STA, 9 May 2022 - Zoran Janković has declared his intention to stand for his fifth straight term as mayor of Slovenia's capital in the autumn local elections. "It's nice to be Ljubljana mayor," he said on Monday.
Janković has served as Ljubljana mayor since 2006, winning every election since with an outright majority, including after a brief foray into politics at the national level in 2011 when his party Positive Slovenia won a plurality in the general election but Janković failed to form a government.
The 69-year-old mayor announced his renewed bid at Monday's City Council session marking Ljubljana Day in memory of the city's liberation in World War II. He praised his team and listed the projects implemented and planned by his administration, noting the importance of cooperation with the national government.
Listing the challenges ahead, including an energy crisis and a potential food crisis. "We must be prepared for all that, that's why I'm looking forward to our next government to be led by Robert Golob," he said, describing the prospective PM as one of Europe's biggest energy experts.
Janković, who used to be Golob's party boss, commented on the 24 April general election by saying that Slovenians said a no to PM Janez Janša and his divisive politics, disrespect for the rule of law and attacks on free media.
STA, 6 May 2022 - Responding to a protest letter from the Trade Union of Journalists (SNS) which speaks of pressure on the staff of the popular current affairs show Studio City, the management of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija rejected the accusations, demanding proof of the claims or in the opposite case, an apology.
In Friday's press release, the management of the public broadcaster strongly rejected the accusations of pressure and regretted that the trade union decided not to conduct direct dialogue with the management before addressing the public.
It said that such a way of communication was inadmissible damaging the reputation of the public broadcaster, adding that such an approach failed to enable constructive dialogue.
The letter was penned after Studio City, a TV Slovenija show hosted by Marcel Štefančič since 1998, was suspended two months ago, whereupon the host's contract was not extended. The management has since announced that the show will return in May in a changed format and with a new host.
The SNS called on the management on Thursday to stop exerting pressure on Studio City's team, saying it intended to use all legal and other means to protect their professional integrity, which is now threatened, including from the TV Slovenija news programme editor-in-chief.
The management said in Friday's press release that it demanded from the trade union to present clear explanations and proof of the alleged pressure from the management on the editors of the show.
"If there has been undue pressure on the creators of Studio City, we will take appropriate action, otherwise we expect an apology from the union and retraction of the statements."
The management assessed that the SNS's demand that Štefančič return to the show as host exceeded its competences, as the content of the programme is entirely within the powers of the editor-in-chief, who is also legally responsible for it.
It reiterated that the contract with Štefančič was not terminated but expired at the end of March, and that the management decided not to renew it due to his "insulting statements".
The Mladinsko Theatre meanwhile announced that Štefančič would host a special edition of Studio City on Monday at the Mladinsko Theatre live. A ticket will cost two euro, and the show will also be streamed online.
Editors of RTV Slovenija TV programmes meanwhile urged director general Andrej Grah Whatmough in a statement obtained by the STA to find a solution to the benefit of the public broadcaster and the viewers. They said Studio City was a very important show and a trademark of RTV Slovenija, so any changes that would not be coordinated with the editors, journalists and hosts could damage RTV Slovenija's reputation.
STA, 5 May 2022 - The Constitutional Court said on Thursday that collecting personal data when determining whether a person meets the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule based on a government decree and not a law was unconstitutional. The government thus violated article 38 of the Constitution. The relevant decrees remain in force but will be annulled after one year.
Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik warned in August 2021 that a relevant legal basis should be adopted to enable checking of Covid certificates in hospitality and event industries, and asked the Constitutional Court to review the government decree on this, as the government claimed that the legal basis for checking compliance with the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule was the communicable disease act and the EU legislation, in particular the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
But the court dismissed this, noting that the GDPR was aimed at protecting individuals against inadmissible processing of personal data rather than allowing the state to process personal data.
The court said that the participation of individuals in social, political and religious life would depend on their consent to the processing of their personal information for the purpose of checking their compliance with the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule.
The government prescribed this with a decree, but the court decided that such a consent cannot be considered voluntary and thus also not a valid legal basis for interfering with the right to personal data protection.
Constitutional Court judges nodded to the information commissioner and clearly stated that any processing of personal data, even during an epidemic, when emergency measures are needed, is a breach of the constitutional human right to personal data protection, which is why a law is needed, the information commissioner said in response to the ruling.
"In Slovenia, it is prohibited to regulate data processing with government decrees, as they are not the result of a democratic decision-making process that can only take place in the National Assembly," the information commissioner added.
The government had more than enough time to adopt a relevant law that would allowed it to act legally, the commissioner said.
The disputed decrees remain in force, as their annulment would prevent the government from meeting its constitutional obligation of protecting people's lives and health, so the court decided the annulment will take affect after one year.
During this time, the government must make sure that a legal basis for the decree is passed, clearly stating which data may be collected and processed, the purpose for which they may be collected and processed, and how this is to be monitored.
STA, 5 May 2022 - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed Andriy Taran, the former defence minister of Ukraine, the new ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Slovenia, according to the official website of the Ukrainian president.
Under the decree, the current Ukrainian Ambassador Mykhailo Brodovych, who has served in Slovenia since 2015, was relieved of his duties.
The incoming ambassador was the defence minister of Ukraine from March 2020 to last November, when he resigned from the post.
The 67-year-old retired lieutenant general in the Ukrainian Armed Forces was formerly a military attaché at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, US, and the deputy head of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine.
Zelensky also appointed yesterday new ambassadors to North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates.
STA, 3 May 2022 - Slovenia's human rights ombudsman and journalist organisations have urged action to address deteriorating press freedom in the country after Slovenia slid 18 spots to 54th in the latest World Press Freedom Index, the worst yet since Reporters Without Borders started compiling the ranking.
Ombudsman Peter Svetina says it is the authorities' duty to create a climate conducive to media freedom, and expects a suitable legal framework to be put in place to guarantee media freedom, ownership transparency and a ban on dissemination of hate speech in the media.
"For several years, we have been calling for amendments to the media act to provide for ways to protect the public interest, measures to remove illegal content or hate speech, and sanctions on media outlets that condone such speech. It is important the damages awarded are high enough to deter the media from publishing increasingly sensationalist and populist stories," Svetina wrote.
He urged decriminalising defamation, which being a criminal offence he sees as a threat to media freedom. Journalists are often targets of online harassment, and there are increasing reports of strategic lawsuits against journalists.
The ombudsman expects the new government to take on changes to the media law as a priority. "I expect the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) and the public broadcasting service [RTV Slovenija], which usually fall hostage to the winners of each election, to be able to work autonomously and without disruption."
The ombudsman also called for steps to make media advertising by national and local governments more transparent, saying the European Commission's noted the country's lack of transparent principles on the payment of media content, in particular at the local level. One problem is state-owned enterprises invoking business secrecy over those data.
The ombudsman also raised precarisation of journalism as another threat to media freedom, urging the state to find appropriate normative solutions to limit the problem.
Calls to change media law and in particular the act on the public broadcasting service have also come from journalist organisations and the NGO Legal Network is working with media experts on a new bill on RTV Slovenija.
The Slovenian Journalists' Association (DNS) noted that RTV Slovenija became the next target of the outgoing government after the STA showed it could not be pressured into submission, also with the help of crowdfunding launched a year ago.
Even though the DNS is not in favour of unsystematic changes to media legislation, they believe urgent action is needed to depoliticise RTV Slovenija and stop the decline in trust and professional standards and to allow the public media to function normally.
Their goal until next World Press Freedom Day will be to reform media legislation in a bid to create a systemic framework for successful functioning of the media in the country. "To do this, we need competent leadership and a team at the Media Directorate [at the Culture Ministry]," the DNS said, adding they expected the new government to deliver on those promises.
"Traditional media are finding it increasingly difficult to fund content that is not just click-bait. Politics, especially the incumbent ruling party, wanted journalists to be loyal political propagandists, and smeared those who refused to cooperate in every possible way," the DNS summed up how it sees the media situation in the country.
Jernej Amon Prodnik of the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences, the main journalism school in Slovenia, sees the decline in the country's press freedom ranking as a result of attacks on journalists and in demolition of the media space taken on systematically by the Janez Janša government when it assumed power in 2020.
"We have never seen such brutal attacks or political appointments of completely incompetent people in Slovenia, even though politics had tried to influence the media before," he said, adding that attacks on and interference in the media are a feature of authoritarian politics worldwide where Slovenia was no exception.
As a key measure to tackle the situation, Amon Prodnik underscored a reform of media law, along with self-restraint exercised by politics. Slovenia's legislation is completely outdated, which in the case of RTV Slovenija act "apparently makes it possible to stage a complete political takeover of a public service".
The leaders of the three parties that are in talks to form the next government reiterated today that tackling media legislation to ensure media freedom would be one of the first priorities of the next government.
Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, said they had already talked about a media law as one of the first that needed changing and they had solutions ready for the RTV Slovenija act, with Social Democrat leader Tanja Fajon adding the goal was to remove politics from the bodies running RTV Slovenija.
Robert Golob, the leader of the Freedom Movement, the party that won the election, said the slide on the World Press Freedom Index was but one of the signs it was high time to change government "and one of the easier goals for us to make better. We'll need to do that quickly."
PM Janez Janša commented on Twitter, asserting the situation in the Slovenian media space "is much worse still than what various media organisations are finding". He said Reporters Without Borders were not aware of the strong links the left bloc had to the media, noting that "editors and relatives" of the news portal 24ur.com and RTV Slovenija "stood on the tickets of left parties" in the 24 April election.
STA, 3 May 2022 - President Borut Pahor argued in an interview for Der Spiegel in favour of continued arms supplies to Ukraine and warned of the unpredictability of Vladmir Putin, saying it could lead to a nuclear conflict. He warned against underestimating the Russian military and noted the risk of the conflict spreading to Moldova, Georgia and the Western Balkans.
The president told the German paper that he could unfortunately no longer rule out a nuclear conflict, having lost confidence in the Russian president's judgment. While a nuclear conflict would make no sense, Pahor argued Putin had also not been deterred by the senselessness of the war in Ukraine.
Pahor, whom Der Spiegel described as one of Europe's most experienced statesmen, also stressed that he disagreed with an immediate embargo on Russian energy products. "I am in favour of a gradual reduction of dependence on Russian energy products, even though such a step may seem cowardly to some", Pahor added.
He also touched on criticism from Eastern Europe, where Germany is being accused of dragging its feet when it comes to imposing sanctions on Russia.
Pahor pointed out that if an embargo on Russian fossil fuels were imposed, Germany would suffer substantial economic damage, which explains the concerns. Nevertheless, Germany has radically changed its policy towards Russia, which makes him very proud of Germany.
The president moreover noted that Putin's pursuit of a military victory did not bode well for a start of serious peace negotiations at present.
On the contrary, the war could escalate, as Russia is prepared to make heavy sacrifices to win. In Moldova in particular, there is a strong fear of the conflict spreading to its territory, and the war could, he said, indirectly affect Georgia and the Western Balkans as well.
Pahor gave the interview during a working visit to Berlin on 28 April, where he met his German counterpart Frank Walter Steinmeier. The pair discussed, among other things, Russia's aggression against Ukraine and exchanged views on the situation in the Western Balkans.
On Ukraine, the two presidents agreed on the need for an early end to the Russian attacks and for diplomacy to regain its role and push for a peaceful solution. They said that Ukraine should be assisted in every way, politically, militarily and morally.
STA, 3 May 2022 - The police and the Information Commissioner have launched a probe after the personal information of a Polish citizen who took part in a recent protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Ljubljana was shared with an embassy employee by a police officer, Delo reports on Tuesday.
The Polish citizen, protesting at a security fence of the heavily guarded embassy, was asked by a police officer to step back and was identified.
Once the officer wrote down the information, he was approached by an embassy employee who had been recording the protest and demanded that the officer show what he had written down.
The officer complied and the embassy employee took a photo of his notes with a mobile phone, Delo says.
Concerned about his security, the Polish man contacted the Polish Embassy in Ljubljana, Polish Ambassador to Slovenia Krzysztof Olendzki told the paper.
As soon as he learnt about the incident, Olendzki filed a complaint against the police officer's conduct.
The police confirmed that an internal probe was under way, while the Information Commissioner initiated inspection proceedings on suspicion that the police officer mishandled personal information.
STA, 3 May 2022 - Robert Golob, the presumptive prime minister-designate, is expected to officially launch government formation talks on Tuesday with prospective coalition partners, the Social democrats and the Left. Golob has indicated he would like to form an operative government before summer.
Golob's Freedom Movement, which won 34.53% in the 24 April general election, which translates into 41 MP seats, would like to form a government as soon as possible, so it would become operative before the summer recess of parliament to be able to prepare for a potential new outbreak of Covid-19 and for the anticipated energy price hikes.
Informal talks between Golob and SD head Tanja Fajon and Luka Mesec from the Left started last week, immediately after the election, with the official talks slated to start today.
Fajon said after the election she would like the government formation talks to start as soon as possible, as Slovenia needed a stable and strong government.
Mesec, who got the party council's mandate for talks with the Freedom Movement, said he expected concrete steps towards a new government today.
It is expected that today's talks will result in an approximate distribution of ministries among coalition partners.
STA, 2 May 2022 - A convoy of 20 orphans from Ukraine and accompanying staff is on its way to Slovenia, where they will be accommodated in the village of Slavina near Postojna, Sandi Curk, commander of civil protection of the Notranjska region, said on Monday. The journey will be challenging, he admitted, expressing hope that the children will reach Slovenia soon.
Apart from 20 children, aged between one and seven, the convoy includes three doctors, several nurses and teachers and their children, Curk told the STA.
He said the journey would be a challenge "because of traffic jams and obstacles on the Ukrainian territory". Still, Curk believes "in the international law and the openness of territory" and hopes the children will cross the EU border in "foreseeable time".
He could not say when the convoy is to arrive to Slovenia, but noted the public would be informed.
The orphans are from the Luhansk orphanage No. 2 in eastern Ukraine. They are accompanied by 18 members of staff from Ukraine and their children, and are to stay in Slovenia until the end of the war in Ukraine.
Postojna Mayor Igor Marentič said a few days ago that everything was ready for their arrival and that locals were offering their help on a daily basis to make the children feel as comfortable as possible in Slovenia.
The children will be accommodated at the Folk School in Slavina, while the accompanying staff will stay at the Secondary School of Forestry and Woodwo
What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.
FRIDAY, 22 April
LJUBLJANA - It was revealed that Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek, who stepped down days before, had been in talks to sell a house to KŽK, the company which paid the hotel bill that triggered his resignation and which stood to benefit from his influence on the Farmland Fund.
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received individuals from Ukraine who took refuge from the war in their country in Slovenia. He lauded the courage of Ukrainians in standing up to the Russian aggression.
WASHINGTON, US - Boštjan Vasle, the governor of Slovenia's central bank, warned of lower-than initially expected economic growth and higher inflation as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He said EU members were most likely to suffer.
KOPER - The supervisory board of Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's sole seaport, confirmed a draft investment plan worth EUR 248 million through 2030 designed to increase the capacity of the container terminal to 1.75 million units per year from a million at present.
SUNDAY, 24 April
LJUBLJANA - Newcomer Robert Golob's Freedom Movement won the general election in a landslide, capturing 34.5% of the vote and an unprecedented 41 seats in the 90-member legislature. PM Janez Janša's SDS performed worse than in 2018 at 23.5% but got more seats, 27, because only three other parties made it to parliament. The results pave the way for a new centre-left coalition. Turnout exceeded 70%, the highest since 2000, highlighting the scope of Golob's win.
MONDAY, 25 April
LJUBLJANA - Freedom Movement president Robert Golob announced that coalition talks would start within days. He said he planned to reach out not just to the SD and Left but also to the liberal LMŠ and SAB, which did not make the 4% threshold to enter parliament, in a move signalling he plans to consolidate the liberal bloc.
LJUBLJANA - Near-final results showed 36 women were elected to the 90-seat National Assembly, which translates into 40% of all MPs, the highest since Slovenia gained independence. The largest number come from the Freedom Movement, more than half of whose MPs are women.
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulated Emmanuel Macron on being elected the president of France for a second term. Both were confident Slovenia and France would continue with their good cooperation.
LJUBLJANA - The 8 March Institute filed to parliament some 10,000 signatures in support of its bill aimed at repealing several government-sponsored laws the NGO finds harmful. Election winner Robert Golob voiced support for the bill and said it would be one of the first items on the new parliament's agenda.
LJUBLJANA - Neuroradiologist Zoran Milošević was found guilty of accepting EUR 101,300 in gifts and of money laundering in a case involving the purchase of brain aneurysm closure coils. He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined EUR 50,000.
ŠKOFJA LOKA - One of Slovenia's most prolific painters France Slana was reported having died at age 95. He was most known for his oil paintings and watercolours, but also for his prints, painted ceramics and tapestries.
TUESDAY, 26 April
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor met with election winner Robert Golob to tell him he would "fully cooperate" in efforts to make sure Slovenia gets a new government soon. He plans to nominate the prime minister-designate around 23 May, which would pave the way for the appointment of the new government in early June.
LJUBLJANA - Robert Golob, the most likely candidate for PM-designate, told TV Slovenija there was no need for Croatian politicians to feel uneasy about Slovenia-Croatia relations or open issues after the election. He reiterated that the border arbitration award was the cornerstone for any talks.
LJUBLJANA - The purchase of 45 Boxer armoured vehicles that Slovenia plans to acquire through the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) will cost EUR 343 million including tax, the Defence Ministry revealed hours after the Constitutional Court upheld a ban on a referendum on the matter. The ministry had previously said it would start price negotiations once the treaty with OCCAR enters into force.
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša alleged in a series of Twitter posts that Robert Golob, the winner of the general election, was pro-Russian, by virtue of associating himself with people Janša claims are pro-Russian.
ZAGREB, Croatia - President Borut Pahor held working talks with Croatian President Zoran Milanović. The discussion focused on the next Brdo-Brijuni Process, which will be held in Slovenia later this year.
BERLIN, Germany - Slovenia supports Ukraine in its battle against Russia's aggression and is willing to provide military and humanitarian assistance, Defence Minister Matej Tonin said as he attended a meeting of a 40-country contact group for Ukraine at Ramstein airbase.
LJUBLJANA - Jernej Pikalo stepped down as one of the four vice-presidents of the Social Democrats (SD) over what he labelled a poor election result for the party. He wants to encourage a discussion on what went wrong and how to proceed.
LJUBLJANA/KOPER - Three Slovenian researchers received the prestigious European Research Council grants. Astrophysicist Maruša Bradač got EUR 2.1 million for research into the early history of the universe, mathematician Franc Forstnerič EUR 1.6 million for work on holomorphic partial differential relations, and historian Borut Klabjan EUR 2.5 million for exploration of the history of cross-border practices in the Alps-Adriatic.
WASHINGTON - Slovenia honoured American Slovenians Mark Ryavec and Stephen Antalics with the Medal of Merit for their efforts for the US to recognise independent Slovenia. They received the medals on behalf of President Borut Pahor from Slovenian Ambassador to the US Tone Kajzer.
ŽUŽEMBERK - A 13-year-old student sustained light injuries when a shot was inadvertently fired from a pistol in a primary school in Žužemberk. The accident was the result of careless handling of the weapon brought to school by a 14-year-old student.
WEDNESDAY, 27 April
NEW DELHI, India - Paying a visit to India, Foreign Minister Anže Logar met with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue to discuss several issues, including bilateral cooperation and the consequences of the war in Ukraine.
STRASBOURG, France - The latest report by 15 media freedom partner organisations to the Council of Europe's Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists warned about the 2021 situation in Slovenia, noting assaults against journalists, the financial draining of the STA and the misuse of state funds to promote pro-government propaganda.
THURSDAY, 28 April
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted and forwarded to the European Commission the Stability Programme and the National Reform Programme for 2022. Citing the recent general election and major uncertainty in light of the Ukraine war, it did not provide any new measures in the plans, opting instead for a no policy change scenario and deciding to leave these to the incoming cabinet.
LJUBLJANA - The Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development downgraded its growth projection for Slovenia for this year from 4.7% in the autumn forecast to 4.2% in the spring forecast, expecting growth to slow down to 3% next year and to 2.8% in 2024 on the back of uncertainties linked to the war in Ukraine.
BERLIN, Germany - President Borut Pahor held working talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier to discuss the Russian aggression against Ukraine and exchange views on the situation in the Western Balkans. They expressed their deep concern about the flagrant violation of the international order by Russia in Ukraine.
LJUBLJANA - The government extended the validity of reduced excise duties on electricity, motor fuels, heating oil and natural gas for heating for three more months until 31 July. However, it did not take action to extent fuel price caps beyond their expiry at the end of April.
LJUBLJANA - The government proposed that the terms of five ambassadors - to Slovakia, Denmark, Italy, United Arab Emirates and Egypt - end in the summer and asked President Borut Pahor to consider the proposal.
LJUBLJANA - The government raised the funds allocated for the purchase of relocatable communication and information systems for the Slovenian Armed Forces from EUR 12.8 million to EUR 30.4 million. The Defence Ministry said the initial value was based on a rough estimate.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - It was confirmed that Matjaž Nemec, a SocDem vice president and MP, was slated to fill the European Parliament seat to be vacated by the party's head Tanja Fajon as she starts her term in the Slovenian National Assembly.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) was reported to have launched an independent inquiry into the appointment of Tomaž Kokot, an SDS politician who became director general of postal operator Pošta Slovenije several months ago amid allegations of political staffing.
LJUBLJANA - 2TDK, the state-run company managing the construction of the new railway track between the port city of Koper and the Divača junction inland, discarded the sole bid for the construction of rail and tunnel systems on the track because it was too expensive.
STA, 28 April 2022 - Eight Slovenian cities applied for the European Commission's Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities 2030 Mission, and three of them, Ljubljana, Kranj and Velenje, have been chosen to participate in the project, featuring in total 100 cities.
Ajdovščina, Izola, Maribor, Nova Gorica and Ormož also applied from Slovenia but they were not chosen. Due to the high level of interest - 377 cities wanted to participate - support would also be offered to those that were not selected.
In addition to cities from the EU, the Commission has selected 12 more cities from the countries linked to the EU's Horizon Europe research and innovation project.
The project will receive EUR 360 million in 2022-2023 through the Horizon Europe programme. Promoting alternative fuel vehicles, public transport, car sharing and green roofs, it will encourage the participants to become climate neutral by 2030.
The Commission finds it important to encourage the cities to work together to help others become climate neutral by 2050 given the significant carbon footprint of urban areas.