What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.
FRIDAY, 4 June
BRUSSELS, Belgium - President Borut Pahor reiterated his call for joint efforts by all stakeholders in Slovenia to make EU presidency a success after holding talks with top EU officials. He said Slovenia could preserve and enhance its image as a reliable country capable of leading demanding dossiers, despite the current political uncertainty in the country.
BRDO PRI KRANJU - Slovenia and Italy will soon start policing the shared border with joint police patrols, the interior ministers, Aleš Hojs and Luciana Lamorgese, said after a meeting. Hojs said the patrols would be relaunched as soon as possible equipped with modern technology and devices such as drones.
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša formally nominated Marjan Dikaučič, an official receiver, Slovenia's new justice minister after the candidate was put forward by the Modern Centre Party (SMC). Dikaučič is slated to replace Lilijana Kozlovič, who resigned when the government annulled the call for applications for the country's European delegated prosecutors.
STRASBOURG, France - The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović urged the Slovenian authorities in a memorandum to put a stop to the deterioration of the situation regarding media freedom and freedom of expression in the country. In the context of media freedom, she pointed to harassment, intimidation and criminal lawsuits against journalists. Prime Minister Janez Janša retorted by describing Mijatović as part of as "fake news network", which earned him a rebuke from several international organisations of journalists.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kövesi expressed concern about the deadlock in the appointment of European delegated prosecutors (EDP) from Slovenia, saying it would affect the efficiency of the office and trust in oversight of EU funds. But she said her hands over the situation were tied.
LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed in a unanimous vote amendments to the penal code that redefine sexual consent in line with the concept that only yes means yes. The vote was hailed as historic by MPs, who said the credit should go to the NGOs which mobilised the public to create a genuine social movement.
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) officially took over 38 Oshkosh four-wheeled light tactical vehicles purchased from the US under a government-to-government deal. Another 37 vehicles are to be ordered this year.
SATURDAY, 5 June
KOČEVSKI ROG - Retired Ljubljana Archbishop Anton Stres addressed the annual memorial and mass for victims of post-WWII reprisal killings in the Kočevski Rog woods, noting that that reconciliation was yet to be reached in Slovenia. He said the conditions for that include revealing truth about the post-war executions and condemning those who have committed the acts and forgiveness by those from the other side.
VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis appointed Slovenian Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, as the new apostolic nuncio in Canada. Jurkovič has been the Holy See's permanent observer in several organisations in Geneva in the last five years.
ANNECY, France - Golfer Pia Babnik scored the first Slovenian win at the Ladies European Tour as she won the EUR 200,000 Jabra Ladies Open tournament in the Evian Resort Golf Club in France, earning a ticket for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
SUNDAY, 6 June
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor said he does not support a potential early election, arguing in an interview for TV Slovenija that a vote during Slovenia's EU presidency would mean the country misses a rare opportunity to strengthen its reputation on the international stage.
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor announced he will award presidential decorations to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), the Koper bureau of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and to the Slovenian bureau of Italian public broadcaster RAI.
POZNAN, Poland - Slovenia's pair Špela Ponomarenko Janić and Anja Osterman won today's 200-metre race at the Canoe Sprint European Championships. This is their first gold from European or world championships.
LJUBLJANA - The German youth football team won the UEFA U-21 European Championship by beating Portugal 1:0. Lukas Nmecha scored the only goal in the 49th minute to secure the third title for Germany since the competition began in 1978.
MONDAY, 7 June
BRDO PRI KRANJU - European Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas visited Slovenia before it assumes EU presidency on 1 July, discussing with Interior Minister Aleš Hojs the priorities of the presidency. Hojs said the new pact on migration and asylum was a priority in the field of internal affairs.
SEOUL, South Korea - Foreign Minister Anže Logar started a two-day visit to South Korea by officially opening the first Slovenian embassy in Seoul. Janez Premože, a former Slovenian ambassador to India and China, has been named ambassador.
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders reiterated his call for Slovenia to appoint European delegated prosecutors for the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) as soon as possible. He hopes that he could soon discuss the issue with the new Slovenian justice minister.
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor hosted members of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference for lunch as Slovenia marks the 30th anniversary of independence. Pahor and Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore made a joint statement on the occasion saying all Slovenians should stand together, just like they did during the independence efforts.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia and China signed a protocol on the export of Slovenian poultry, a key precondition for the export of food products to the Asian country. Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek said a protocol on pork would follow soon.
IZOLA - Slovenia assumed the two-year chairmanship of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development, a multi-stakeholder advisory body set up under the Barcelona convention, as the commission opened its 19th session.
LJUBLJANA - Writer, publisher and editor Tanja Tuma was elected the new president of Slovenian PEN. She said she would like to open up Slovenian PEN to new members, foremost young writers.
TUESDAY, 8 June
LUXEMBOURG - There was progress in the debate on the migration pact, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said as he attended an EU ministerial. The debate on strengthening the European Asylum Support Office's (EASO) mandate could be advanced already during Portugal's presidency, but if not, the Slovenian EU presidency should make it happen in the second half of the year.
SEOUL, South Korea - Foreign Minister Anže Logar met his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-Yong as he continued his two-day visit. The pair urged strengthening political and economic ties between Slovenia and South Korea.
LJUBLJANA - Hungarian energy group MOL acquired a network of 120 service stations operated by Austrian energy group OMV in Slovenia, subject to regulatory approval. The purchase consideration for the outright stake in the company OMV Slovenija is EUR 301 million. MOL's subsidiary INA already holds a 7.75% stake.
SLADKI VRH - A new production line at the Paloma hygienic paper factory has been launched. Worth EUR 41 million, this is the largest investment in the Slovenian paper industry in the last 40 years and will make Paloma a competence centre for high-quality tissue products within the Slovak SHP Group.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek and his Italian counterpart Stefano Patuanelli talked via video call to conclude that the countries cooperate well in agriculture. They agreed that Slovenia and Italy shared the same views on the common agricultural and fisheries policy.
LJUBLJANA - Speaker Igor Zorčič decided not to call a plenary session to debate the opposition Left's party programme after the coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) requested this last week, arguing the programme contained elements suggesting the Left could act against the country's constitutional order.
NEW YORK, US - Slovenia and Kiribati established diplomatic relations. A joint statement to that effect was signed at the Slovenian Mission in New York by the Slovenian and Kiribati ambassadors at the UN, Darja Bavdaž Kuret and Teburoro Tito.
WEDNESDAY, 9 June
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor hosted his Swiss counterpart Guy Parmelin for official talks to confirm the friendly relations between the two countries. The presidents agreed that relations could be further strengthened at both international and bilateral levels, in particular in business, research and science.
PORTOROŽ - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and his Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović discussed strategies to facilitate border crossing between Slovenia and Croatia, for hauliers, tourists and daily commuters. While it was agreed a new checkpoint will open near Brežice for daily commuters, police were tasked with coming up with a solution at Obrežje and Gruškovje to enable a faster flow of lorries.
LJUBLJANA - Jette Ostan Vejrup, a Danish-Slovenian actress born in 1962 who is member of the Ljubljana City Theatre, was declared the winner of this year's Borštnik Ring, Slovenia's top accolade for lifetime achievement in theatre acting. The jury said that Ostan Vejrup's breakthrough into Slovenian theatre has expanded its boundaries.
LJUBLJANA - The coalition proposed amendments to the act on public contracting in healthcare under which prices of medical equipment would be regulated with a system of reference prices. A new government office would set the reference prices.
LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left filed criminal complaints against the ruling Democrats (SDS) and "its media network" for suspicion of a systemic spread of non-truths about the party's platform. The party also pressed charges against Police Commissioner Anton Olaj for suspicion of abuse of office.
THURSDAY, 10 June
LJUBLJANA - The government declassified a 2011 document about possible further paths in the process of constitutional reform of Bosnia-Herzegovina, compiled by former Slovenian President Milan Kučan. The move comes after an alleged non-paper on border changes in the Western Balkans attributed to Slovenia had been circulated in the public. It was not immediately clear if this is document that had been subject to public scrutiny.
PORTOROŽ - Brdo-Brijuni Process interior ministers discussed on the final day of their informal meeting illegal migration, highlighting the need for better cooperation. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs named data exchange with Western Balkan countries and the use of EU databases as possible solutions.
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a regulation that details how the STA should perform its public service, and defines the scope of public service and its financing. STA staff said regulation did not address the underlying issues relevant to the agency's survival and development
LJUBLJANA - Uroš Urbanija, the head of the Government Communication Office (UKOM), filed a criminal complaint against Katarina Bervar Sternad of the Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy and lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar. He accused them of making false accusations against him over the suspension of STA funding.
LJUBLJANA - Austrian author Josef Winkler was declared the winner of this year's International Vilenica Prize. Winkler said he knew quite a few previous Vilenica winners and was proud to be among them.
LJUBLJANA - The government decided to extend the majority of existing coronavirus restrictions while slightly easing them in the cultural sector, where serving food and drinks will once again be permitted during cultural events.
LJUBLJANA - Chinese company Huawei announced it planned to set up a regional logistic hub in Slovenia for some 19 markets of central and south-eastern Europe. As a result, the flow of its goods through the port of Koper will increase and new storage facilities will need to be built near Ljubljana airport.
PARIS, France - Tamara Zidanšek lost in the semi-finals of the French Open in Paris to Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in what was only the second semi-final appearance for a Slovenian woman tennis player in the singles competition at a Grand Slam tournament in almost four decades and a half.
STA, 11 June 2021 - Former Slovenian President Milan Kučan believes the government declassifying a 2011 document on possible further paths in the process of constitutional reform of Bosnia-Herzegovina, compiled by him, is a move to divert attention from the allegations that PM Janez Janša was spreading a non-paper on re-drawing of borders in the Western Balkans.
"I understand the government's decision to remove the confidentiality label from the document as diverting attention from the reproaches to the prime minister about disseminating a non-paper on the changing of borders in South-east Europe," Kučan told the STA on Friday.
This comes after the government said on Thursday it had declassified a document dated 26 January 2011 on "possible further paths for a successful process of the constitutional reform of Bosnia-Herzegovina".
In the announcement, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) noted that the document had been created based on a decision of the government that had been in office at the time.
It was the government of Borut Pahor (2008-2011) that appointed Slovenia's first President Milan Kučan as its special rapporteur on Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2010.
According to Kučan, the document has already been published in a book by historian Božo Repe, and "is no secret".
The document published on the government website today is indeed identical to the document published in the book mentioned by Kučan. And it is not the document that the news portal Necenzurirano released in April claiming that this was the non-paper attributed to Slovenia.
It is, however, not yet clear whether this is the document the government refers to as the STA is still waiting for government approval to access the document.
The government said yesterday that, "considering that the content of the document has for the most part been publicly known for several weeks, the conditions required for this document to retain the classified status no longer exist."
This is probably a reference to the content of the document possibly being similar to that of the alleged non-paper on border changes in the Western Balkans.
Kučan told the STA that he had prepared the report for the Borut Pahor government at the time as the prime minister was to speak about Bosnia-Herzegovina at a session of the European Council.
"In it I speak mostly about the EU needing to show more interest in Bosnia-Herzegovina which is, as I wrote, a non-functioning state, to bring it back on its feet so that it is capable of negotiating conditions for the EU accession," he added.
Kučan stressed that his report could by no means be compared with the controversial non-paper that allegedly speaks about new borders in the Western Balkans. It has been informally labelled as Slovenian as certain media reported that Janša had helped disseminate it, which the prime minister denies.
"There is not a single word in my document about changing borders," the former president said, adding that the government's move was about diverting attention from the non-paper, the discussion about which could not be concluded in such a way.
"I said about the non-paper in an interview with a Bosnian TV station ... that the prime minister of my country denies this and if he says so, then we probably should believe this," Kučan added.
Pahor, who currently serves his second term as the president of the republic, also took issue with the government declassifying the document, saying that it should have stayed confidential.
"This report is not intended for public, but for political decision-makers and I think that it should have remained such," he told the press as he visited the Muslim Cultural Centre in Ljubljana today.
The president noted that it was a document with a title, date and signatory, and that he had asked Kučan to compile it as it had been expected from Slovenia in a debate on Bosnia to have "special knowledge given its experience about the topic."
STA, 9 June 2021 - Several international journalist organisations condemned Wednesday Prime Minister Janez Janša's tweet that said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović was "part of #fakenews network". This came after her warning about deteriorating media freedom in Slovenia. The organisations agree with her assessment of the situation.
"We welcome a memorandum by Commissioner Mijatović and share her concern over the deterioration of media freedom in Slovenia, which coincides with findings of our recent fact-finding mission in the country," said Article 19, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI), Free Press Unlimited (FPU) and OBC Transeuropa.
Their joint press release says that their findings on the situation will be part of a report produced by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) mission to Slovenia. The mission was conducted in late May and early June and the report is expected to be published in July.
Mijatović's office is independent and unbiased, which is also reflected in the memorandum, said the organisations, highlighting that the commissioner had not only released the report but also a six-page document displaying views by the Slovenian government.
"The tone and manner in which PM Janša voiced his disagreement with Commissioner Mijatović's memorandum are in our opinion completely inappropriate for a leader of a democratic EU country," the press release says.
Janša wrote in English on Twitter on Sunday: "Unfortunately, @Dunja_Mijatovic is part of #fakenews network. Well paid by our money."
The organisations pointed out that the irony was that exactly this kind of conduct by officials on social media raised the alarm in the memorandum, calling on Janša to refrain from such statements in the future and instead strive to remedy the alarming situation.
Janša has responded to the organisations' press release saying that "the manner in which @Dunja_Mijatovic is spreading lies about Slovenia is totally unacceptable". "And we will not tolerate this without telling the truth."
Mijatović urged the Slovenian authorities in the memorandum, published on Friday, to stop the deterioration of media freedom and freedom of expression in the country.
She raised concern over harassment, including sexist harassment against female journalists, intimidation, criminal lawsuits against reporters and the government's attitude to public media.
As part of preparations for the report, Mijatović held talks with President Borut Pahor and a number of ministers in April but not with Janša. She also talked to journalists of different media, politicians, experts and representatives of the civil society.
STA, 8 June 2021 - The public service provided by the Slovenian Press Agency, STA would be subject to detailed new rules under a draft government regulation that the agency's director has described as yet another attempt to bypass two laws that require the government to provide public funding for the agency and as unlawful.
Unlike the law governing the STA, which provides broad outlines of the public service, the draft regulation defines exactly what the public service should look like.
It stipulates that special summaries of Slovenian and English news have to be open to the public, distinct from the news wire the agency markets to subscribers and available in a separate section of the web page.
At present, lead paragraphs and condensed news for radio stations are designated as public service and freely available.
Photos about key events and all content about minorities would also have to be available free of charge, the regulation determines.
The second set of provisions deals with the public service fee, introducing the concept of net expenses the agency incurs in the provision of public service.
In effect, the public service fee would cover the difference between total costs and commercial revenue, whereby even revenue for dedicated commercial projects the STA is performing for public bodies would count as public revenue.
The fee would be paid monthly based on the volume of public service performed in the month before; at present, the public funding, which is currently suspended, is paid monthly but does not specifically depend on monthly output.
The decree also deals with commercial services, requiring that any commercial activities be in compliance with generally accepted professional standards and the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, independence, and public accountability.
The STA would have to report quarterly to the Government Communications Office (UKOM) about the realisation of the business plan and UKOM would also annually evaluate whether the public service fee is lower or higher than net costs.
The oversight by UKOM also involves access to information about the STA financial and accounting practices.
Financially, the decree is estimated at EUR 2 million annually, which is broadly in line with what the agency has been receiving in the past.
The decree was announced last week as an attempt to end the impasse over financing that has left the agency without payment for public service for 159 days.
However, STA director Bojan Veselinovič has described it as "a new manoeuvre to bypass two laws that the government has been violating since the start of this year".
He said nobody had consulted with the agency about these changes, which would have been expected "if they actually wanted to do us good".
He also stressed that the EUR 2 million does not amount to actual funding, it is only an amount reserved for this purpose, while the final judgement about the funding would be up to the UKOM director.
Veselinovič announced legal action against the decree, saying the agency would "use all legal remedies" to challenge it in court.
A legal opinion commissioned by the STA makes similar points, arguing that the decree infringes on the fundamental principle of law which stipulates that executive regulations must be substantively based on the law they refer to.
It highlights as particular problematic the provision which states what kind of commercial services the STA may or may not perform, arguing that this has no place in a regulation that declaratively deals with its public service.
The Trade Union of Journalists (SNS) and the Association of Journalists (DNS) expressed opposition to the draft decree, assessing that it was unconstitutional and encroaching upon the editorial and managerial autonomy of the STA.
The SNS said it "represents the realisation of the politically motivated goal of the current government that it has pursued with the illegal suspension of financing of the public service of the STA, that is to subjugate the public service."
The DNS said that the decree was unnecessary, and that it would result in greater control by UKOM and its director over the independent public media outlet and "enable further extortion and applying of pressure on the STA."
STA, 8 June 2021 - Speaker Igor Zorčič will not call a plenary session to debate the opposition the Left's (Levica) party programme after the coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) requested this last week, arguing the programme contained elements suggesting the Left could act against the country's constitutional order.
Explaining on Friday the SDS's decision to request the session, SDS MP Branko Grims said that "everyone and all, but most of all parliamentary parties, are bound by the constitution. In Slovenia we have a parliamentary party which publicly advocates limiting capitalism, introducing socialism and seizing property."
In the request the initiators of the session problematise the Left's statements about stopping privatisation and ensuring public ownership, the newspaper Delo reported last week.
They also highlight the Left's "revolutionary" manifesto which some pro-government news portals published a month ago, but which the Left said was fake.
Speaker Zorčič asked the National Assembly's legal service to provide an opinion to dispel any doubts which institution is in charge of deciding on constitutionality.
He told the press on Tuesday the request showed the petitioners would also like parliament to task the government to carry out oversight of parliamentary parties.
"Such a resolution would be in my view an unparalleled absurdity in a normal parliamentary democracy," he said.
Zorčič will thus not call the session, arguing the legal service's opinion shows that conditions for the session are not met.
The constitution, law and parliamentary rules of procedure prevent the National Assembly from evaluating party documents or actions from the aspect of the constitution or recommending to other institutions to act in any way in relation to that, reads Zorčič's reply to the SDS and NSi.
The legal opinion also says the government's oversight of a political party would be inadmissible interference in the constitutional right to assembly, while limiting or preventing the work of parliamentary opposition would be against the basics of parliamentary democracy, explained Zorčič.
The SDS said today it was surprised by such a decision with deputy group head Danijel Krivec saying that under the current practice, initiators were always invited to supplement or amend their requests based on the opinion of the legal service.
"We have the feeling that he wants to silence us and that they do not want a debate about this in the National Assembly," he said, adding that he could not remember the parliamentary speaker stopping such an initiative ever before.
The Modern Centre Party (SMC) did not join the other two coalition parties' request last week, with deputy group leader Gregor Perič arguing it could enhance "radicalisation".
However, he said such a debate could prove beneficial in that it could be established whether some political programmes departed from what is set down in the constitution.
Standing firmly behind its programme, the Left said there were no problems in the programme whereas there were in society.
Matej T. Vatovec labelled the SDS's proposal a serious threat to democracy, announcing the party would use all legal means to fight against it.
He also said on Friday the Left expected the National Assembly's legal service to say that such debates were inadmissible in parliament.
The party said today that Zorčič's decision had been expected, saying that it was the "SDS together with its satellite NSi who undermines with such acts the very foundations of parliamentary democracy."
Vatovec said that the request was primarily an "attempt at raising smoke screens while the SDS is trampling on the state and subjugating institutions".
Opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deputy Brane Golubović labelled it an attempt at "diverting attention and opening up ideological topics", and his party colleague Jerca Korče said it was up to the Constitutional Court to assess whether the acts by a political party were unconstitutional.
The opposition Social Democrats (SD) wrote it was an abuse of sorts of the National Assembly and an attempt to put an end to "moderate politics", and its MP Matjaž Nemec added there was no legal basis for what the coalition party had requested.
The speaker's decision was also welcomed by the opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), with MP Maša Kociper saying that such a session and evaluation whether a party's programme was appropriate would violate the principle of separation of powers.
Political analyst Marko Balažic has told the Siol news portal that "this is an episode of a classical Slovenian culture war where one has to position itself left or right, while nobody is talking any content".
STA, 8 June 2021 - The National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič and National Council Speaker Alojz Kovšca have condemned a t-shirt displaying an image of the late collaborationist general Leon Rupnik in the parliament building. The person holding the t-shirt took a picture in the National Council chamber, news portal 24ur.com reported.
The picture shows Aleš Ernecl, editor-in-chief of the National Press Agency (NTA). The NTA had plans earlier in the year to become one of the major media outlets in Slovenia, but things went wrong when Ernecl described the agency as a 'fascist media' outlet. He later said the statement was just him being sarcastic.
Ernecl posted the photo on Twitter with a caption reading "Leon's home again" in another move that has raised dust in the public. The picture was taken during Ernecl's visit to Zmago Jelinčič, the leader of the National Party (SNS), according to 24ur.com.
Leon spet doma. pic.twitter.com/BzGPmRdvfB— ALEŠ ERNECL (@alesernecl) June 7, 2021
Leon Rupnik being a Nazi in Ljubljana. Photo: Wikipedia, public domain
Representatives of the National Council, the upper chamber of Slovenia's parliament, told the portal that Ernecl had not been invited to the parliament building by the National Council.
Kovšca said it was unacceptable "to provoke the public with an abuse of the National Council institution", noting that the upper chamber of the parliament was the home of civil society, democracy and pluralism.
He also advised Ernecl and everybody else to wear or display Slovenian national symbols, and distanced himself from any display of collaborationist or totalitarian symbols.
Also commenting on the provocation, Zorčič said that in line with the parliament rules and customs, everyone who enters the building should be dressed appropriately.
"If you ask me, such a t-shirt was inappropriate," he said, adding that he did not know who let Ernecl in the parliament dressed like that.
Jelinčič, who hosted Ernecl on Monday, described the move as a "stupid provocation and attention seeking". "Some with Che Guevara and the red star, others with Rupnik. Both is stupid," he said.
An army general during the First World War, Rupnik (1880-1946) headed the Provisional Government of the Nazi-occupied Province of Ljubljana and served as chief inspector of the Domobranci (Slovene Home Guard), a collaborationist militia, during WWII.
He led the Home Guard in an oath of allegiance on Adolf Hitler's birthday on April 20 in 1944.
In May 1945, he fled to Austria where he was arrested by the British and returned to Yugoslavia in early 1946. He was court-martialed along with several other people and sentenced to death for treason and collaboration, and executed by a firing squad in September 1946.
In 2019, the Supreme Court quashed Rupnik's guilty sentence on an appeal on a point of law lodged by his relative, and sent the case to the Ljubljana District Court for retrial.
The proceedings were then stopped as the Ljubljana District Court argued that a dead person could not be put on trial.
STA, 7 June 2021 - President Borut Pahor has announced he will award presidential decorations to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), the Koper bureau of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and the Slovenian bureau of Italian public broadcaster RAI.
"I believe these are three anniversaries, three important media institutions, which have made major contributions to us having freedom of speech, expression and media," he told a news show on TV Slovenija on Sunday evening.
The STA is celebrating the 30th anniversary this year, and the Koper bureau of RTV Slovenia marked its 50th anniversary this year.
Pahor will decorate the STA in the second half of the month, he explained on Monday, speaking to the press on the margin of a reception for Slovenian Catholic bishops.
He said the agency had played its irreplaceable role for 30 years already, doing its job professionally and with passion, contributing to freedom of the press and speech.
The STA is an agency without which many media outlets would not be able to report objectively on events in Slovenia and abroad, he said.
The STA has very successfully adhered to the standards of agency journalisms such as professionalism and unbiased reporting over the past 30 years, "which is the reason why it deserves a decoration for the mission it carries out", he added.
Pahor will decorate the STA upon the proposals of two former STA directors, Dejan Verčič and Tadej Labernik, and the Association of Slovenian Journalists. They urged him last month to decorate the STA on its 30th anniversary for its role and importance in Slovenia, both for the country's statehood and its democratic media.
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 4 June 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 4 June 2021 – Mladina, the left-wing weekly, says in its latest editorial that the excessive number of Covid-19 deaths in Slovenia is the responsibility of the government as it has acted as if it knows everything, while taking advantage of the epidemic as a state of emergency in order to achieve its political and economic goals.
"It was quickly clear to residents of this country that, despite the high-flying words and a lot of talk, it was not about as few people as possible getting infected and dying," the weekly says under the headline 4,265 Slovenian Flags.
The title refers to the small flags set up by the youth wing of the opposition Social Democrats (SD) in Tivoli Park in Ljubljana to commemorate as many victims of Covid-19 in Slovenia.
All this is the reason why the current government is so unpopular, and its latest great defeat is vaccination, and young people are now getting vaccinated because the "government's conduct and authoritarian governance has deterred many people from getting vaccinated."
Vaccination is a matter of trust and by expanding the age groups for vaccination, the government is trying to conceal the poor results when it comes to vaccination rates by all age groups, Mladina says.
"The government has not implemented any serious vaccination campaign, and the current campaign is carried out by friends of the leaderships of the coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi)."
They do not understand that this is not a campaign for Twitter, but hard work in which people who are away from the information flow need to be addressed, the weekly adds.
There is also some more bad news, as Slovenia should be gearing up for the autumn, when a new outbreak of the epidemic is expected. Hospital capacities should start to be expanded right away and new stimulus packages should be in the making.
"Last summer the virus disappeared, so to say. The government did practically nothing over the summer, it behaved arrogantly and rejected good-willed warnings - even at the end of August, when it was completely clear what was coming."
This "nothing" could be seen this week in the form of Slovenian flags in Tivoli Park, concludes the commentary.
STA, 3 June 2021 - It is bizarre that trade unions have joined leftist activists and organisations in the streets while the centre-right government is adopting a tax reform that will bring higher pay for all workers, the right-wing weekly Demokracija says in Thursday's editorial in reference to Friday's anti-government rally in Ljubljana.
"It has once again become obvious that Slovenian trade union associations are a political appendix of leftist political parties and that socialist ideas thrive only where workers are kept at the brink of survival."
But if various leftist activists and their rioting in the streets can somehow be understood, the leftist parties' exaggerated insistence on toppling the government defies common sense, says the weekly.
While noting that every political group aims to come to power to implement its political agenda, "the problem" is that the four centre-left political parties think that only they can be in power and that only their view of the world is legitimate and "normal".
Demokracija advises them that in order to push for their political agenda, they should first win an election, adding they had a chance to be in power but Prime Minister Marjan Šarec "chickened out" and the centre-left coalition collapsed more than a year ago.
The weekly says they should take a deep breath and wait for the election to get a new opportunity, adding that all their attempts to undermine the government and the prime minister with interpellation and impeachment motions have failed.
"If you can count, the Janez Janša government has quite enough votes in parliament. And your 'sniper' search for opponents is childish, your invention of bad things and manipulation is a sign of hopelessness and sick malice," Demokracija adds, saying they are turning into "narcissistic exhibitionists".
All our posts in this series are here
STA, 4 June - The National Assembly passed in a unanimous vote on Friday amendments to the penal code that redefine sexual consent in line with the concept that only yes means yes. MPs said during the debate that the credit should go to NGOs, which mobilised the public to create a genuine social movement.
The legislative proposal drawn up by NGOs and adopted by the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), had received unanimous support already at the parliamentary Justice Committee at the beginning of May, and it had no opponents today either.
Justice Ministry State Secretary Matic Zupan said that "as a society we have matured so much that we are ready to protect sexual integrity in a broader sense". The legal system will no longer wonder whether enough force was used in a case, but the use of force will be an aggravating circumstance, he said.
SD MP Bojana Muršič said the initiative for the legislative changes did not belong to any party. This is a law of many citizens, volunteers, who have been working for women's rights for years, and of NGOs.
"We want a more equal society in which we are developing a culture of consent, are learning to ask, hear and respect what is said. The legislative change will not miraculously cure our society, but it is a reflection of strong political will to change the mindset, empower victims and enable more efficient prosecution of perpetrators," she said.
Branislav Rajić from the group of unaffiliated MPs said that the changes to the penal code were sending a message to the victims that they had the support of politicians. "We encourage them to report such actions, as there is no more risk that perpetrators would go unpunished."
Dejan Kaloh from the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) said that the redefinition of violence in line with the only yes means yes model was more than required and a civilizational norm that should have been adopted long ago.
Tina Heferle (LMŠ) added that this was not a political but a social consent, while Predrag Baković (SD) warned that mere legislative changes would not suffice. "Even more resources need to be invested in support to victims, psychological support, support provided by institutions."
Matej T. Vatovec (Left) agreed that a lot of work remained ahead "if we want to remain an open and inclusive society".
The driving force behind the redefinition of sexual violence has in the past year been NGO Institute 8 March. Its head Nika Kovač said ahead of today's vote that the process of adopting the legislative changes had proven that there was a general human value in Slovenia, which was sexual integrity.
She stressed that parties across the political aisle had supported the motion, which clearly showed that "every victim of rape has a voice in the National Assembly". "We are convinced this would never have happened without the mass support of volunteers. Together, we have changed the society for the better."
Over 20 NGOs welcomed the passage as a "big step towards protection of sexual integrity and support to victims of sexual violence" in a joint press release.
"Today is a big day, not just for the victims of violence but for all of us who will be living in a slightly different society from now on," said Katja Zabukovec Kerin, the head of the Association for Non-violent Communication. She added that cooperation with both justice ministers, Andreja Katič and Lidija Kozlovič, and virtually all parties had been exemplary.
Nataša Posel from Amnesty International Slovenije spoke of a "historical moment", adding that relevant institutions and the society as a whole were now in for the important work of implementing the concept of consent.
Darja Zaviršek from the Faculty of Social Work said the legislative change was a "gigantic step towards formal equality between men and women" that will lead to a new understanding of human relations, encourage discussion on new topics among boys and girls, and promote new forms of intimacy between men and women.
STA, 5 June 2021 - Retired Ljubljana Archbishop Anton Stres addressed the annual memorial and mass for victims of post-WWII reprisal killings in the Kočevski Rog woods on Saturday, noting that that reconciliation was yet to be reached in Slovenia.
The conditions for that include revealing truth about the post-war executions and condemning those who have committed the acts and forgiveness by those from the other side, he added at the ceremony at the Pod Krenom grave site.
Stres said that reconciliation could not be reached with a single act, such as the reconciliation ceremony 31 years ago, when the first public ceremony for the victims of the post-war reprisal killings was held after several decades.
It is a process that has several steps, and the first step is, according to him, unconditional commitment to truth.
"Calls could be heard that history needs to remain as written and told in the time of the rule of those who perpetrated the killings. But truth cannot be locked down, and it is impossible to prescribe it, because it tells a story on its own."
Another step, according to Stres, is the right that the people who are lying in the chasms of Kočevski Rog and their relatives are still waiting for.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the first ceremony of reconciliation in Kočevski Rog, Slovenian Prime Minister @JJansaSDS and President @BorutPahor attended a memorial ceremony in Macesnova gorica.— Slovenian Government (@govSlovenia) June 8, 2020
?: https://t.co/OOn0GVoy9z pic.twitter.com/cnOb3GpzCC
"As long as no one is sentenced for these crimes and the vow of silence is so effective, with those who know many things not being allowed or not daring to talk, our country will not be what it should be," Stres said.
The third step towards reconciliation is forgiveness, which is the only way out "so that we start living a new life and look forward".
"To forgive means not to sweep things under the rug and say that a crime is not a crime. To forgive means letting go of any revengefulness and look forward, and not backwards," Stres said.
He assessed that there was not enough compassion in Slovenia for all post-war mass graves to be properly marked, and that after 76 years all victims could get a grave appropriate to their "inalienable human dignity".
According to him, the blame is also on various political groups that fail to make the necessary steps, "because they do not want to lose a certain number of voters or are cemented in past ideologies of hatred and false propaganda."
The ceremony organised by the New Slovenian Covenant association was also attended by Prime Minister Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Janez Janša and several ministers, including Defence Minister Matej Tonin.
Tonin, the president of the coalition New Slovenia party, said in a statement that histories of nations were very different and sometimes very painful.
"But it nevertheless needs to be accepted as it is - realistic and without sugar-coating. Wounds of the past need to be healed, and the dead need to be shown the basic civilisational respect by giving them proper burial," he added.
What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.
FRIDAY, 28 May
LJUBLJANA - Igor Zorčič remained parliamentary speaker as only 45 MPs voted to dismiss him in a secret ballot, one short of the needed majority, just like in the first attempt on 30 March after he quit the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC).
MOSCOW, Russia - As EU presiding country, Slovenia will make efforts to reduce tensions in relations with Russia, Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar announced after meeting his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Lavrov said he would like EU-Russia relations to be normalised.
LJUBLJANA - More than one million Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Slovenia as 653,310 people received a first shot and 381,619 were fully inoculated, data from the National Institute of Public Health showed. The figures mean that just over 31% of Slovenia's entire population has received at least one dose, and just over 18% has been fully vaccinated.
LJUBLJANA - Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital protesting against the government's actions and calling for an early election. The rally included various groups and movements and was supported by trade unions and the centre-left opposition.
LJUBLJANA - The government and ten out of over 40 public sector trade unions signed a deal which abolishes some of the remaining austerity measures introduced during the financial crisis, delays the payday and raises the holiday allowance. It is estimated at EUR 65 million. The majority of the unions signed the deal, but some have refused.
LJUBLJANA - Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić was on an working visit to Slovenia meeting Prime Minister Janez Janša to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral relations and Montenegro's EU prospects. Krivokapić also met Speaker Igor Zorčič and President Borut Pahor.
AJDOVŠČINA - Biotech company BIA Separations - Sartorius launched a new production facility, which increases the company's production capacities fivefold. The new production facility of 3,200 square metres will be used to produce chromatographic columns for cleaning new generations of medicines.
SATURDAY, 29 May
SEŽANA - Luka Mesec pledged for the Left to do all in its power to make the future free, democratic and green, as the party met for a congress to set out its green manifesto and launch elections to the party council. The results of the vote were not immediately announced.
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša and his wife Urška Bačovnik Janša were in Zagreb to attend a ceremony marking Croatia's Statehood Day. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković invited Janša and his spouse to attend a concert in front of the Croatian National Theatre.
SUNDAY, 30 May
BRDO PRI KRANJU - Slovenian President Borut Pahor and his German and Portuguese counterparts, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, highlighted the importance of Europe's unity and the European idea as they held a meeting in Brdo pri Kranju.
BRDO PRI KRANJU - President Borut Pahor said Slovenia was not in a political crisis, it was just in the midst of "heightened political uncertainty". There is enough maturity and experience in Slovenian politics that the country may preside the Council of the EU at a level that fulfils the high expectations of all 27 member states, he said.
GORNJI GRAD - Maksimilijan Matjaž was installed as the new Bishop of Celje, almost three months after his appointment was announced by the Vatican. The ceremony was held at the Cathedral of St. Hermagoras and Fortunatus in Gornji Grad, the biggest church in the Celje diocese.
MONDAY, 31 May
LJUBLJANA - After contracting by an estimated 5.5% in real terms last year, Slovenia's economy returned to growth in the first quarter of the year as GDP expanded at an annual rate of 1.6% in real terms or by as much as 2.3% when adjusted for season. It rose by 1.4% from the final quarter of 2020, the Statistics Office said.
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, visiting as Slovenia is soon to take over the rotating EU presidency from Portugal agreed that presidents played an important role in the process despite the EU presidency being managed by governments.
LJUBLJANA - The Hungarian OTP Bank Group announced it had signed a contract to acquire the outright stake in NKBM, Slovenia's second largest bank, making OTP the biggest player on the Slovenian banking market. The deal is to be finalised in the second quarter of next year.
BRDO PRI KRANJU - Addressing the annual consultation of Slovenian diplomats dedicated to Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Slovenia was well prepared for the presidency, listing the Conference on the Future of the EU and the progress of Western Balkan countries on their path towards the EU as the key topics.
BRDO PRI KRANJU - President Borut Pahor vowed to make an effort for Slovenia to accomplish its job as the president of the Council of the EU with "maturity, cooperation and responsibility", as he urged a strengthening of pro-European policies in his address to diplomats.
LJUBLJANA - The head of the national advisory group for Covid-19 vaccination, Bojana Beović, said the group would recommend vaccinating children, especially children suffering from chronic diseases, after the European Medicines Agency's approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 or more.
TUESDAY, 1 June
BRDO PRI KRANJU - PM Janez Janša said in his address to Slovenian diplomats that the key challenges for the EU in the coming period were getting back on its feet after the Covid-19 pandemic and setting itself strategic goals, including expansion to the Western Balkans.
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told reporters at the launch of the European Public Prosecutor's Office that the European Commission was in contact with the Slovenian authorities for Slovenia to fulfil its obligations regarding the appointment of its European delegated prosecutors as soon as possible but had so far not received a positive answer.
LJUBLJANA - The Prosecution Council announced it would propose that the State Attorneys Office file a lawsuit against the government for breach of law to the detriment of public interest after the government annulled the procedure to appoint Slovenia's two European delegated prosecutors.
LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly rejected a proposal from the centre-left opposition for a consultative referendum on the government-sponsored bill on the national Demographic Fund.
LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the act on road transport that create the legal basis for transportation platforms such as Uber or Lyft, changes that the government argues will facilitate the digitalisation of the transport sector.
LJUBLJANA - A month-long fundraising campaign by the Association of Slovenian Journalists (DNS), which has raised EUR 264,500 for the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), ended. Donations via SMS are no longer possible, but those via bank transfer are possible until the end of June.
WEDNESDAY, 2 June
LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court declared provisions of the communicable diseases act allowing the government to restrict movement and public assembly unconstitutional, and annulled the government decrees that were based on this law, including those relating to the night curfew, ban on assembly, and confining citizens to their regions or municipalities.
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted the programme of Slovenia's presidency of the EU covering four priority areas - resilience and recovery, the rule of law, a credible and safe EU, and the Conference on the Future of Europe.
LJUBLJANA - The government changed the decree on the conditions for entering Slovenia to recognise a negative rapid antigen test in addition to a negative PCR test as of 5 June until 13 June. Some restrictions in the services sector were also relaxed, including those concerning swimming pools, consuming food and drink at the takeaway points and the number of customers at shopping centres.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia received 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 on loan from Hungary in what Prime Minister Janez Janša said would allow Slovenia to stop the epidemic and enjoy a relaxed summer. Health Minister Janez Poklukar said Slovenia would return vaccines to Hungary expectedly in the autumn or by the end of the year.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission urged Slovenia to pay special attention to the structure of public finances and quality of budget measures as it released the European semester spring package. It recommends that the country strive for medium-term fiscal sustainability when the economic situation allows it.
PRAGUE, Czechia/ BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told his Czech counterpart Jan Hamáček and his Slovak counterpart Roman Mikulec in Bratislava Slovenia would focus during its EU presidency on negotiations on legislative acts as part of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum and on strengthening the Schengen zone.
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar talked on the phone with Liechtenstein's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education, and Sport Dominique Hasler. Bilateral cooperation, the upcoming Slovenian presidency of the EU and the Covid-19 pandemic topped the agenda.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj concluded a two-day working visit to Brussels dominated by talks with senior officials in preparation for the EU presidency. Meeting European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis, he emphasised the importance of fast and successful post-pandemic recovery.
THURSDAY, 3 June
LJUBLJANA - The government established the Recovery and Resilience Office. The new department will operate under the Finance Ministry to coordinate and manage the implementation of the national recovery and resilience plan. The office will be inaugurated on 1 August at the latest.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - President Borut Pahor started his two-day visit to Brussels by appearing in a debate with Brussels think-tanks, saying he would like Slovenia to use its presidency of the Council of the EU to enhance the union and its role in it.
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec told EU transport ministers that the priorities of Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency in transport would be sustainability and resilience.
LJUBLJANA - National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič took part in the first Three Seas Parliamentary Forum, which was held in a virtual format to discuss the role of parliaments in the initiative and how they could contribute to making it more recognisable.
LJUBLJANA - The government expanded the number of points where residents will be able to get their digital identity to expand the use of digital Covid certificates once they enter into force. In addition to administrative units, those points will include vaccination centres, social work centres, the Financial Administration and other points.
LJUBLJANA - The government changed the decrees limiting attendance at public sport and cultural events to increase the permitted number of viewers from 50% to 75% of the number of fixed seats at a venue. The eased attendance cap applies both to indoor and outdoor venues.
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Public Finances urged the government to resume STA funding as set down in a coronavirus relief law in three days. Culture Ministry State Secretary Ignacija Fridl Jarc announced that the ministry would like the funding dispute to get resolved and was thus drafting a decree.
LJUBLJANA - A total of 75,148 were registered as unemployed in Slovenia at the end of May, down 5.2% over April and 16.9% over May last year, in what is the fourth month in a row that unemployment decreased, the Employment Service said.