28 Nov 2021, 12:14 PM

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

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

FRIDAY, 19 November
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed a bill on additional measures for curbing the consequences of epidemic, envisaging special one-off payments for the most vulnerable such as pensioners, old farmers without pension and people with disabilities, and fresh stimulus measures for business.
        LJUBLJANA - The government proposed a compensation scheme for those who have suffered serious health damage as a result of a Covid-19 vaccine, a step Health Minister Janez Poklukar said was key to maintaining confidence in the vaccines. Compensation of EUR 60,000 would be paid to those who suffer a serious and permanent reduction in their vital functions after vaccination.
        LJUBLJANA - The State Prosecution Council welcomed the government's decision to refer the council's pick of the pair of candidates for delegated prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO). Both the council and experts said such an act cannot be temporary. The European Commission said the appointment was a step in the right direction.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The EU's General Affairs Council endorsed conclusions highlighting the strategic importance of water, a move hailed by Slovenia as a landmark in water diplomacy and a major achievement of the Slovenian EU presidency.
        LJUBLJANA - The MPs representing the Italian and Hungarian minority tabled legislation that would raise the language requirement for teachers and other staff working in bilingual schools and kindergartens.
SATURDAY, 20 November
        LJUBLJANA - Simona Kustec stayed on as minister of education after a motion of no confidence in her was voted down following more than 14 hours of debate during which the opposition alleged that her management of the portfolio has been disastrous, especially when it comes to dealing with Covid-19 at school, and Kustec framing the vote as an attempt to silence women in politics.
        LJUBLJANA - Hit the Road, a family road trip movie by Iranian director Panah Panahi, won the Kingfisher Award, the main award handed out at the Ljubljana International Film Festival. Panahi's debut feature is a multi-layered portrait of an Iranian family and Iranian society at large set in a road trip through north-western Iran.

SUNDAY, 21 November
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs rejected allegations about the police organisation changes being an attempt to politicise the force. Hojs sees the new law as the first step towards a more professional police that would reduce any political interference, whereas the opposition maintains the opposite.

MONDAY, 22 November
        LJUBLJANA - Marjan Dikaučič remained justice minister after 42 MPs voted in favour of a motion of no confidence, four short of the required majority. He was endorsed by 28 MPs as several deputy groups, including the junior coalition NSi, abstained.
        OTOČEC - A plaque commemorating the Slovenian-Croatian bilateral meetings and cooperation, celebrating the 30th anniversary of independence of both countries was unveiled with prime ministers Janez Janša and Andrej Plenković stressing the importance of cooperation and friendly relations.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to lend Croatia 40,950 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 in response to the neighbouring country's request for 40,000 doses.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor congratulated Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on his re-election. The presidents also discussed the Covid-19 pandemic, efforts by both Slovenia and Bulgaria to raise vaccination rates, and potential further steps in the search for a compromise solution on Bulgaria's blockade of North Macedonia's EU accession talks.
        VIENNA, Austria - Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Belarus should remain high on the agenda of the EU and the international community as he condemned the Belarus regime and expressed support for democratisation of the country at a conference in Vienna.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Local Court dismissed a case against author and comedian Andrej Rozman Roza over his involvement in a protest reading of the Constitution in front of Parliament House in June 2020. The court said that this was minor offence that did not endanger anyone.
        LJUBLJANA - Igor Samobor, the director of Ljubljana's SNG Drama theatre, resigned due to what he described as government foot-dragging over the badly needed renovation of the building of Slovenia's largest theatre. Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti denied culpability saying the government wanted the project to be transparent.
        LJUBLJANA - The retrial in the infamous sawn-off hand insurance fraud case saw Julija Adlešič - the woman whose hand was sawn off - her partner Sebastien Abramov, and his parents all pleading guilty and receiving prison sentences. Adlešič and Abramov will spend 19 and 29 months in prison, respectively. Both have already served most of their sentences in custody.
TUESDAY, 23 November
        MURSKA SOBOTA - The government toured the north-easternmost region of Pomurje, discussing various projects, including in agriculture, the leading industry in the area, as well as efforts to convince young people to stay in the region. Apart from visiting companies in the region, PM Janez Janša met representatives of the Hungarian minority in Pomurje and visited the Murska Sobota diocese of the Evangelical Church in Slovenia where he met Bishop Leon Novak.
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Janez Poklukar and the head of the Medical Chamber Bojana Beović warned about the possibility of the fifth wave of Covid infections, with Poklukar saying he thought that another wave could emerge in February next year as a result of an insufficient vaccination rate. Beović said that the Covid pass mandate could be amended to make booster doses mandatory.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs hosted a meeting of the ATLAS Commanders Forum, attended by representatives of the special police units from the EU member states. Hojs said that terrorism was placed high on the EU priority list and that the role of ATLAS network was important as well.
        STRASBOURG, France - Foreign Minister Anže Logar raised concern about the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina as he addressed the European Parliament on Tuesday evening. Logar, who took part in the debate on behalf of the Council of the EU, called on the country's political leaders to give up provocative and divisive rhetoric and actions
        LONDON, UK - Slovenian artist Jasmina Cibic won the 2021 Jarman Award handed out by Film London, worth EUR 10,000. The jury highlighted her projects NADA and The Gift, which was recently screened at the London Film Festival.

WEDNESDAY, 24 November
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - The College of the European Public Prosecutor's Office appointed Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir as Slovenia's European delegated prosecutors for five-year terms, same as all the other delegated prosecutors. Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry put forward amendments to the act on the public prosecution that would give the government greater say in the appointment of Slovenian prosecutors, which the opposition labelled as as yet another attempt by the government at undermining the rule of law and subordinating all social subsystems.
        LJUBLJANA - Hosting his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister Janez Janša pledged Slovenia's support for Poland in light of the migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border. He said the EU should fund all measures to protect the bloc's external borders, arguing that physical barriers at the borders have proved to be effective in preventing illegal migration and violence.
        STRASBOURG, France - The European Parliament conducted a debate on fundamental rights and the rule of law in Slovenia. MEPs acknowledged there have been positive steps made recently, but they also criticised the government for delays, in particular in the appointment of European delegated prosecutors.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliament passed an opposition amendment to the act on emergency measures in healthcare, introducing financial compensation for the self-employed, partners in companies and farmers in the event of a quarantine order due to Covid-19 or subsequent childcare obligations.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša reiterated his call for vaccination against Covid-19 as he indicated in an interview with the Catholic Radio Ognjišče that a tightening of restrictions was not in the cards at present.
        LJUBLJANA - Police dealt with 8,144 instances of illegal crossing of the border in the first ten months of 2021, nearly 39% fewer than in the same period last year. The most frequently processed illegal migrants were from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who accounted for almost half of the total number.
THURSDAY, 25 November
        LJUBLJANA - The daily number of new coronavirus cases had been dropping in Slovenia in the past week with the latest figures available showing 2,668 new daily coronavirus infections, about a thousand fewer than a week ago. However, the situation in hospitals remains critical with the number of ICU cases hitting a record 286.
        LJUBLJANA/PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Prime Minister Janez Janša called for stronger cooperation in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic as he addressed the Asian-European Meeting (ASEM) by videolink. He said this was crucial for an effective response to crises.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU ministers in charge of competitiveness clinched a political agreement on two key digital acts - on digital markets and services at a session chaired by Slovenian Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and Digital Transformation Minister Mark Boris Andrijanič. Počivalšek lauded the agreement an important milestone on the path to create a more open and competitive digital market.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed the government's proposal to raise the cap on state budget expenditure for this year by EUR 670 million to nearly EUR 15 billion. The government said the rise was to allow the financing of Covid-19 response measures to continue undisrupted, but the centre-left opposition argued the government had lost a grip on public finances.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly unanimously passed an act prohibiting the sale of certain plastic products, including disposable products, with the aim of reducing the quantity of discarded packaging and, consequently, improving public health.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly backed a proposal for a ban on hydraulic fracturing in Slovenia, tabled by three centre-left opposition parties, on first reading in what is the fifth attempt to thwart British company Ascent Resources's fracking plans in the north-eastern Prekmurje region.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly failed to muster the majority needed to pass a declaration to support the European Parliament's 2009 resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism in what was the fifth attempt by the ruling Democratic Party (SDS) to endorse the resolution condemning all totalitarian regimes.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted amendments to the medical services act that facilitate licensing of doctors, transfer the jurisdiction of professional exams to the Medical Chamber and simplify hiring of foreign doctors with regard to Slovenian language skills.
        LJUBLJANA - Mercator, Slovenia's largest retailer, recovered from last year's deep loss as it posted a net profit of EUR 12.6 million for the first nine months of the year. Sales revenue was up by almost a percent to EUR 1.63 billion, shows the group's earnings report.


27 Nov 2021, 10:28 AM

STA, 27 November 2021 - Slovenia's national advisory committee on immunization has decided to recommend a booster shot of a vaccine against Covid-19 to all adults, that is everyone aged 18 or over.

The body has decided to expand the booster shot recommendation to all adults at its latest session after initially recommending boosters in particular to over 50-year-olds, particularly vulnerable people with chronic conditions regardless of their age, care home residents, family members of immunocompromised persons or vulnerable chronic patients and those exposed to the virus at their work.

Booster shots had been earlier also recommended to those who had been fully vaccinated with viral vector vaccines at least two months after they have been fully jabbed.

According to the National Institute of Public Health, more than 281,700 people in Slovenia have already received booster shots.

25 Nov 2021, 16:31 PM

STA, 25 November 2021 - Journalists of the news programme of the television arm of RTV Slovenija protested on Thursday against the relevant draft programme and production plan for 2022, calling on the programming council of the public broadcaster to reject it and adjust it so that it "appropriately implements the mission of RTV".

TV Slovenija journalist Igor E. Bergant told the protest press conference that the draft plan had not been significantly changed compared to its initial format despite remarks from the news programme journalists.

The key remarks and warnings remain, with certain changes "in the expert opinion of the news programme journalists being detrimental to the mission of the public institute", as cancelling and relocating shows "is reminiscent of some other times."

According to Bergant, the problem is that the plan is not well worked out in certain segments, and it is completely unclear how it could be realistically implemented at all even if the greatest possible effort was invested.

He believes that the changes do not solve the issue of ratings, as claimed by the management of RTV Slovenija as the initiators of the changes.

"Informing is not the only one, but is certainly one of the key missions of European radio-television services, where ratings are not and must not be the only or the main criterion," Bergant said.

He noted that the news programme journalists at TV Slovenija were not afraid of changes as such, as they wanted to work "even more, even better and in better conditions," while adding that the proposed changes did not enable this.

"The initiators even explicitly speak about an experiment," Bergant said, adding that now was not the time for experiments as RTV Slovenija is facing financial difficulties, but to "focus on what is already known".

The journalists also noted that the issue was not about individuals or politics or about problems with communication, but about an "ill-advised, and partially unprofessional" and "uncoordinated plan".

Manica Janežič Ambrožič, who stepped down as the TV news programme editor-in-chief in mid-October over the plan, said that the shrinking of the programme and moving some of the shows to channel 2 undermined the role and message of RTV Slovenija.

Janežič Ambrožič, who continues to serve as the acting editor-in-chief, noted that "134 colleagues ... think that the planned thorough changes are a step in the wrong direction."

She stressed that the journalists did not stand united because they feared change, but because the plan was an "extremely risky business", adding that changes needed to be "professionally reasoned, discussed and coordinated production-wise."

Also showing up at the protest press conference were many journalists from other media outlets, while support has also been expressed by the expert public.

According to the TV Slovenija news programme journalists, the appeal to the RTV Slovenija management to rethink the draft plan for next year has been signed by 126 out of a total of 143 journalists.

TV Slovenija acting director Valentin Areh rejected the claims by journalists about the news content being shrunk under the plan, adding that the idea was to put the interest of viewers first.

"The news programme of TV Slovenija is in a serious crisis, and ratings for a majority of shows are dropping ... which is why we decided for programme changes modelled after the most successful public broadcasters such as the BBC, ZDF and ORF," he said.

Areh, who is puzzled by the journalists "requesting that nothing must change despite the drastic drop in ratings", added that the management was obliged to take measures and take the wishes and interests of viewers into account.

The Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts meanwhile expressed support for TV Slovenija journalists, saying that the management should lend an ear to the remarks of employees, who should have the main say in such matters.

"Given the currently very chaotic management of the institute, which is becoming increasingly susceptible to informal pressure from external actors and their private interests, the position of the employees is where reasonable reflection should be anchored," adds the statement signed by almost 80 members of the centre.

The programming council of RTV Slovenija is expected to start discussing the plan next Monday.

25 Nov 2021, 11:41 AM

STA, 25 November 2021 - Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti has acknowledged that the renovation of the SNG Drama theatre in Ljubljana will be delayed, which was the reason for the resignation of theatre's director Igor Samobor. Simoniti indicated this was because the ministry wanted to clear up certain issues to make sure the project is transparent.

Speaking for the Odmevi late-night show on RTV Slovenija on Wednesday, Simoniti dismissed Samobor's claims the ministry did not communicate with the theatre. He said he had met Samobor four times, but he did reject a one-on-one meeting given how complex and expensive the project is.

Related: Floods Close SNG Drama Ljubljana and Moderna Galerija Until Further Notice (Video)

The renovation was initially estimated at EUR 60 million, whereupon the price tag dropped to EUR 45 million. "These are exceptionally high figures that demand precise answers to the financiers - the state, which the minister is responsible for."

The draft of the new culture programme says, according to RTV Slovenija, that the start of the renovation will be pushed to 2023 and the new estimated price is EUR 21 million.

Simoniti did not specify why the ministry was allocating less money for the project. He said it simply provisionally set aside EUR 21 million, the figure set down in the last national culture programme.

An audit of the project that he demanded concluded that it is impossible to determine a precise price, the project designers put the price tag at EUR 43 million. "I'm afraid if they are setting such prices, the figures would be significantly higher and there would be an inordinate number of annexes to the agreement."

The ministry wants a "transparent and clear picture of what this is about," according to Simoniti.

There are also several outstanding issues concerning the project, according to him, for example the status of certain plots of land and the consent of local residents. Simoniti said there were also questions about plans to build deep underground, which posed a potential threat to the Drama building and the nearby German House.

The comments come after Samobor tendered his resignation on Monday due to what he described as government foot-dragging over the badly needed renovation of the building of Slovenia's largest theatre.

Samobor said one of the reasons for his decision was the probability that there is certain personal animosity between him and the minister, but Simoniti dismissed that as a "not too precious propaganda move" and noted this was not Samobor's personal project but the responsibility of the state.

24 Nov 2021, 20:59 PM

STA, 24 November 2021 - The College of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) appointed on Wednesday Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir as Slovenia's European delegated prosecutors for five-year terms, same as all the other delegated prosecutors, in a move welcomed by the prosecutors and the EU Commission.

"We are extremely pleased to have been appointed European delegated prosecutors for a full five-year term and therefore given an opportunity to take part in this project," Frank Eler and Oštir told the STA.

"We thank the European Public Prosecutor's Office for the trust it has shown us. Regardless of all complications in the appointment procedure we would, above all, like to focus on further work in the prosecution of crime against the EU budget," they added.

Slovenia's Supreme State Prosecutor's Office welcomed the EPPO's decision as well, reiterating its stance that the pair were good candidates who had met all the conditions to be appointed European delegated prosecutor.

The decision has ended "delays in the fulfilment of Slovenia's agreed obligations," the Supreme State Prosecutor's Office said, noting that with Frank Eler and Oštir's appointments, Slovenia would finally fill in the gap that had beset the EPPO and "join the common efforts to protect the EU's financial interests in the country".

European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova congratulated Frank Eler and Oštir on their appointments, posting on Twitter: "Good news, now we have Delegated Prosecutors from every participating country."

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders shared the sentiment, saying: "After several exchanges I had with the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and the Minister of Justice Marjan Dikaučič, I am happy that we now have delegated prosecutors in all member states participating in the EPPO."

The EPPO received the Slovenian government's proposal to appoint the two candidates on Friday after the government decided last Thursday to refer the State Prosecution Council's pick of Frank Eler and Oštir.

According to the government, the decision is temporary, in place only until the appointment procedure in Slovenia is completed, a stance that has been disputed by experts.

The government argued that it had taken note of the procedure so far and established that it had not been carried out in line with the state prosecution act due to an insufficient number of applications.

The decision to nominate the selected candidates on a temporary basis has been thus made to avert substantial damage to Slovenia that could be caused by the delay in the appointment, the government said.

However, following the assessment of Frank Eler and Oštir, the EPPO decided this morning to appoint them as full-fledged delegated prosecutors, each for a period of five years, same as delegated prosecutors from all the other EU countries participating in the EPPO.

This comes after the office highlighted on Monday that national authorities only proposed the candidates, but it was up to the EPPO's College to decide on their appointment. "This is key to our independence," the EPPO said.

The State Prosecution Council said that the appointments of Frank Eler and Oštir for a full five-year term "mean the confirmation of the legality of the council's proposal".

However, Janša said today that "nothing is happening that has not been agreed on". "If there is anything left that is unclear, it will be cleared up in the next months," he said at a press conference he held with the Polish prime minister today.

Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič told Radio Slovenija that Slovenia had been all along striving to fully join the EPPO's efforts as soon as possible by appointing European delegated prosecutors. "Today's decision settled that," the minister said.

The office was launched in June to investigate and prosecute EU budget fraud and other crimes against the bloc's financial interests. A total of 22 member states take part in the EPPO, including Slovenia, which was the last country to propose its delegated prosecutors.

24 Nov 2021, 18:44 PM

STA, 24 November - Organisations representing employers and trade unions on the Economic and Social Council, the main industrial relations forum, have issued a joint call on Wednesday urging people to respect Covid-19 restrictions and get vaccinated.

Slovenia is in extremely difficult situation because of Covid-19, said the organisations, including the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), the Chamber of Commerce (TZS), the Employers' Association and the ZSSS, Pergam, KS 90, KSJS and several other trade unions.

"We must realise that only responsible action by each individual and by all of us together can reduce the spread of infections and enable our life to return to normal," they wrote.

Higher vaccination rates can contribute the most to containing the spread of Covid-19, or at least faster recovery from the disease, and thus to relieving pressure on healthcare, which is on the edge of its capacities.

The employer associations and trade union thus urged people to be consistent in showing and checking the required documents on meeting the recovered, vaccinated, tested rule.

Companies should keep records on self-testing of employees and all citizens should be consistent in using protective masks, keeping a distance, hand sanitising and ventilating offices, they said, adding this was the only way to keep businesses running.

They warned though that government measures for preventing the spreading of Covid-19 must be clear, logical, sensible, proportionate and undiscriminating, and presented to the people on time and in a clear and understandable way.

23 Nov 2021, 13:45 PM

STA, 23 November 2021 - Slovenia logged 3,394 new coronavirus cases for Monday as infections kept receding week-on-week for the fourth consecutive day. However, Covid-19 has claimed 23 more lives and ICU cases keep climbing, data released by the government show.

A total of 1,154 patients were hospitalised with Covid-19 this morning, eight fewer then yesterday. However, the number of those treated in intensive care increased by ten to 285.

The latter figure is just below the current Covid ICU capacity of 288 beds but the capacity is expected to be expanded.

With the daily count of newly confirmed infections dropping by 10% from the same day a week ago, the rolling 7-day average dropped further to 3,090, down by over 50 from the day before.

The cumulative 14-day incidence was still slightly up, by two to 2,125, and the estimated number of active cases rose by about 50 to almost 44,800, according to the National Institute of Public Health.

The PCR test positivity rate remains high at 46%.

Vaccination is progressing slowly, with 1,139,108 people or 54% of the population fully inoculated. This means 64% of adults or 75% of the over 50-year-olds.

According to the government, 242,219 people have received a booster shot.

Get all the latest data on covid and Slovenia

23 Nov 2021, 08:46 AM

STA, 22 November 2021 - Igor Samobor, the director of Ljubljana's SNG Drama theatre, has resigned due to what he described as government foot-dragging over the badly needed renovation of the building of Slovenia's largest theatre.

In a resignation statement circulated Monday, Samobor says preparations for a renovation and extension of the theatre's building in the centre of Ljubljana had been proceeding since 2012, but then ground to a halt when Vasko Simoniti became the culture minister last year.

An architectural design has been selected, an adjacent building purchased and everything was ready for the acquisition of a building permit, but then Simoniti deferred financing despite the theatre having fulfilled all its obligations, according to Samobor.

Samobor accuses Simoniti of a series of "arbitrary decisions" and says it is impossible to act in such an environment. He decided to resign because "there is a chance that the negative attitude by the minister is of a personal, not general nature".

The SNG Drama theatre is in bad shape and was severely flooded during record rains that hit the Slovenian capital in late September, highlighting the need for renovation.

Samobor, a prominent actor, was named director in April 2013.

22 Nov 2021, 16:28 PM

STA, 22 November 2021 - Slovenia's Education and Sport Inspectorate carried out 121 inspections in November to find 11 cases of irregularities in compliance with measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Chief Schools Inspector Simon Slokan said on Monday. One school was temporarily shut down for non-compliance.

Slokan reiterated that "the introduction of self-testing in schools is a specific situation that we have not seen before". Since the self-testing measure came into force last week, the inspectorate carried out 43 inspections and found major non-compliance in five cases.

"These five schools did not arrange self-testing for children, they failed to obtain parental consent, and did not properly arrange distance learning for children without consent," Slokan explained.

The inspectorate issued verbal warnings to those schools and urged them to take immediate action. They were later subjected to re-inspections, and it was mostly found that they have started addressing their issues.

Only one school failed to follow the inspectorate's warnings, and the inspectorate ordered by decree that the whole school switches to distance learning until 3 December or until irregularities are resolved.

The Education Ministry confirmed to the STA that the school in question was a private school in central Slovenia, but added that more information could not be disclosed.

Meanwhile, the inspectorate found that 38 out of 43 schools made excellent preparations for the implementation of the measures. Slokan also reiterated that head teachers and school staff are not the ones who set the rules, but have a responsibility to respect and implement them.

Threats, protests and unnecessary pressure from parents are only bringing unrest - with the children feeling the brunt of it, said Slokan, reiterating his call for parents to be held accountable. He believes that the common goal of everybody is quality education.

"The inspectorate will continue to ensure that everyone entering a kindergarten or school complies with all required measures, because this is the only way to ensure a safe and stimulating space for all and that lessons can continue to take place in schools," concluded Slokan.

20 Nov 2021, 14:29 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 19 November 2021.

Mladina: Signs of optimism upon Janša's looming defeat

STA, 19 November 2021 - Mladina says in its latest editorial that with the announcement of the election date, a countdown has started in Slovenia and in the EU as well, an "increasingly optimistic countdown to the end of a painful period of authoritarian rule".

Under the headline 155, Mladina says that the majority of politically active people are counting down the 155 days left until the election, and compares Slovenia's situation to the final period of President Trump's rule in the US.

Turning to Prime Minister Janez Janša, the commentary suggests that his recent behaviour reflects "a man whose plans have all fallen through and who has experienced rejection everywhere".

"Janša is defeated, and he knows it. We have never seen anything like this in the history of the rotating EU presidency: other EU leaders and representatives making it so clear to the PM of the country holding the presidency that they despise him."

"But his defeat at home is even greater. He has failed to break the media and the judiciary, he has failed to establish a cult of personality, he has failed to overturn the mood of a society so clearly opposed to the Slovenia he would like to create."

"Janša is now counting only on the government's alleged economic success, that is the only thing he talks about in an attempt to cover up the completely misguided fight against the epidemic, which is taking on frightening proportions."

Mladina adds that despite all the government's interference in various state institutions, certain forms of optimism, strength and rebellion are spreading through Slovenia's society, a certain "mockery at the autocratic ruler and his followers".

"As we are in the midst of an epidemic, it is hard to laugh - but the sentiment is there. Laughter is a sign of freedom, and the beginning of laughter signals the end of fear," concludes the commentary.

Demokracija: Fight against heirs of Communism

STA, 18 November 2021 - Demokracija magazine argues in Thursday's commentary that it is time to fight against the heirs of Communist ideology, which it says stages "media pogroms and show trials" whenever a government is not led by "red monsters disguised as social or liberal democrats".

These people perceive themselves as democratic advocates of liberty, and yet they designate everyone who disagrees with them as authoritarian enemies of democracy. "In their mental processes, shaped through decades, the (bourgeois) right is bent on racism and fascism, whereas the middle class, the pillar of the free market system and the engine of development, remains their biggest enemy."

According to the commentator, the time has come to determine whose country Slovenia is. "Do the 'proud heirs of the League of Communists' really have the exclusive right to bypass all the rules ... and terrorise others in the streets? Who will stop these guerrilla actions by leftists, concealed behind nice-sounding names of NGOs?"

History shows that red revolutions have always been deadly for good, God fearing people, that they have only brought devastation and sadness, Demokracija says.

"Nowadays a coordinated and systemic attack is carried out differently than it was a hundred years ago, but the consequences are the same. Our future demands that we fight, and that we remember the legendary times of this generations for actually liberating [the country], not only making it independent."

All our posts in this series are here

20 Nov 2021, 08:32 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, 12 November
        NOVO MESTO - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek warned that a potential new lockdown would cause the state to go bankrupt as the government paid a visit to south-east Slovenia. He said the Covid crisis was not over yet, so everyone should join forces to find solutions as "there will be no more state aid".
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided that primary and secondary school students will start self-testing on school premises on 17 November, as it delayed the start of this by two days. Testing will be carried out three times a week.
        KOPER - The supervisory board of the state-owned port operator Luka Koper appointed only one new member of the management board for a five-year term, unanimously confirming Robert Rožac, who currently serves as state secretary at the Environment Ministry, while failing to appoint one additional member of the board and its chairman.
        MARIBOR - The supervisory board of electricity distributor Elektro Maribor dismissed chairman Boris Sovič, in what is the third major staffing decision in state-owned energy firms in two weeks. Sovič, an ex-Social Democrat (SD) mayor of Maribor who had served as the company's chairman since 2012, rejected all the arguments for his dismissal.
        LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec rejected claims he was involved in the ousting of several directors of state-owned energy firms. He said staffing was in the exclusive domain of supervisory boards and Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), while corporate governance rules precluded direct political influence on staffing.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The EU home affairs ministers hosted by Slovenia's Aleš Hojs at a virtual conference expressed in a joint statement their political support for finding appropriate tools for uncovering and investigating sexual abuse of children.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission decided to open infringement proceedings against Slovenia to ensure correct transposition of EU rules on combating terrorism. The country has now two months to respond to the formal notice from Brussels, or else faces receiving a reasoned opinion.
        LJUBLJANA - The chair of the parliamentary commission investigating suspicion of political interference in police, Rudi Medved from the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), said the commission would send an intermediary report to the National Assembly confirming the suspicion of political pressure on police.
        PARIS, France - President Borut Pahor attended a high-level meeting marking the 75th anniversary of UNESCO and held talks with the organisation's director general Audrey Azoulay. He said in his address that UNESCO had a pioneering role in searching for solutions to the world's most pressing problems and challenges.
        MUNICH, Germany - Slovenian biologist and environmental activist Andreja Slameršek received this year's Wolfgang Staab Prize for Nature Conservation, which is given out by the German Schweisfurth Foundation. She was honoured for helping to stop several planned power stations that would destroy unique ecosystems along the rivers Mura and Sava.
        LJUBLJANA - A network of civil society and non-governmental organisations that is forming the Voice of the People initiative started its election campaign at the anti-government protest, presenting ten out of its hundred demands with which it plans to confront political parties ahead of the general election.
SATURDAY, 13 November
        PARIS, France - President Borut Pahor bestowed the Golden Order of Merit, one of the highest Slovenian state decorations, on Czech-French writer Milan Kundera. Kundera was honoured for having raised his voice for Slovenia's independence and for his outstanding contribution to understanding turbulent times in Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - With hospitals under tremendous pressure from increasing numbers of Covid patients, the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and Red Cross Slovenia announced they would help out with volunteer work and equipment.

SUNDAY, 14 November
        LJUBLJANA - The Environment Ministry said that significant progress had been made at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, while further efforts would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Climatologist Lučka Kajfež Bogataj meanwhile said the deal reached at the summit was just another disappointment in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, while noting the progress in providing financial assistance to the most vulnerable countries and halting deforestation.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - President Borut Pahor met Jean-Claude Juncker, former president of the European Commission and long-serving prime minister of Luxembourg, and current Prime Minister Xavier Bettel as he paid a visit to Luxembourg.
        LJUBLJANA - On Slovenian Sign Language Day, calls were made for a more inclusive society and accessibility of all areas of life for the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as for systemic development of the sign language. The human rights ombudsman called on the authorities to draft regulations to put the rights of such persons in practice.
        KRANJ - Škofja Loka Passion Play, staged by the Prešeren Theatre Kranj and directed by Jernej Lorenci, received the Šeligo Prize for the best production at the 51st Week of Slovenian Drama, while also receiving the audience's choice award and the awards for actors.
        LECH, Austria - Andreja Slokar won the Alpine Ski World Cup parallel giant slalom event to take the overall lead in the competition. This is the first career win for Slokar and also the first win ever for Slovenia in parallel giant slalom.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia beat Cyprus 2:1 to wrap up the qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup in the fourth spot in Group H. Slovenia finished the qualifiers at 14 points from ten matches, the same as the third-placed Slovakia.
MONDAY, 15 November
        LJUBLJANA - Asked in parliament about corruption and allegations that mafia is running the country, PM Janez Janša told the MPs that Slovenia's main problems today stemmed from "UDBA-mafia or, as is the newly-established term, parallel mechanisms managing large parts of systems and sub-systems without elections and without legitimacy."
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša assured MPs that the government was not supporting tax avoidance as he commented on controversial statements made by a minister of one of his previous governments in a conversation with a powerful business executive 14 years ago. He said taxes were not at the heart of the matter, and noted that he did not support calls for tax avoidance.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - As part of his visit to Luxembourg, President Borut Pahor met President of the Chamber of Deputies Fernand Etgen and Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. Confirming the excellent relations between the two countries, the officials shared similar views on the EU's core values, including the rule of law and media freedom.
        LJUBLJANA - The centre-left opposition filed for an emergency session of the parliamentary Public Finance Oversight Commission over what they described as unprecedented political staffing in the energy industry. Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec responded by saying that corporate management rules in Slovenia prevented politics from such interference.
        GENEVA, Switzerland - Attending a virtual WHO summit on evidence-based policy making in health, Health Minister Janez Poklukar presented Slovenia's experience in implementing "effective and innovative evidence-based" measures in different phases of the Covid-19 epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption said it would launch an inquiry after receiving a report that Neffat Law Firm was contracted to draft amendments to the construction act. The report also said that the firm represented Branko Simonovič, a DeSUS MP who would be able to use these amendments to legalise a house he has illegally built on the coast. Simonovič denied the allegations.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU agriculture ministers adopted decisions on a new EU strategy for forests until 2030, stressing the importance of forests in combating climate change and biodiversity loss. Slovenia's Jože Podgoršek described the decisions as a great achievement of the Slovenian EU presidency.
        LJUBLJANA - The steel group SIJ said it had increased its sales revenue by 34.2% to EUR 714.6 million in the first nine months of the year, while EBITDA reached EUR 73.5 million. Almost EUR 41.5 million was channelled into investment in the January-September period.
        LJUBLJANA - The latest Vox Populi survey gave the ruling Democrats (SDS) 17% of respondent support, followed by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) at 13.9% and the Left at 8.1%. The share of undecided voters increased to almost a third.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana city council endorsed a revised budget for this year, under which the municipality will end 2021 with a EUR 5.3 million deficit instead of a EUR 1.2 million surplus. Revenue was set at EUR 390 million and expenditure at EUR 395 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The police said that a 17-year search for a 61-year-old fugitive sentenced for fraud was over as the woman was recently found and arrested in Ghana in cooperation with foreign security authorities. The Slovenian was extradited from the African country to Slovenia on 13 November and taken to the Ig prison.

TUESDAY, 16 November
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Boštjan Poklukar announced that hospitals had secured the full planned intensive care capacity for Covid-19 patients, meaning 288 beds, adding that state of extreme emergency would be declared in healthcare if the number of ICU patients exceeded this figure.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defence Minister Matej Tonin said Slovenia "must be pleased" with the EU's Strategic Compass, a shared vision for EU security and defence, after EU defence ministers debated the draft document. The first responses to the document, prepared by the presiding trio involving Slovenia, are good and confirm that the direction is right, but some details are yet to be hashed out, he said.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - A delegation of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) that visited Slovenia on a fact-finding mission in mid-October expresses deep concern over the climate of hostility and deep polarisation in Slovenia in a draft report.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs called for stronger cooperation between the police forces of EU member states and Western Balkan countries as he addressed a meeting of the board of the EU border agency Frontex. "The Western Balkans is undoubtedly a priority partner, but ... cooperation must be mutual and each partner must contribute their fair share."
        LJUBLJANA - A group of Slovenian NGOs called on the government in its capacity as the EU presiding country to launch in-depth discussion on the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border. It pointed to violations of human rights along the EU's eastern border and expressed deep concern over migrants being prevented from accessing asylum and international protection.
        LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said Slovenia was counting on nuclear in its energy transition since renewable sources alone would not suffice to cover the production shortfall once coal was phased out given that the country had missed many opportunities already.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - EU ministers in charge of tourism agreed at a virtual informal meeting that the green and digital transition must form the core of the tourism sector's post-pandemic recovery if the sector is to be put on a sustainable footing. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek noted the ministers had the same general positions on recovery.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The Slovenian EU presidency said it had achieved progress in some of the key dossiers in negotiations with the European Parliament on legislation in areas such as health and digitalisation. It hopes for further progress by the end of the year, including on the minimum wage.
        LJUBLJANA - Petra Grah Lazar, the acting director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), has been named full-fledged director on a temporary basis. The appointment is based on recent changes to the act on the organisation of police, which critics say would emaciate the police unit specialised in white-collar crime.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's top officials received booster shots of coronavirus vaccines nearly nine months after they received their first shots in the early stages of the vaccination campaign. A total of 176,740 people in Slovenia have so far received booster shots, just over 8% of the entire population and roughly a third of those aged 70 or more.
        NOVA GORICA - Danijel Bešič Loredan, the head of the Nova Gorica general hospital's orthopaedic ward, saw his contract terminated due to his opposition to moving patients from his ward to expand the hospital's capacities for Covid-19 patients.
        LJUBLJANA - The government relieved Tomi Rumpf of his duties as the director of the Commodity Reserves Agency, as Rumpf recently tendered his resignation, and appointed Andrej Kužner as the acting director. Rumpf had tendered his resignation on 11 November.
        MIRNA - Atlantic Grupa, a Croatian multinational that owns Slovenian food producer Droga Kolinska, sold its production facility in the Slovenian town of Mirna to Austrian baby food company Gittis Naturprodukte as it continues divesting its non-core businesses.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian police force got its first hybrid patrol vehicles which officials said would reduce noise pollution in settled areas and contribute to cleaner environment. A total of 56 new vehicles were formally handed over to the police at a ceremony at the Tacen Police Academy compound.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana city council extended by five years the contract for the Bežigrad Sport Park project, which includes renovation of the dilapidated landmark stadium designed by Jože Plečnik. The contractors have welcomed the decision, while a civil initiative opposing the project said private interest had outweighed public interest.

WEDNESDAY, 17 November
        ROME, Italy - Defence Minister Matej Tonin signed an agreement on the purchase of a Spartan C-27J transport aircraft with his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini. The Defence Ministry said the value of the agreement was roughly EUR 72 million, where the basic price of the aircraft was EUR 48 million and the additional modules were valued at EUR 11 million. The aircraft is expected to arrive in Slovenia in about a year and a half.
        LJUBLJANA - Mandatory self-testing of students in primary and secondary schools got off to a largely problem-free start. Reports from schools suggested the vast majority of parents consented to testing and only a small percentage of parents decided to switch to remote schooling in protest.
        LJUBLJANA - Police Commissioner Anton Olaj dismissed allegations of political staffing in the force after a trade union complained that recently adopted legislation had resulted in a "purge" in the top echelons of the police force. Olaj confirmed though that the terms of more than a hundred staff in total had ended in line with the new law.
        LJUBLJANA - Maja Pak, the long-serving director of the Slovenian Tourist Board, stepped down citing differences in views with Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek over the management of the organisation. Počivalšek thanked Pak for her effort but did not specify what the divergence of opinions was.
        LJUBLJANA - The Environment Ministry denied media reports that it had commissioned a law firm to draft amendments to the construction act and that they were tailored to allow an MP from the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) to legalise his house on the coast. The Chamber of Architecture and Spatial Planning meanwhile denied the ministry's claim it had initiated the changes.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Speakers at the European Tourism Forum agreed that while there were reasons for the European tourism sector to be optimistic after a good summer season, there was still a long way until full recovery, noting that the sector must become more resilient, sustainable and digitalised.
        LJUBLJANA - Triglav Group, Slovenia's largest insurer, said its net profit in the first three quarters of the year increased by 48% on the same period a year ago to EUR 75.2 million as consolidated gross written premium rose by 10% to EUR 1.06 billion. The group expects to trump the initially planned annual profit target, with the figure to amount to EUR 115-125 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The latest semi-annual report by the Surveying and Mapping Authority (GURS) shows the prices of apartments and houses rising rapidly since the real estate market started recovering in March. In the first half of the year, they rose by around 8% year-on-year, the highest six-month growth since the 2008 real estate crisis.
        LJUBLJANA/MURSKA SOBOTA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption said it was looking into the purchase of two biogas plants in eastern Slovenia in the aftermath of media reports suggesting the board chairman of the bad bank may have been in a conflict of interest. The Bank Assets Management Company then denied the allegations, saying that the relevant decision was taken before the chairman's time at the bad bank.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's largest trade union association, ZSSS, announced it had filed a complaint against the state with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) alleging violation of a relevant convention over absence of regulation that would allow notification of most occupational diseases.
        LJUBLJANA - On International Students' Day, the Slovenian Student Organisation pointed to what it sees as an unenviable position of the current generation of students due to the Covid-19 epidemic and consequences of the measures to stem it. Statistics Office data show that 48.6% of Slovenians aged 19 to 24 study, which makes Slovenia an EU leader.
        KOPER - After 26 years of service, Slovenia's oldest police boat made its final sail off the Koper coast before it is consigned to a museum. Built in Italy in 1994, the P-111 boat will be moved to the Park of Military History in Pivka.

THURSDAY, 18 November
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed investment-oriented budget documents for the next two years under which the deficit is to be reduced from EUR 4 billion this year to EUR 2.47 billion or 4.6% of GDP in 2022 and EUR 1.52 billion or 2.6% of GDP in 2023. Centre-left opposition MPs and the Fiscal Council have expressed doubt this is realistic.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to put forward Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir for Slovenia's two European delegated prosecutors. However, according to the government's decree, their appointment is temporary, in force until the national appointment procedure is concluded. Boštjan Valenčič, the head of the Association of State Prosecutors, meanwhile told TV Slovenija that the procedure had been wrapped up, adding that "the state prosecution act does not recognise the concept of the interim".
        LJUBLJANA - The breakdown of the talks on the EU-Switzerland cooperation agreement and other possible options for strengthening cooperation topped the agenda in a meeting between FM Anže Logar and his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis. Cassis said the cooperation agreement was too big a step forward for Switzerland, which wanted to focus on smaller steps for the time being. Logar said the Slovenian presidency would do everything in its power to "restore trust".
        LJUBLJANA - The latest official data showed that more than 3,660 people tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, slightly up on a weekly basis, as nearly 40% of the PCR tests came back positive. The 7-day average of new cases rose from the day before by 44 to 3,269, while the 14-day cumulative incidence per 100,000 people fell by 40 to 2,153. The number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients increased slightly to 1,104, including 253 in intensive care units. 24 people died of Covid-19, the largest number since late January.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Parliament will discuss at its plenary session next Wednesday the rule of law in Slovenia, and the delay in the appointment of European delegated prosecutors. A resolution is planned that the Parliament will vote on in December, according to the agenda of the session. The situation in Slovenia will also be discussed by the Parliament's LIBE committee based on a fact-finding mission report. The latter session was supposed to take place on 18 November but was then pushed back to 29 November.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed the bill changing the penal code to introduce prosecution of suspects who have threatened the country's senior officials or their relatives ex officio, without the injured party initiating proceedings.
        LJUBLJANA - The Italian Army plans to help Slovenia with up to 30 doctors and nurses as the country battles an increasing number of Covid-19 patients. The Italian Army healthcare workers will be joining the medical teams of the Slovenian Armed Forces, who started helping hospitals at the beginning of the week, the Defence Ministry said.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor attended a session of the Judicial Council, focussing on the passing of the 2022 budget bill, which cuts funding to some independent state institutions. Pahor said the way in which budget funding had been reduced could be seen as efforts to weaken these institutions. He said he would strive to raise the issue with those in charge and call for a solution, the president's office said.
        NOVO MESTO - The drug maker Krka reported a group net profit of EUR 240.1 million for the first nine months of 2021, a year-on-year increase of 14% and the highest nine-month profit in the company's history, on the back of revenue that increased by 1% to EUR 1.18 billion.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Press Agency (STA) confirmed receiving EUR 676,000 from the Government Communication Office (UKOM) for public services performed between January and April, as part of a broader deal on the restoration of public funding for this year. The amount had been disputed by UKOM for months and the STA sought recourse in court.
        LJUBLJANA - After a brutal attack on judge Daniela Ružič in front of her home near Maribor in June 2019, her partner at the time is now facing charges of attempted murder, according to media reports. Ružič and the man were in the process of splitting up at the time. It had been originally speculated that the judge might have been attacked in relation to her work.

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