26 Jan 2021, 18:32 PM

STA, 26 January 2021 - A new political movement called Povežimo Slovenijo (Unite Slovenia) has emerged. The initiative is wants to bring together a number of smaller, non-parliamentary parties, groups, local initiatives and individuals of various values and political stances to form a joint slate for the next general elections.

The movement's programme and its cooperation strategy is based on Slovenia's constitution and has been modelled on such projects abroad, most notably in Austria and Switzerland where big-tent pre-election coalitions are frequent.

The initiator and coordinator of the movement is vice president of the Greens Nada Pavšer, who believes that the emerging list could get at least 20% in the next election.

The response so far has been very positive, she told today's press conference presenting the initiative. The Greens head Andrej Čuš thinks the movement will be a success story.

He highlighted that there had been enough negative stories and suggested that the movement would appeal to undecided voters by striving to overcome political polarisation. The movement is to nominate its own candidate for prime minister.

The initiative aims to give a voice to civil society and not only politicians, and back good proposals regardless of their source, he said.

The Greens executive committee and the People's Party (SLS) main committee have already confirmed their cooperation in the initiative, he added.

Marjan Podobnik of the SLS believes that such cooperation could be welcomed by voters who have not been casting their ballots in recent years.

Among a host of public figures and parties that are reportedly discussing cooperation with the movement are the New People's Party of former Maribor mayor Franc Kangler, the list of Celje Mayor Bojan Šrot, Koper Mayor Aleš Bržan's list as well as Zdravko Počivalšek, the leader of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC).

Počivalšek, whose party has been ranking low in opinion polls for months, said in the movement's presentational video that "every act of cooperation within the political centre is beneficial and necessary to reach equilibrium in our political arena".

"The SMC also works on bringing together the liberal centre," he said.

Among those who also featured in the video were the president's adviser and former Constitutional Court judge Ernest Petrič, Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) head Branko Meh, the head of the Pensioners' Association (ZDUS) Janez Sušnik, head of an inter-municipal association of the blind and visually-impaired of Slovenia Luj Šprohar, musician Oto Pestner, and judoka Lucija Polavder.

The former head of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) Aleksandra Pivec confirmed for RTV Slovenija yesterday that she had discussed potential cooperation with the initiative, however her primary plan remains to form her own party.

At this stage the emerging party is not entering any movement, she said, but it will be willing to cooperate.

26 Jan 2021, 14:26 PM

STA, 25 January -2021 The programming council of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija has appointed Andrej Grah Whatmough the new director general. Currently the chair of the broadcaster's supervisory board, he will succeed Igor Kadunc, who was eliminated in the first round of voting.

Grah Whatmough received 14 votes in the first round of voting on Monday and was then endorsed by the majority on the programming council in the run-off against Natalija Gorščak, the director of the broadcaster's TV division.

The new director had been mentioned as candidate for director general in an unsuccessful attempt to oust Kadunc last year. He will start his four-year term at the end of April.

Having graduated in law in 2008, Grah Whatmough owns a translation and interpreting company and his LinkedIn bio says he works as an independent tax law specialist.

He has been on the broadcaster's supervisory board since 2015 and was originally nominated by the Modern Centre Party (SMC).

26 Jan 2021, 12:21 PM

STA, 25 January 2020 - After another spray-painting of the Slovenian names on bilingual city limit signs in Austria's Carinthia, Slovenian minority organisations again condemned the incidents and called on the authorities to conduct a systematic and organised campaign to find the perpetrators. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry also expressed concern.

About a week ago, unknown perpetrators spray-painted the Slovenian names on bilingual city limit signs in the municipalities of Bleiburg (Pliberk in Slovenian) and Eberndorf (Dobrla Vas).

Another six signs were vandalised in the same way in Eberndorf last weekend.

Responding on Monday to the latest acts of vandalism, the National Council of Carinthian Slovenians (NSKS) said that these were systemic and well-organised acts are attempts to erase the Slovenian language in the public in Carinthia.

"It seems that we are returning to the past times," it said, adding that it expected from the relevant authorities to conduct an accordingly systematic and organised campaign to find the perpetrators.

The NSKS noted that such acts were inadmissible and subject to criminal prosecution under Austrian legislation. "What we need in Carinthia is a deep and lasting change of paradigm," it added.

The organisation thinks that the perpetrators want to create tension in southern Carinthia ahead of the upcoming local elections in February.

The acts have also been condemned by the Community of Carinthian Slovenians (SKS), whose president Bernard Sadovnik called on the locals to help the police find the perpetrators.

"Despite the acts having not been clarified yet, it is encouraging that the population and political representatives clearly reject such acts of vandalism," he said.

Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser condemned the acts in a statement on Sunday. "Such behaviour is completely unacceptable for the open society into which we have developed in recent years," he said.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry expressed concern today, noting it expected the Austrian authorities to find the perpetrators as soon as possible and protect the constitutional rights of the Slovenian community in Carinthia. It also said that diplomatic activities in relation to this were under way.

The acts from week ago have also been strongly condemned by Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitch, while Foreign minister Anže Logar told the Foreign Policy Committee last Wednesday that Slovenia regretted and condemned the incident.

23 Jan 2021, 14:10 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 22 January 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Most interest groups find govt to their liking

STA, 22 January 2021 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest editorial that political scandals in Slovenia no longer have an epilogue in the form of political consequences. It is naive to expect a smooth path towards bringing down the Janez Janša government as capital and private interest groups thrive under it.

Mladina recalls what was the main reason for the fall of the previous coalition - a bill to abolish top-up health insurance, the first serious attempt in years to cut off an inflow of public funds for insurers.

What followed was like "a bad film about corruption". One by one, senior officials opposed the proposal as well as half of the then coalition parties. "Lobbying action by health insurance companies was (again) successful."

That is why it took so long for the current opposition parties to mend their relations, says Mladina, highlighting the role ties between parties and capital interest groups play in political developments.

Those groups also paved the way for the Janša government. Since it assumed office a number of scandals have revealed that persons or companies close to the government have benefited from public funds.

"We don't claim that such incidents were not part of previous governments. On the contrary, of course they were, however revelations were followed by political consequences. Today politicians don't even care anymore that they have been caught doing such things."

Mladina says that the public has not been desensitised to such conduct with extremely low government ratings and support for coalition parties reflecting that. All this will affect the future course of Slovenian politics since even fewer people with at least basic ethical principles will enter politics due to its bad reputation.

Voter turnout will be affected as well and interest groups will be even stronger. "By the way, just to mention something - last year, insurers charged the same top up insurance premiums for all the months, even though the insured had access to considerably fewer services due to the epidemic than they would in a typical year."

Most of these interest groups find it much easier to find common ground with the current government when it comes to channelling public funds. The ruling Democrats (SDS) is a party that behaves as a company in the political arena, says Mladina, noting that all the interest groups are aware of that.

Regarding the motion of no confidence in the government, the weekly thinks a chance it succeeds is slim, however the editorial, headlined End of Halftime, concludes that only a month ago, the opposition had 39 votes and now it numbers 42.

Demokracija: The Left, freedom and the state

STA, 21 January 2021 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija berates the left in discussing its view of the role of the state in society in the latest editorial, asserting that the same people that would repress freedom under normal circumstances demand absolute freedom in a state of emergency.

The piece headlined Living (Through) Leviathan notes that in the book with the same title Thomas Hobbes argued for a rule by an absolute sovereign with the argument that human nature was bad and weak, while states in the Christian civilisation were limited, following the belief that man is in principle a good and rational being who can take decisions and is personally responsible for them.

"Social experiments turned the situation upside down. The basic premise became that man was in fact bad so he had to have limits set and every individual should be taken as a potential criminal. Under such conditions human nature changed too. People suddenly started giving up to the state care for their health, old age [...]

"The left is the loudest in its demands that the state should take care of everything. Every step the incumbent centre-right government makes back to what is natural is labelled as sabotage of democracy."

As two examples the weekly offers the proposal that people should decide themselves which NGO they want to allocate part of their income tax to, and the freedom of speech and the tech giant's decision to close down social network profiles.

"It is interesting how the left started to invoke private property. The same property they had despised until yesterday. Or movement restrictions at the time of the Chinese virus. All of a sudden, the left demands absolute freedom of movement, every measure of the Janša government is termed as a new stone paving the way to totalitarianism. This from people who forced citizens for decades to be dependent on the state, stole their freedom [...].

"During the time of the Spanish flu, stringent restrictions and the wearing of masks proved the most efficient measures. Even though people were much more free than today (and consequently more responsible) they stuck to the measures.

"Today, the very people who would suppress freedom in normal circumstances, want absolute freedom in a state of emergency. Without assuming responsibility for their harmful conduct, they have been trying to bring down a legitimate government for months and want to put in the executive people who did not even stand in the latest election or failed to make it through the election sieve."

All our posts in this series are here

23 Jan 2021, 11:21 AM

What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 15 January
        LJUBLJANA - An informal coalition of centre-left opposition parties filed a motion of no confidence in the Janez Janša government with the backing of 42 of the 90 deputies of the National Assembly, putting forward Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Karl Erjavec as candidate for prime minister. However, Erjavec withdrew the bid on 19 January, after an opposition MP tested positive for coronavirus and several others waited for their test results, and would thus be unable to attend a secret ballot scheduled for 20 January.
        LJUBLJANA - PSS, one of the two trade unions in the Slovenian police force, which started a police strike to demand higher pay on 11 January, filed criminal charges against Interior Minister Aleš Hojs over his publishing of a document with pay data for nearly 9,000 members of the police force and ministry employees.
        LJUBLJANA - Energy company Petrol said it had taken over an outright stake in Croatian petroleum products seller Crodux as a result of which Petrol would acquire 91 service stations in Croatia once the deal was cleared by regulators. The deal was signed on 12 January.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Faculty of Medicine came into spotlight as it transpired that Covid-19 vaccination there had been extended to non staff. Allegedly the shots that were left after staff inoculation were administered to doctors' relatives to use all the prepared jabs.
        LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption said it had determined a breach of integrity and provisions banning the accepting of gifts in a case concerning Aleksandra Pivec, the former minister of agriculture, during her two visits to the coastal region in 2019 and 2020 in which she reportedly mixed business with family matters and which ultimately led to her resignation first as Pensioners' Party leader in September and then as agriculture minister in October.
        MARIBOR - Almost all workers on the morning shift at A&E Europe, the American-owned Maribor sewing threads manufacturer, went on strike to demand better pay after talks with the management failed to make progress since a token strike in December.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry said Slovenia would like to buy an Alenia C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft made by Leonardo under a government-to-government contract with Italy.

SATURDAY, 16 January
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša said he believed a hard lockdown that would involve limiting people's movement to within a certain radius around their home may not be necessary due in particular to the introduction of rapid testing. The effects of vaccination are starting to show as well, he added.
        CELJE - Health Ministry State Secretary Marija Magajne announced Slovenia would receive 20-25% less Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine than planned on 18 January due to production adjustments at Pfizer, which delayed the first-dosage vaccination.
        LJUBLJANA - The head of the SOVA intelligence agency, Janez Stušek, tested positive for coronavirus, so nine MPs who attended a session of the Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services on 15 January had to be tested. They later all tested negative, but the situation contributed to the opposition-sponsored motion of no confidence in the government to be withdrawn.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulated Armin Laschet on his election as the leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), tweeting that he was looking forward to future cooperation between his Democrats (SDS) and the CDU.
        LJUBLJANA - Rating agency DBRS Morningstar confirmed Slovenia's credit rating at A (high), noting that the trend on all ratings was stable, in what the Finance Ministry said was another proof that Slovenia remained a trustworthy country despite the difficult situation.

SUNDAY, 17 January
        LJUBLJANA - After a group of parents recently filed a constitutional review proposal of the closure of primary schools and kindergartens, the government said that if the Constitutional Court stayed the implementation of the decree, that would be contrary to all the prevention measures and would mean direct harm to public health.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry called for "immediate release" of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. "Unhindered activities of opposition politicians are the foundation of a free democratic world," the ministry said on Twitter.

MONDAY, 18 January
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia expressed support for a vaccine travel certificate as the EU's Europe ministers launched a debate on the issue with Gašper Dovžan, Foreign Ministry state secretary for European affairs, saying this "could strengthen the four European freedoms in accordance with the principles of EU law".
        LJUBLJANA - After questions were raised about rapid antigen tests used for mass screening and their efficacy, Health Ministry State Secretary Marija Magajne told reporters the ministry's inquiry into the matter showed the test kits complied with relevant national guidelines and WHO standards regarding their sensitivity and specificity.
        LJUBLJANA - Speaker Igor Zorčič and his Montenegrin counterpart Aleksa Bečić discussed in a video call Slovenia's support for Montenegro's EU bid, ways of strengthening bilateral cooperation, and the epidemiological situation in their countries, and expressed satisfaction with the excellent bilateral relations.
        BLEIBURG, Austria/LJUBLJANA - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch strongly condemned the incident in which unknown perpetrators spray-painted the Slovenian names of bilingual signposts in Pliberk/Bleiburg and Škocjan v Podjuni/Sankt Kanzian am Klopeiner See in the state of Carinthia, Austria on Saturday night.
        LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin said the Slovenian Armed Forces had managed to reverse the negative staffing trend in 2020, as 222 members of the permanent force and 73 members of the contractual reserve had been hired.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana city council endorsed a revised budget for this year to expand the original one by EUR 34.35 million to EUR 439 million. The city is to spend EUR 187.3 million on investments.
TUESDAY, 19 January
        LJUBLJANA - The national lab said a strain of the novel coronavirus very similar to the highly virulent English mutation had been detected in the smear test sample of a person who recently arrived in Slovenia from England.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša said he expected 70% of the Slovenian population could be vaccinated against coronavirus by the beginning of summer as he presented fresh figures on planned deliveries of vaccines that indicate Slovenia should get significantly more jabs in the second quarter than previously thought.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj announced after meeting social partners that he would set the minimum wage for 2021 at EUR 1,024 gross. This is 120% of the minimum cost of living and the lowest possible rise under minimum wage legislation. The state is to cover roughly 40% of the rise at the cost of EUR 47 million to the budget under the 8th economic stimulus package now in the making.
        LJUBLJANA - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said that the first transfers from the EU's recovery fund should be made during Portugal's EU presidency in the first half of this year, as member states including Slovenia are rushing to ratify the legal basis and draw up national recovery plans.
        LJUBLJANA - Members of an autonomous social and cultural community that have been squatting the defunct Ljubljana bicycle factory Rog for years were forcefully removed from the premises as the Ljubljana authorities started tearing down buildings on the site as part of long running efforts to remake the rundown site into a new creative hub.

WEDNESDAY, 20 January
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government decided nine of Slovenia's twelve statistical regions will enter the red tier of coronavirus restrictions on 25 January, which allows for partial school reopening, after new cases and hospital figures dropped below thresholds set in the exit strategy, and the coronavirus curve has been flattening for the last ten days. Additionally, ski lifts, as well as shops selling children's items and museums, galleries and libraries were allowed to reopen in the regions from 23 January.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 154,306 coronavirus cases and 3,284 Covid-19 deaths by 20 January, with an estimated 19,541 infections still active, according to National Institute of Public Health.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced he had sent congratulations to the newly sworn-in US President Joseph Biden, being one of the few world leaders who had not congratulated Biden on his election victory before the inauguration.
        LJUBLJANA - The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) drafted a motion to oust Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Janez Cigler Kralj over the ministry's decision to grant funds to an NGO with close links to the minister. Other parties were invited to join in.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee that Slovenia regretted and condemned the recent vandalising of bilingual signposts in the Austrian province of Carinthia. He said Slovenia's ambassador to Austria Ksenija Škrilec had written to the Austrian authorities about the incident.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Police Committee debated the government declaring the Lebanon-based political party Hezbollah a criminal and terrorist organisation as a whole, with most of its members endorsing the decision.
        LJUBLJANA - A total of 42,410 people have so far been vaccinated against Covid-19 in Slovenia, about 2% of the population, Marta Grgič Vitek, the vaccination coordinator at the National Institute of Public Health, said, noting the biggest problem was limited supplies of vaccines.
THURSDAY, 21 January
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor welcomed the US's rejoining the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organisation under President Joe Biden. "Multilateralism has regained encouragement and value. This is important for Slovenia, the EU and the whole word," Pahor said on Twitter. Meanwhile, climatologist Lučka Kajfež Bogataj assessed the US's return to the climate deal brought hope the agreement would actually start to be implemented.
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed the 2021 financial plans of the Pension and Disability Insurance Fund (ZPIZ) and the ZZZS public health insurance fund, valued at EUR 6.2 billion and EUR 3.4 billion, respectively, with balanced revenue and expenditure.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to provide protection to children in criminal procedures either as victims, witnesses or perpetrators. It establishes a safe house where children will be interviewed in a neutral environment.
        LJUBLJANA - Maja Brkan, the candidate for Slovenian judge on the General Court of the EU, was unanimously endorsed by the parliamentary Privileges and Credentials Commission, the final step before the National Assembly vote, where she needs 46 of the 90 votes.
        LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of state-owned telecoms operator Telekom Slovenije appointed four new members of the supervisory board and changed the articles of association.


23 Jan 2021, 10:17 AM

STA, 22 January 2021 - Slovenian Ambassador to Italy Tomaž Kunstelj and the foreign and culture ministries are opposed to the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art's involvement in an exhibition showcasing the imagery of heroism in the former Yugoslavia at the MAXXI museum in Rome, the left-wing magazine Mladina reports in the latest edition.

The ambassador finds the exhibition scandalous, in particular considering that Slovenia is observing the 30th anniversary of independence from Yugoslavia this year.

In a dispatch to the Foreign Ministry on 12 January, part of which is published by Mladina, Kunstelj says the main reason for his opposition is that the project is linked to the theme of the former Yugoslavia and does not showcase achievements of Slovenian arts.

In the dispatch he says the embassy "will not promote or organise exhibitions from Slovenia on the topic of ex-Yugoslavia, in particular not during the 30th anniversary period".

The Foreign Ministry told the STA they agree with the ambassador that the "exhibition cannot be part of cultural and promotional programme to observe the round anniversary of statehood or the programme of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU".

The Culture Ministry said the ambassador did not demand for the exhibition to be "banned, he only expressed his opinion that it is not suitable to be included in the project to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence or the Slovenian presidency of the EU".

It added that the exhibition "unfortunately does not pursue such goals and values of international promotion of Slovenian culture and arts globally" as to be included in the programme of two international projects of such importance.

According to Mladina, MAXXI - National Museum of XXI Century Arts decided to put on the show as part of the years-long running presentation of contemporary arts in the broader Mediterranean region.

The show Bigger than Myself. Voices of Heroes from Ex-Yugoslavia will showcase contemporary arts from the region of the former Yugoslavia with heroism as the recurring theme.

The Rome museum invited Zdenka Badovinac, the former director of the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art, to edit the show. It involves more than 50 artists from countries of the former Yugoslavia, including more than ten directly linked with Slovenia.

The show was to be put on as early as 2018, but the opening has been postponed several times due to organisational problems and the coronavirus pandemic. It was to be on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ljubljana from October to December.

The museum told the STA today it had not been informed of the ambassador's opposition to the show. "We have learnt about the ambassador's letter from Mladina, which is unacceptable as the Embassy and or the Culture Ministry should check facts with us as well."

Badovinac told Mladina that the exhibition was fully financed by the Italian museum. She believes the ambassador's letter suggests his "not being informed of the facts and his judging the exhibition based on national criteria, which is unacceptable in the modern world".

The opposition Left protested against the ambassador's dispatch in a press release today, saying the government was interfering not only in the programme of the Ljubljana museum but also in that of MAXXI, an internationally acclaimed private museum.

22 Jan 2021, 15:20 PM

STA, 22 January 2021 - Several associations have expressed support to members of an autonomous social and cultural community who were evicted from the defunct Ljubljana bicycle factory Rog earlier this week. The Slovenian PEN centre condemned the "brutal violence" with which there were evicted, while Mayor Zoran Janković rejected accusations.

Members of the PEN centre said the incident was "unbecoming of democratic Slovenia" just as the attitude towards a Radio Študent journalist, a retired Večer journalist, and writer Vesna Lemaič.

"Their mission to report and write about the developments was jeopardised in the most brutal way and thus freedom of speech was jeopardised, which is something we are particularly aspiring for in the spirit of the PEN Charter."

The centre regretted that dialogue had been completely abandoned and that "violence spoke instead". It called on the municipality to protect the personal items of the members of the community which they have been unable to take with them or pay them compensation, and foremost offer them new rooms.

"Their art is the soul and image of our capital Ljubljana, which encourages culture and is UNESCO's city of literature. Dialogue is undoubtedly the only democratic way to a solution to this problem," the centre said.

The Rog community was also supported by the local Ljubljana committee of the Left party, the Asociacija society, NGO Peace Institute, and the Association of Culture Workers.

The latter said the battle for Rog was a battle for "all of us who do not accept the dictatorship of the capital culture". It noted that the cultural community there was "precious not just for the city but also wider".

In the last 15 years, Rog has been a "centre of critical thought, a hub for social movements, a sanctuary for all those who are being marginalised by the capital", a "place of friendship, comradeship, ideas and projects".

"Rog has been a symbol of all those who are rejecting profit, gentrification, rightist violence, capitalist repression, Janšist Orbanisation," reads a press release issued by the association.

Author and artist Svetlana Makarovič said after the incident she was renouncing her title of honorary citizen of Ljubljana. In a statement for the STA on Thursday, she said she was "deeply hurt and outraged by the thoughtless and harsh eviction of Rog residents, especially because animals that had shelters there were also subjected to the violence."

Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković responded to the incident on Thursday, saying that nobody had been at the defunct factory at 7am on Tuesday, when workers accompanied by security guards entered the premises to start demolition with a construction permit after all attempts of mediation failed and based on all court rulings in favour of the municipality.

Supporters of the Rog community and members of the community started to gather in Trubarjeva Street later, and tried to enter the Rog area in a violent way, which police prevented, he said in a Facebook post, stressing that the violence had been provoked by those who wanted to enter Rog in a violent way.

He said that all items that are not owned by the municipality would be recorded and taken to the Snaga waste collection centre in Povšetova Street, where owners would be able to collect them after a prior notice.

The mayor said the municipality planned to build a new Rog culture centre that would provide rooms for more than 500 artists and creative groups on more than 8,000 square metres.

21 Jan 2021, 12:17 PM

STA, 20 January - Several Slovenian politicians have become the target of defamatory statements recently, reflecting heightened political tensions. Some officials have reported incidents to police, others are considering doing so.

In the latest in a series of such incidents, someone spray-painted the word "rat" on the fence gate of Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Karl Erjavec.

The photo of the gate was posted on Twitter by Marjan Šarec, the head of the eponymous opposition LMŠ party, who added a caption reading "we know who called people rats in the 1930s - here we go again, apparently".

DeSUS told the STA that Erjavec had reported the incident to the police, which have confirmed that the investigation has been launched.

A while ago an inscription reading "Lucifer" appeared on the pavement in front of Erjavec's house.

Such insulting or even threatening graffiti, messages or posters targeted at politicians have been a frequent occurrence lately, particularly since efforts to call a vote of no confidence in the government emerged.

Erjavec's bid to become PM-designate was withdrawn yesterday due to Covid-19 infections in parliament, however the opposition still plans to go ahead with the procedure when all MPs are able to vote in person.

Another target of recent political insults or threats has been Branko Simonovič, a DeSUS MP who decided not to contribute his signature to the now withdrawn no-confidence motion.

Posters have appeared on the coast, where Simonovič resides, showing photos of him and coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) MPs with a caption that seemed to be displaying a choice between freedom, symbolised by support for the no-confidence motion, and fear, illustrated with the swastika symbol.

There were also posters focusing on SMC MP Gregor Perič with an inscription reading "Hero or traitor?" that appeared in front of his home and at the coastal town of Izola.

In Ljubljana one could spot posters or fake election campaign adds for SMC MPs with the additional party acronym SDS, alluding to criticism that the SMC is bowing down to the ruling Democrats.

Various graffiti and posters targeting individual MPs emerged already last year. Prime Minister Janez Janša told commercial broadcaster Nova24TV on Sunday that he received some 100 death threats a day, mostly via social media platforms.

Between March, when his government was sworn in, and the end of 2020 the police recorded 18 cases involving threats against government representatives and persons who are in any way related to the government's work. In ten cases perpetrators have been found and some investigations are still ongoing.

21 Jan 2021, 12:06 PM

STA, 21 January 2021 - Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša announced late Wednesday evening that he had sent congratulations to the newly sworn-in US President Joseph Biden.

"For those curious: Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulated today the new US President Joe Biden on taking the oath," wrote Janša, highlighting that he did it the same way and in similar words as in 2005 when he, also as prime minister, congratulated the then US President George W. Bush.

"Slovenia and the US were NATO allies then and are today," he added.

Janša was one of the few world leaders who had not congratulated Biden on his election victory before yesterday's inauguration.

Before the election, he endorsed Donald Trump and said Biden "would be one of the weakest US presidents" if he wins.

When it was becoming clear that Biden had won, Janša reposted tweets by Trump and his supporters that made allegations about election fraud and stolen elections.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor congratulated Biden when the election results were released, calling for Slovenia and the US to stay friends and strong allies. Pahor reiterated his congratulations yesterday and wished Biden good luck.

20 Jan 2021, 13:20 PM

STA, 20 January 2021 - Slovenia recorded 1,698 coronavirus infections from 11,308 tests on Tuesday as the seven-day average of new infections and hospitalisations fell below the threshold set by the government to move from black to red tier where the easing of restrictions can start by regions.

Data released by the government show that 5,384 PCR tests and 5,924 rapid antigen tests were performed yesterday, with positivity rates of 25.9% and 5%, respectively.

The daily increase in cases marks a 19% decline on the same day a week ago and is the first time since late October that Tuesday's case count fell below 2,000.

Data from the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik shows that the seven-day average has thus fallen to 1,297, which is below the 1,350 mark set by the government in its colour-coded, five-tier strategy of coronavirus restrictions as one of the criteria to move from top black tier to tier red.

The other criterion is Covid-19 hospitalisations, which government data show fell below the 1,200 mark to 1,178, 22 fewer than the day before after 125 patients were discharged. 181 patients or six fewer than the day before required intensive treatment.

The government will decide on potential easing of measures today with PM Janez Janša saying yesterday no drastic relaxation was to be expected yet.

Another 26 patients with Covid-19 died yesterday, to bring the overall death toll to 3,257, according to the tracker site.

Slovenia has so far reported more than 152,800 coronavirus cases.

Details of the tier system

Black tier
No. of infections: more than 1,350
Hospitalisations: more than 1,200

– Measures as they are currently in place

Red tier
No. of infections: under 1,350
Hospitalisations: under 1,200

– Kindergartens reopen along with the first three grades of primary schools under model C, which means in small groups and in line with all safety recommendations. Lab courses are allowed for students
– Museums, libraries, galleries reopen
– Contactless outdoor sports activities are allowed along with individual and family exercise
– Car repair shops and similar services, ski centres, certain shops reopen (regionally)

Orange tier
No. of infections: under 1,000
Hospitalisations: under 1,000

– School reopens for the remaining primary school students and final years of secondary school under model C, at the university level exams and seminars with up to ten people are allowed
– Reopening of certain other services, shops
– Assembly of up to ten persons allowed
– Free movement among municipalities with adherence to safety measures (the measure will be applied regionally)

Yellow tier
No. of infections: under 600
Hospitalisations: under 500

– School reopens for remaining high school students and university students, student dorms reopen
– All remaining services reopen
– Curfew lifted in the entire country (optionally only for some regions)

Green tier
No. of infections: under 300

– No more restrictions for the entire country
– General hygiene measures remain in place, bars and night clubs remain closed

20 Jan 2021, 09:53 AM

STA, 19 January 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša said he expected 70% of the Slovenian population could be vaccinated against coronavirus by the beginning of summer as he presented Tuesday fresh figures on planned deliveries of vaccines that indicate Slovenia should get significantly more jabs in the second quarter than previously thought.

Figures presented by Janša show deliveries in the first quarter should be 50,000 higher than indicated last week, as nearly 300,000 shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is to be delivered, along with 50,000 shots of the Moderna vaccine and nearly 559,000 shots of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, which is still awaiting approval by the European Medicines Agency.

In the second quarter Slovenia expects to get 2.4 million shots compared to fewer than 1.7 million shots projected last week, mostly due to a doubling of deliveries by Pfizer/BioNTech to 1.4 million shots.

"The second quarter will be the most important quarter ... If the deliveries come through, we'll achieve a 70% vaccination rate by the beginning of summer and contain the epidemic within our borders," Janša said.

The EU's goal, due to be confirmed by EU leaders at a virtual summit on Thursday, is to vaccinate all health workers and everyone over the age of 80 by March; 70% of the total population should get the vaccine by the summer.

According to Janša, Slovenia could achieve this objective a month earlier assuming all vaccine deliveries are made as scheduled.

Slovenia's vaccination strategy, adopted in December, remains unchanged, which means the elderly and critical staff - respectively persons with highest risk of severe Covid-19 and those at highest risk of contracting the virus - have priority.

Institutions performing the vaccinations have been instructed to have lists of vaccination candidates from the same priority group available in the event those scheduled for vaccination do not show up, or if they have excess shots for any other reason, according to Janša.

The latest data on Slovenia and coronavirus

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