STA, 16 September 2021 - Seven police officers were injured and several police vehicles damaged on Wednesday after an initially peaceful protest featuring several thousand people against the Covid pass mandate turned violent. Nine rioters were apprehended, police said on Thursday. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs described the rioting as "scandalous".
Police broke up the rally after protesters started throwing bottles, rocks and lit torches at police and the Parliament House, breaking a dozen windows on the building. Tear gas and a water cannon were deployed.
Police Commissioner Anton Olaj told the press on Thursday that freedom of expression and assembly was a legitimate right, but it must be exercised without violence.
"We condemn all violence, including the conduct of protesters at yesterday's rally in Ljubljana, where mass violations of law and order occurred."
Olaj said more such incidents were expected. "We are ready and will continue to act as demanded by the law." He stressed that everyone who organises rallies must realise that they will be held accountable in the end, which includes covering the costs.
There has been criticism in the media of how police handled the protests, in particular the low number of officers at the start and the absence of fencing, which is a typical feature of smaller anti-government protests that take place at the same location each Friday.
Tomislav Omejec, the head of the general police sector at the General Police Department, said protection was organised based on the information available at the time, gleaned largely from Facebook posts.
Police numbers were stepped up once nightfall approached and officers protecting the Parliament House detected pressure escalating, he said.
Interior Minister Hojs described the rioting as "scandalous for a democratic society" and a "realisation of left fascism in practice", after yesterday accusing "offshoots" of left parties of being responsible for the riots.
Asked whether he had any evidence for that, he said it would be "difficult to prove directly whether this or that person called anyone, but this is a pattern that we saw last year", he said in reference to violent 5 November protests.
Unofficial information obtained by news portal N1 indicates that many rioters were football hooligans, who joined a rally that featured diverse groups of opponents of vaccination, masks and a wide spectrum of those displeased with the latest Covid pass mandate.
Hojs dismissed reports that the majority of the protesters were peaceful and that only a handful were problematic, noting that such rallies were always potentially risky if organisers allow groups that want incidents to join.
He also drew parallels with the anti-government protests that have been held each Friday for over a year. "If you look at the composition of people who were there yesterday, at least some of them have been regular visitors of Friday protests."
The rally was organised by several large Facebook groups, including a small political party called Resni.ca, whose leader Zoran Stevanovič said in a press release today that the original event had "nothing to do" with the subsequent violence.
"Because the authorities did not know how to divert attention from this public gathering, they activated a group of rioters immediately after the end of the rally to stage a battle with police... Unfortunately, many peaceful participants who were already dispersing suffered the consequences of police repression," he said.
STA, 15 September 2021 - Božo Dimnik, a lobbyist whose meetings with Prime Minister Janez Janša have been the subject of media scrutiny in recent days, has denied ever talking business with Janša, describing their meetings as "accidental".
"These were far from lobbying contacts, they were accidental meetings," Dimnik told Kanal A on Wednesday, adding that they never discussed business and that lobbying with a representative of the government would be "disrespectful".
Dimnik said he has been holidaying in Mauritius for forty years and had met Janša at the hotel reception.
A more recent report showed Dimnik on a yacht owned by the businessmen Andrej Marčič, reportedly in 2016. Another report showed Dimnik visiting Janša at home at an unknown date.
Dimnik said both meetings were "accidental", adding that they did not involve the planning or conclusion of any transactions.
Božo Dimnik za @Svet_KanalA o ozadju zasebnih druženj s premierjem @JJansaSDS: “Nikoli in nikdar nisva govorila o poslih, nikoli nisem lobiral.” Pravi, da je vedno šlo za naključna srečanja: “Janez Janša je po pomembnosti na repu mojih poznanstev.”— Kaja Kobetič (@KajaKobetic) September 15, 2021
Svet ob 17.55. pic.twitter.com/4TvbTsxqOQ
Dimnik is a prominent lobbyist and his daughter owns a major supplier of medical equipment that has done millions of euros worth of business with public hospitals.
He told Kanal A that his daughter's company had won all the deals in public tenders.
Janša's and Dimnik's 2003 meeting in Mauritius has already been investigated by the Corruption Prevention Commission, which did not find any irregularities with respect of the duty of public officials to report lobbying contacts, but the commission only checked his contacts ten years back.
A commission spokeswoman told Kanal A that the watchdog had now initiated a new preliminary inquiry based on the new facts. If they detect any irregularities, they will launch a full investigation.
Janša's lobbying contracts will also be the subject of a debate by the parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Public Finances, which continues on Thursday after Janša did not show up for the first session. It is unclear whether Janša will attend this time.
STA, 15 September 2021 - Police used a water canon and tear gas to disperse a group of several thousand protesters rallying against the Covid pass mandate in front of Parliament House on Wednesday.
The protest started out peacefully in the afternoon, but towards nightfall the crowd started to push against Parliament House and several signal torches were thrown at the building.
Police in riot gear reacted by firing gas canisters at the crowd, which soon dispersed into the surrounding streets.
Smaller groups returned to the square and started throwing more torches, prompting the police to deploy a water cannon. Stones were also thrown at police.
The protest was organised by several groups opposing vaccination, masks and the Covid pass mandate that entered into force today.
Pred parlamentom je vroče! pic.twitter.com/G94xgXWoQA— Radio Študent (@radiostudent) September 15, 2021
Razbita flaša. pic.twitter.com/UywetezwpF— Radio Študent (@radiostudent) September 15, 2021
The groups are active mostly on Facebook and their spokespersons today decried the latest restrictions and called on the government and MPs to resign.
Ljubljana police estimate the crowd numbered 8,000 people and described the rally as "a mass violation of public law and order".
It said officers were pelleted with torches, granite pavers and other objects.
The police was still in the city around 10pm to disperse individual groups that scattered around the centre.
Police Commissioner Anton Olaj called for tolerance and said on Twitter that violence at protests was "inadmissible".
Interior Minister Aleš Hojs pointed the finger at leftist parties, saying their "offshoots" had organised the rally.
He said on Twitter that this was how "left fascism was implemented in practice".
STA, 15 September 2021 - Delegates of the coalition Modern Centre Party (Stranka modernega centra – SMC) will meet in Celje on Thursday for a congress at which party president Zdravko Počivalšek will seek support for a merger with the non-parliamentary GAS party and a tie-up with several other parties and lists for a joint list at the next general election.
Počivalšek, who serves as economy minister in the government of Janez Janša, will look to be given the mandate to merge the SMC with the Economically Active Party (Gospodarsko aktivna stranka – GAS), a pro-business party headed by National Council President Alojz Kovšca.
The plan is to create a liberal, business-oriented party, with the talks on the merger having been conducted in recent months, and to hold a merger congress by the end of the year. The new party would also get a new name.
The abbreviation SMC originally stood for the Miro Cerar Party, after its founder and former prime and foreign minister, with the name being changed later to the Modern Centre Party, keeping the same abbreviation.
According to the smallest party in the ruling coalition with five MPs, the new name is expected to shift the focus on the party being a political partner of the business sector.
At the congress, Počivalšek will seek a mandate to connect with some local parties and lists ahead of the next general election, scheduled to take place next year.
According to unofficial information, talks are being held, among others, with the list of Celje Mayor Bojan Šrot, several local parties, and the Greens of Slovenia, which is headed by former MP Andrej Čuš, now a state secretary of Počivalšek's.
The SMC is reportedly also open for talks to join Revive Slovenia, a project which features several parties, lists and individuals, including the People's Party (SLS). These talks are expected to be held at a later date.
All talks on cooperation and association are being held so that the diverse parties and lists create a joint slate for the next election.
It is expected, though, that the SMC as a parliamentary party will be the driving force, while the remaining parties would help out with a developed local network and locally prominent individuals.
The SMC is also expected to adopt guidelines for its platform for the next election, which include political partnership with the business sector and development for all regions.
What is probably a key congress and key election for the party comes after the SMC joined the Janez Janša government last spring after being part of the centre-left coalition led by Marjan Šarec, formed after the 2018 elections.
The party faced criticism for joining the coalition with the Democrats (SDS) after Šarec resigned, including internally, with as many as five MPs or half of the original number of SMC deputies in the National Assembly leaving the deputy group.
In the last year and a half, Počivalšek has faced allegations as economy minister of misconduct in the purchase of medical equipment in the early stages of the Covid-19 epidemic.
"After Šarec quit at the most difficult moment for our country, the SMC made a responsible move and was a motor of creation of the new government, which has tackled the health and economic crisis," Počivalšek told the STA ahead of the congress.
"Because it is precisely the SMC that holds the key to the current government, we have been the main target of attacks on it," he said, adding that "we have bled in this fight, but survived eventually."
Počivalšek said the SMC would be strengthened by new partners in allies so that it could succeed in the election campaign next year.
The SMC is currently barely registered in public opinion polls and ranks well below the threshold to enter the National Assembly.
The congress comes ahead of the imminent debates in parliament on the opposition-sponsored motions to oust two ministers from the SMC quota - Education Minister Simona Kustec and Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič.
STA, 14 September 2021 - A joint session of two parliamentary working bodies, called by the centre-left opposition to discuss the status of an association that has been linked to the Identitarian movement, was broken off yesterday after one of the ministers invited walked out, while another excused himself from attending the meeting.
The joint session by the Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities and the Culture Committee was to discuss the status of the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values, whose erstwhile leader Urban Purgar recently resigned in the wake of controversy after he posted a "Hitler is #hero" tweet on 1 August.
Urban Purgar and his tweet. Photos: YouTube, Twitter
The opposition Social Democrats (SD), Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Left, Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the non-affiliated MPs (NeP) wanted for the Culture Ministry to annul the decision whereby it awarded the association the status of an association in the public interest, which was one of the conclusions proposed for the session to adopt.
SD MP Meira Hot said it was "completely unacceptable" for the association to enjoy such a status considering that it "incites hatred, offends people and even threatens liquidations".
"How can glorifying one of the biggest Nazi leaders be for the general benefit of our society and public interest," the MP wondered, adding that such actions ran in contravention of the Slovenian law.
Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti said a session on neo-Nazism was welcome, and it would be good for discussion to be held in parliament once about "hate speech and totalitarian criminal systems such as Communism, Fascism and Nazism".
He said it was up to the authorities in charge to detect if neo-Nazism was present in Slovenia, while "it is required to approach in equal measure and vigilantly to detecting other totalitarian systems".
The minister soon left the session without stating his position on the proposed conclusions. Since Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič had already excused himself from attendance beforehand, the session was broken off after about an hour.
The centre-left opposition said they would keep resuming and interrupting the session until they have been given answers to their concrete questions.
The parties had told reporters ahead of the session they would insist on the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values being stripped of the status of an association in the public interest.
"Ideas of Nazism and Fascism are being stringently prosecuted throughout Europe, while the Janez Janša government encourages such ideas and gives them value," said Violeta Tomić, the head of the Culture Committee and MP for the Left.
STA, 13 September 2021 - Employees and users of services in nearly all sectors will have to comply with the vaccinated-recovered-tested rule from Wednesday, a decision that government officials say is designed to offer the best possible protection while keeping the economy and society open.
"The epidemic is a dynamic process that requires a lot of adaptation from everyone. I realise these changes are not pleasant for anybody, but unfortunately we have run out of other options," Health Ministry State Secretary Franc Vindišar told the press on Monday.
Under the new regulation adopted by the government on Saturday, all workers and even the self-employed will have to be vaccinated, have proof of recovery no more than 180 days old, or test at least once a week, whereby PCR tests, rapid tests and self-testing are allowed.
For employees, the cost of testing will be covered by employers, who are allowed to sanction those who do not comply in accordance with regulations governing safety at work or employment relationships.
The wide-reaching provision, which takes effect on Wednesday, has been met with resistance by business owners, who say it is unfair that employers should shoulder the cost.
"Employers do not consent to paying for testing, we think the cost should be borne by individuals. Everyone has the chance to get vaccinated, but if they have concern about that, they should pay for the testing themselves," Branko Meh, the president of the OZS chamber of small business, told the STA today.
Similar points were also raised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and the Chamber of Commerce (TZS).
The requirement applies to all users of services as well, only they will have to pay tests out of their pocket. Users of health services will have to show a Covid pass too, but Vindišar stressed that this does not apply to emergency services.
For service users, the weekly self-tests for job purposes will not suffice, so they will have to get a testing certificate from a licenced providers, according to Economy Ministry State Secretary Simon Zajc.
There are a handful of exemptions, including for children up to 12, persons who bring children up to grade three to school, those accompanying children up to 15 to the doctor's, and students on public transportation.
The only shops in which a Covid pass is not needed are grocery stores and chemist's, unless they are located in shopping malls, in which case the rule applies to them as well. Compliance will be checked by the businesses individual.
The Social Chamber of Slovenia urged the government to exempt from the rule persons who need care at home, or else at least 30% of them will end up without it. It argues that staff visiting these persons has no authority to check compliance as they enter a private rather rather a public space.
Business owners have long campaigned against having to check their customers' Covid passes, arguing that they have neither the staff nor the authority to do so.
And with the Covid pass mandate expanded to cover virtually all services, mall operators now complain that the new rules are discriminatory.
Toni Pugelj, the director of mall operator SES Slovenija, said the new rules were unacceptable. Business owners will organise and hire additional staff if necessary, but it would make more sense if the PCT rule was universal, which would cause less confusion.
"Or perhaps the government should institute a radical measure such as vaccination," he told the STA.
Zajc said the Covid pass checking should not be a problem: if consumers do not show a Covid pass, businesses may not serve them.
"This is the precondition to keeping the economy open. With a bit of effort this can be controlled. Our neighbours have proved that this is possible and we are no worse than them," he said.
Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik held a meeting with representatives of various inspection services today and told them that inspectors should focus on prevention and issuing warnings rather than fines.
"That way, there will be less non-compliance and it will be easier for everyone to accept and comply with the regulation," he was quoted as saying in a press release by the ministry.
Stern criticism of what they see as "rapidly changing government regulations to contain the spread of the coronavirus" was made by the centre-left opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB).
The LMŠ said such "measures are unrealistic and full of unclarities" and the SAB said the government was not aware of the damage it had caused.
STA, 11 September 2021 - Nearly all employees and users of services will have to comply with the vaccinated-recovered-tested rule, known in Slovenia by its PCT acronym, under a new regulation which the government adopted on Saturday and which becomes effective on 15 September.
The new rules determine that all workers will have to be vaccinated, have proof of recovery no more than 180 days old, or test at least once a week, whereby PCR tests, rapid tests and self-testing are allowed.
The cost of testing will be covered by the state. Employers are allowed to sanction those who do not comply in accordance with regulations governing safety at work or employment relationships.
The requirement applies to all users of services as well, only they will have to pay for testing out of their pocket.
There are a handful of exemptions, including for children up to 12, persons who bring children up to grade three to school, those accompanying children up to 15 to the doctor's, and students on public transportation.
The only industries in which the requirement is waived are grocery stores and pharmacies, unless they are located in shopping malls, in which case the rule applies to them as well.
Compliance will be checked by employers.
The mask mandate has been expanded as well.
Masks have long been mandatory in indoor public spaces and outdoor when it is impossible to have a distance of at least 1.5 metres. Now they are mandatory in cars if the riders come from multiple households.
Children up to age six are exempted everywhere as are persons with special needs who cannot wear masks.
In educational settings, masks are not mandatory for children up to grade five, during sports or music class, for kindergarten teachers, and university teachers when they speak from behind a glass panel.
Public speakers do not need to wear masks if a distance of up to 1.5 metres can be secured, and performers at cultural events do not need them either.
For indoor hospitality, masks are not required as long as patrons are seated.
With the vaccination rate persistently low albeit rising in the recent days, Slovenia has been relying on the PCT rules to stem the surge in infections while keeping businesses open.
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 10 September 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 10 September 2021 - The government's decision to give up on efforts to systemically stem the spread of the epidemic and instead shift the responsibility for this onto individuals and let the virus run its course is infantile and constitutes a dereliction of duty, says the weekly Mladina in its latest editorial.
"The authorities' decision to call it a day is a decision that will lead to excess deaths and excess cases of long Covid. But this is not something that should be accepted. No authority has the right to say: We have given you the vaccine, you refused to get vaccinated, so we give up."
If you are in a position of authority, you cannot fail to do your duty because you are offended, you must act to the benefit of the people, including those who do not heed your warnings.
The weekly wonders why those who have been vaccinated, those who must not get a jab out of health reasons or have compromised immune systems, and children are now being punished by a lack of restrictions.
Of course, there are some individuals who are doing their best, including the health minister, but this is not enough, says the editorial You Know That They Left Us to the Virus, Right?.
"To give up when one has the power to act means dereliction of duty. Amid a lack of a serious policy on the fight against the epidemic Slovenia has become some kind of a virus minefield. In only three weeks it has climbed to the top of the EU ranking according to the number of infections."
The paper concludes on a more positive note, hopeful that the authorities will realise how irresponsible and dangerous this is and start taking measures, following in the footsteps of more developed European countries.
STA, 9 September 2021 - The weekly Demokracija says in its latest editorial entitled Event on the Island (of the Stupid) that the lack of media coverage of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) is shocking but not surprising.
Minimizing and trivialising an event whose attendance exceeded all expectations and showed that a number of leaders very much care about Europe, has been brought to extreme in the "hair-splitting search for criticism and pathological hatred towards Janez Janša".
An incident in which "a few leftist lunatics" unfolded a flag on the staircase under the church on Bled island to protest "against alleged Fascism in Slovenia" was presented almost as a highlight of the forum by mainstream media, the weekly says.
"Many important and ground-breaking things happened. But the mainstream media either deliberately overlooked them or highlighted the people who cried over the fact that Europe does not want to accept thousands of Afghans, who are leaving their wives and children at home and fleeing instead of fighting against the dictatorship of the Taliban."
As expected, also popular was the "'eternal' topic of the leftists" - the rule of law in Slovenia. Reports were also "spiced up" with the "alleged avalanche of European criticism" targeting Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, who reiterated in Brussels that the EU will not open humanitarian corridors and will not be granting asylums to all Afghans.
This was reaffirmed in a joint statement by interior ministers of EU countries, but the highlight of mainstream media reporting was debates of the leftists in the European Parliament, with MEP of the Swedish Left Party Malin Björk becoming a star for wearing a T-shirt with a sign ZLOvenijo ČUTIM.
"That was a disgrace without compare, a gesture unbecoming of an MEP, which in these parts leftists presented as a concern over Slovenia," reads the commentary.
All our posts in this series are here
What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.
FRIDAY, 3 September
BRDO PRI KRANJU - EU foreign ministers agreed on benchmarks to engage in cooperation with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Afghanistan must not serve as "a base for the export of terrorism to other countries", it will have to respect human rights, the rule of law and freedom of the media, and it will have to form an inclusive and representative government and provide free access to EU humanitarian aid.
BRDO PRI KRANJU - EU foreign ministers called for a pragmatic, realistic and coherent approach to China. They assessed that a pragmatic, realistic and coherent approach and unity and responsibility were needed and that there should be cooperation regarding Afghanistan and trade and economic issues.
LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin hosted his Latvian counterpart Artis Pabriks for a meeting which focused on the situation in the Western Balkans, the situation in the Baltic Sea region and cooperation between the two countries. Tonin said the EU must ensure that the Western Balkans does not drift away from the core EU values.
LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin received his Portuguese counterpart Joao Gomes Cravinho to talk about enhancing cooperation in defence and military matters and in other fields. Bilateral defence and military relations were assessed as exceptionally good.
LJUBLJANA - A group of coronavirus deniers and anti-vaccination protesters stormed the headquarters of the Slovenian public broadcaster, managing to get into the newsroom studio before the police intervened to remove them from premises and disband their protest. The action was widely condemned.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's joblessness continued to decrease in August as a total of 69,292 were registered as unemployed at the end of the month as the total fell below 70,000 for the first time since September in the pre-Covid year 2019. The total was down 21.4% year-on-year and 1.9% compared to July, the Employment Service said.
LJUBLJANA - The national advisory committee on immunisation advised Slovenian authorities introduce a third jab of anti-Covid vaccines for the elderly at care homes, for people older than 70, and for all residents with chronic conditions. All the others can also get a booster shot if they want.
SATURDAY, 4 September
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a new regulation under which the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule will be expanded to staff working in a number of activities and customers in some activities. The decision came amidst rising numbers of coronavirus infections and hospitals filling up quickly with Covid-19 patients.
LJUBLJANA - A group of five Afghans who worked with the EU delegation in the country had arrived in Slovenia along with their family members, the Foreign Ministry confirmed. In all, 19 Afghans have thus arrived in Slovenia after withdrawing from the country in the wake of the Taliban taking over.
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša hosted EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell for working dinner. The pair discussed the most topical challenges of the EU, with the focus on the situation in Afghanistan and the related migration challenges.
SZENTGOTTHARD, Hungary - The presidents of Slovenia and Hungary, Borut Pahor and Janos Ader, honoured the 30th anniversary of the the Association of Slovenians in Hungary at a ceremony with Pahor noting the important role of ethnic minorities as a link between nations and praising the association for its efforts.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia beat Malta 1:0 in the qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, a crucial win for the team before round six of qualifying. The sole goal of the broadly equal match came in the 45th minute, when Sandi Lovrić scored a penalty shot.
SUNDAY, 5 September
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won the Vuelta a Espana for the third year running after winning the final stage, a 33.8 km time trial. He became only the third rider in history to win three Vueltas back-to-back.
MONDAY, 6 September
LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court reversed a decision by the Administrative Court to stay the government regulation on STA public service while saying the state has a duty to provide financing to the STA under the STA law and a provision in the 7th coronavirus relief law regardless of whether the annual agreement between the STA and the Government Communication Office (UKOM) has been signed or not, and irrespective of the regulation.
HOČE - Magna Steyr's Slovenian plant will relaunch production at the start of 2022, announced Magna Steyr vice president Erwin Fandl and David Adam, director of the Slovenian Magna plant in Hoče.
LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Administrative Unit acted upon a proposal from Ljubljana police to ban rallies of the coronavirus deniers who stormed the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija's headquarters on Friday. RTV Slovenija filed criminal complaints against all those involved in the incident.
LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič is suspected of tax evasion at his previous job with prosecutors waiting since August 2020 for the court to decide on its motion to open a formal investigation, the news web portal 24ur reported. Dikaučič denied all allegations.
TUESDAY, 7 September
LJUBLJANA - Four centre-left opposition parties tabled motions of no confidence in Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič and Education Minister Simona Kustec. The main charge against Dikaučič is the failure to appoint Slovenia's delegated European prosecutors. Kustec has been accused of failings regarding getting schools ready for the new wave of the pandemic. Prime Minister Janez Janša dismissed the accusations as baseless.
LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Janez Poklukar rejected speculation about him founding his own party in the run-up to the general election due next year. Talking with the STA in an interview, he said he did not intend to stand in the election, but should a chance arise, he sees himself continuing as health minister after the election.
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Press Agency (STA) and Government Communication Office (UKOM) agreed to resume talks aimed at signing the annual agreement to fund the STA public service as the two directors were hosted by President Borut Pahor for a meeting at the Presidential Palace.
LJUBLJANA - The Finance Committee rejected amendments to the income tax act that would have reduced the tax burden on workers who commute across the border. The proposal, submitted by the Trade Union of Migrant Workers last December, involved a higher general tax allowance and reduced taxation in the top bracket.
LJUBLJANA - Stefan Bošković, a Montenegrin writer, won the Central European Initiative (CEI) Prize for up-and-coming authors as the Vilenica literary festival got under way. The 38-year-old has been honoured for his latest novel Minister.
LJUBLJANA - Mako Sajko, a 94-year-old screenwriter and director known mainly for his short documentaries, won the France Štiglic Award for lifetime achievement as the Directors' Guild of Slovenia presented its annual accolades.
LJUBLJANA - A statue of Austrian Field Marshal Josef Radetzky (1766-1858) was erected in Tivoli Park at the same spot in front of Tivoli Mansion from where it was removed in 1918. The decision sparked controversy among historians.
SPLIT - Slovenia lost against Croatia 0:3 in the sixth round of the group stage of the World Cup qualifiers, with almost no chances left for qualification now. Coach Matjaž Kek and captain Jan Oblak acknowledged Croatia's superiority after the match.
WEDNESDAY, 8 September
IDRIJA - Prime Minister Janez Janša said the government was determined not to shut down the economy or public life despite surging cases. Vaccination is the only way to avoid disruption to normal life, he said.
LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Janez Poklukar has told the STA that there would be no talk about restrictive measures, but about Slovenia opening up, if a 70% rate of vaccination against Covid-19 was achieved. He sees many reasons for a low vaccination rate, including the lack of vaccination culture and solidarity.
VIENNA, Austria - Nineteen international journalism and media freedom organisations released a joint statement urging the Slovenian government and the Government Communication Office "to immediately end the economic suffocation of the STA and take steps to ensure sustainable funding before its collapse".
LJUBLJANA - Aljoša Rehar was named the new editor-in-chief of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) effective in December. Rehar was backed by a 98.5% majority of newsroom staff in a secret ballot with a turnout of 80.7%.
IDRIJA - Industrial conglomerate Hidria broke ground for a EUR 40 million high-tech centre for the development and production of key components for electric motors for hybrid and electric vehicles. The new centre is slated to open in the middle of 2023.
THURSDAY, 9 September
LJUBLJANA - An inter-parliamentary conference on the EU's common foreign and security policy organised as part of the Slovenian EU presidency heard calls for a united and active approach by the bloc. Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign and security policy, said the Afghanistan crisis could be a catalyst that makes the bloc's foreign policy stronger.
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša attended the 30th Economic Forum in Karpacz. He participated in a panel on post-Covid recovery and received an award for person of the year 2020 in Central and Eastern Europe.
LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) analysed lobbying contacts between PM Janez Janša and his Democrats (SDS), and the largest suppliers of medical equipment over the past ten years, but found no irregularities. KPK checked the contacts after a report said in July Janša had been holidaying in Mauritius with representatives of the largest healthcare suppliers in Slovenia for years.
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Home Policy Committee confirmed in a 10:8 vote an amendment to the act on public law and order under which the police can issue fines of EUR 500-1,000 for indecent behaviour in the event they detect such behaviour of their own motion, without the injured party having to initiate proceedings. The original government proposal envisaged fines for insulting only senior officials, but was eventually tweaked.
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill changing the penal code to introduce prosecution of suspects who threaten the country's senior officials or their relatives ex officio, without the injured party initiating proceedings. The bill comes after the coalition said on several occasions the slogan "death to Janšism" from anti-government protests was a threat to PM Janez Janša.
LJUBLJANA/PORTOROŽ - Slovenia reported 1,016 new coronavirus infections for Wednesday in what was the second day in a row when the daily case count exceeded 1,000 while hospitalisations rose by 26 to 269 and the number of ICU cases by two to 63. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek meanwhile announced stricter Covid-19 rules for civil servants, saying those working directly with other people will need to be either Covid-19 reconvalescent or vaccinated.
LJUBLJANA - Another seven stumbling stones or Stolpersteine were laid in Ljubljana to honour the memory of the city's Jewish citizens who were torn from their homes during WWII and taken to concentration camps in Europe.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's goods exports rose by 17.3% year-on-year in July, as imports rose by 26%. The value of both exports and imports was also significantly higher than in July in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.
STA, 10 September 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has received the award for person of the year in Central and Eastern Europe at the Economic Forum in Karpacz, Poland. In his speech, he underlined the region's key role in the bloc and its Christian heritage.
"Central Europe is defined by Christianity. In this the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity as core ideas of European integration were born from Catholic teachings. What is more, Central Europeans have defended the European way of life through history," he was quoted as saying by his office.
Invoking the Polish Solidarity movement and Pope John Paul II, Janša said the culture shaped by Christianity had inspired freedom fighters despite the repression and totalitarianism that Central Europe suffered during the conflict between the superpowers.
He said solidarity was what bound members of a community and should be "the eternal goal or motto of European integration," but the EU had departed too much from the fundamental principles of European integration - consensus, mutual respect, subsidiarity and solidarity - in its political debates and actions by some of its institutions.
According to Janša, there is "no strong Europe without a strong Central Europe. In fact, there is no truly European union without the countries of Central Europe. Central Europe is becoming more and more what the name of our part of the continent suggests: central, both in terms of economics and values."
Janša also appeared at a panel on post-Covid recovery along with the Polish and Ukrainian prime ministers, Mateusz Morawiecki and Denys Shmyhal, at which he argued that the geopolitical situation had changed and that the EU had to learn tough lessons from the latest developments.
According to him, it is necessary to transform the European economy and strengthen its resilience, processes in which he sees Slovenia playing a major role as the currently presiding country.
STA, 8 September 2021 - Touring the western region with his cabinet on Wednesday, Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the latest surge in coronavirus infections by saying the government was determined not to shut down the economy or public life, repeating his call for vaccination.
Calling at the Idrija-based industrial company Hidria, Janša wished that all municipalities had such a high vaccination rates as Idrija or Vipava where more than half of the population has been fully vaccinated.
While the government is determined not to shut down public life, Janša said people were being ordered to quarantine where new infections appeared, classes were being closed and so might schools, facilities or services if necessary.
Vaccination is the only way to avoid disruption to normal life, he said, adding that it was in the shared interests of the government, opposition, media and each individual to reach such a vaccination rate that the Covid-19 outbreak would not jeopardise public life or the health system.
He noted that vaccination is free and everyone can choose between different vaccines. This was after he posted a message on his Twitter profile saying that some 100 classes had already been quarantined because many were not getting vaccinated out of selfishness.
The Covid-19 tracker site shows 103 classes in primary schools and 50 secondary classes were quarantined on Tuesday, while another 70 primary and 26 secondary classes had remote lessons.
"If it came to Slovenians being the only ones in Europe failing to seize the opportunity, we'll be the only ones whose health system will collapse. The logic is simple. There're no more dilemmas as there were at the start of the pandemic."
However, the prime minister concluded on a positive note: "We'll get over this crisis too as we proved last year we can."
Slovenia logged over 1,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest daily increase in infections since late April.