme

LJUBLJANA - There seems to be little interest among housing owners in renting out their property through a public rental housing service that the national Housing Fund set up this year to increase the number of flats available at not-for-profit rents. As a result, the fund has sub-rented out only six units so far. Apart from owners finding the rent too low, the fund believes that to secure more flats - 200 is the target in the ongoing call, legislative changes would be needed because owners have problems obtaining the documents they need to enter the scheme.

Ljubljana residents promised to be kept warm in winter

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković promised the residents they will be kept warm this winter despite the energy crisis. Coal reserves are sufficient to provide district heating to nearly half of all homes and there will be enough natural gas, but the question is at what price gas will be available, he said at his weekly press conference. He is planning to meet Environment Minister Uroš Brežan later this month to discuss how the financial burden of emission coupons for the use of coal could be alleviated and to determine the energy sources for district heating.

Agriculture minister meets Carinthian Slovenian reps

KLAGENFURT, Austria - Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko met representatives of the Slovenian minority in the Austrian state of Carinthia to discuss the minority's work and development, with an emphasis on agriculture, the ministry said in a press release. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food noted that it had been cooperating well with the Slovenian agricultural organisations in Carinthia for many years.

Minister talks to reps of Slovenian communities in S America

LJUBLJANA - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon talked with representatives of Slovenian communities in Latin America via video link. They presented to him activities of their communities living in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and Bolivia, while the minister underlined the importance of preserving the Slovenian language, which, he believes, should be given special attention, the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad said in a press release.

MyKoroška app guide to bilingual town names in Carinthia

KLAGENFURT, Austria - The Austrian province of Carinthia is home to a sizeable Slovenian ethnic community, something that has been reflected in the names of places for centuries. More than 900 such places can now be found by their Slovenian or German name in an app called MyKoroška. The app, which can be downloaded for free, is an upgraded version of an app developed some ten years ago, Martin Kuchling of the Klagenfurt-based Christian Cultural Association recently told the Slovenian desk of the Austrian public broadcaster ORF.

Piran on CNN's list of 15 prettiest small towns in Europe

WASHINGTON, US - The Slovenian coastal town of Piran has made it to a list of the 15 prettiest small towns across Europe by the US television network CNN, which described it as a "mini Venice". CNN's Julia Buckley says in her article that although Slovenia has a "sliver of coastline" sandwiched between Italy and Croatia, it is home to several beautiful towns, including Piran, which boasts "a stout belltower, frothy architecture, and fishing boats docked in the tiny harbor".

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