14 Oct 2020, 19:12 PM

STA, 14 October - Slovenia's reproduction number, showing how many people one infected person will pass the virus on to, has climbed to 1.93, while the epidemic has been spreading with the doubling time of 7.4 days, the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) said on Wednesday.

If the number of positive tests for Wednesday, which will be in tomorrow, is lower than 665, the reproduction number will drop somewhat and the doubling time will slightly increase, and if it is higher then the former will increase and the latter decrease.

The IJS has also assessed that the key defence wall preventing the further spreading of the virus, the epidemiological service, is under enormous pressure and is starting to show cracks, which is reflected in the rapid increasing of the reproduction number and the shortening of the doubling time.

The criteria for declaring an epidemic and introducing new measures is having the incidence rate of more than 140, that is infected persons per 100,000 people in 14 days, more than 250 people in hospitals, of whom more than 50 are in intensive care.

The milestone for the incidence rate was exceeded on Friday, while the number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients is expected to top 250 on Saturday and a day later at least 50 people are expected to need intensive care.

If the reproduction number stays the same, the number of daily positive tests will range from 100 to 900 in the future. Currently, the country records 499 new cases a day on average, says on the IJS web site.

If the reproduction number reaches 2, there will be some 600 Covid-19 patients in hospitals at the end of next week, including 100 in intensive care. If these trends continued, there would be 400 patients needing intensive care by 11 November.

A reproduction number of 2.5 would mean 250 people in intensive care units at the beginning of November and soon after that their number would exceed 600, the IJS forecasts.

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14 Oct 2020, 14:33 PM

STA, 14 October 2020 - There are shared values between Slovenia and the UK representing the foundations for efforts to strengthen bilateral ties and tackle global issues together, including climate change and the Covid-19 crisis, the UK's new ambassador to Slovenia Tiffany Sadler has told the STA in an interview. 

Succeeding Sophie Honey, who served as ambassador from March 2015, Sadler arrived in Slovenia roughly a week ago and presented her credentials to President Borut Pahor last Thursday.

She has spent a year learning the Slovenian language and is looking forward to finally putting her new skills to use.

"There are real shared values between Slovenia and Britain; I find that people think in the same way, that they care about the same things, be it the environment, democracy, freedom of the media, the rule of law," she summed up her first impressions.

As an economist she sees numerous ways to further boost business ties between the two countries, and she also believes that the UK and Slovenia could tackle global issues together, most notably climate change and Covid-19.

Next year will provide many opportunities for such cooperation since Slovenia will chair the EU Council in the second half of 2021, whereas the UK will chair the G7 and host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference.

"Despite these very uncertain times, I think next year will be a historic opportunity to work together to make progress and support each other on these global issues," she told the STA.

Sadler also sees opportunities and challenges for bilateral relations in Brexit. "A lot of the work that might previously have been done in Brussels will now be done bilaterally and here at the embassy. For me, this is an opportunity to build new dimensions to the relationship between our countries."

A deal between the UK and the EU seems increasingly unlikely by the end of the year when the transition period comes to an end.

"We want an agreement with the EU, but not at any cost," the ambassador said, highlighting that the deal was necessary, however it should be in line with what the British voted for in the referendum.

Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, the ambassador will strive to make life easier for entrepreneurs and companies as well as people in general, and to boost trade and investment.

Sadler considers Slovenia attractive to British businesses including because of its geographical location and educated workforce.

There are strong political, business and cultural ties between Slovenia and the UK, she said, adding that she had been in contact with the new Slovenian ambassador to the UK Simona Leskovar and the pair had agreed to work on future visits when possible.

Sadler also believes that the UK will remain an attractive destination for Slovenian students after Brexit. For those already studying in the UK, the conditions will remain the same, for others there will be certain changes.

The embassy will run an online campaign with the British Council this month to present UK universities and the new conditions to future students.

She is also optimistic when it comes to cultural cooperation despite Covid-19, noting artists' ingenuity and the support of the British Council.

Sadler sees similarities and differences regarding anti-corona measures in both countries. "I think all governments are looking at each other and learning," she said, adding that face masks are more fun in Slovenia. "Perhaps this reflects the Slovenian artistic feeling."

Cooperation between Slovenia and the UK in medical research is also key. It was already strong before the pandemic, Sadler said. According to the British embassy, 40% of Slovenian publications in scientific journals have been co-authored with Brits.

Pointing to the silver linings of Covid-19, she hopes that the crisis has stressed the importance of science and the fight against climate change. "Hopefully, a lot of investment will go green."

14 Oct 2020, 12:11 PM

STA, 14 October 2020 - A total of 707 new Sars-CoV-2 cases were confirmed in Slovenia on Tuesday, almost a doubling of Monday's figure and a new record by far, which comes on 4,902 tests conducted, a new high as well as the positivity rate hit a record 14.4%, government data show.

"Today's data show the situation is getting increasingly serious (...) The situation calls for action, measures taken so far have not done enough to prevent the spread of the virus," government spokesman Jelko Kacin told the Covid-19 briefing as the government is meeting in the afternoon to adopt new restrictions.

According to him, Slovenia's incidence rate, a key EU-wide indicator that shows the number of infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days, has increased to 202.75 from 178.91 the previous day.

Covid-19 claimed two more lives, increasing Slovenia's death toll related to the disease to 175.

This was as the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals increased by 30 to 210 despite 17 being discharged. As many as 35 patients, four more than the day before, now require intensive treatment.

Data from tracker site Covid-19.sledilnik.org shows that Slovenia has currently 4,248 active infections out of a total of 9,938 coronavirus cases confirmed so far.

Kacin said the outbreak was spreading at care homes with several aged-care facilities across the country reporting new infections.

Data from the tracker site indicate that a total of 15 new infections were recorded among care home residents and another 4 among staff, as well as 45 new infections among healthcare staff.

Matjaž Jereb, head of the intensive care unit at the Department of Infectious Diseases at the UKC Ljubljana hospital, said the estimate was that one out of every 150 Slovenians was infected.

He warned that hospitals were running out of intensive care beds, and in particular qualified staff to care for the critically ill.

"Ten percent of Covid-19 require hospitalisation and 20% of those intensive care," he said, projecting that out of 700 plus cases confirmed yesterday 70 will need hospital treatment and 15 of them intensive care in ten days.

He described intensive care units as a "bottleneck", considering those patients require intensive treatment for two weeks and longer.

"We have 16 critically ill at our [Covid-19] unit in Ljubljana who require mechanical support and ventilators (...) no one is immune, we have a 42-year-old patient without serious underlying conditions," said Jereb.

Asked about potential measures, including regional lockdowns, Kacin said lockdowns would depend on the region's incidence. "Seven regions are now red and three are still yellow," he said as an indication of what the the government may be expected to decide.

The worst affected region at the moment is now Gorenjska in the north-west with 266 infections per 100,000 residents over the past fortnight.

Six more are above the 140 limit, one of the threshold factors between phase orange and red, which triggers the declaration of epidemic and harshest restrictions.

Marija Magajna, acting director of the Healthcare Inspectorate, said that a decree has been drawn up to suspend some of the health services, announcing that preventive activities would be suspended first, but with a series of exceptions such as those concerning children and youth and cancer screening programmes.

Suspension or delay of non-urgent hospital services would depend on how many beds and other capacities need to be adapted to take Covid-19 patients.

Measures have also been drawn up to reduce the scope for coronavirus transmissions inside health institutions with Magajna indicating that the providers would need to monitor the health condition of their employees.

Covid-19 tracker site data show that 100 of the latest cases were confirmed in Ljubljana, which has now 698 active infections for a per capita infection rate of 0.237.

A further 38 cases were recorded in Kranj in the north-west, which has 173 active infections for an infection rate of 0.305%. But several smaller municipalities have much higher rates, the hardest-hit remaining Črna na Koroškem with 0.853%.

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13 Oct 2020, 19:03 PM

STA, 13 October 2020 - A meeting of top representatives of all three branches of power at the presidential palace on Tuesday saw Prime Minster Janez Janša defending the continuing criticism of the judiciary by arguing that respect first needed to be earned. President Borut Pahor urged respectful, responsible and dignified communication..

Pahor, who hosted the meeting dedicated to the "the principle of division of power - (self)limitation, mutual oversight and mutual cooperation", opened the discussion by saying division still meant cooperation was needed, this however also required proper form.

The meeting was prompted by Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič, who expressed the wish a suitable response is secured to inappropriate commentaries and attacks on the judiciary that have intensified recently.

Florjančič believes that the inappropriate attitude of individual representatives of the executive branch of power towards the judicial branch was increasingly also reflected in the public.

"Is it really not possible to find other means of communication than public labelling and denigrating of judges and thereby of the judicial branch?" Florjančič wondered.

Janša sees things differently, arguing that despite the division of powers "it is probably not forbidden to express criticism". He feels it would be hard to speak of democracy if this were not allowed.

The prime minister also finds it hard to listen about individuals feeling hurt because they are criticised, while judicial errors, as they were referred to by Florjanič, lead to people dying, having their family, career and life destroyed.

"And this is not happening in Yugoslavia but in independent democratic Slovenia, where we constantly pay lip service to human rights," said Janša, who himself spent time in jail in 2014 in a bribery case that was later sent back into retrial and eventually became statute barred.

"Respect needs to be earned," Janša added, calling on the judiciary to engage in critical self-reflection to see where the problems lie. If this reflection and reform is not possible in the judiciary - this is likely the case for politics - "those whose lives you are destroying will protest", Janša argued.

He would like the judiciary to open up, so everybody can monitor the trials and that the Slovakian judicial reform be studied. It is the judiciary that needs to initiate change, as this will help avoid political debates.

Parliament Speaker Igor Zorčič, who noted that it needed to be understood that the public demands answers each time a case fails to be resolved in court, agreed the judicial branch had to function in a way that made it accepted as legitimate by the public.

He however added that it was questionable if intensive criticism by somebody from the executive branch can contribute to this in any way.

National Council president Alojz Kovšca agreed that doubts harboured by the public and politics regarding the judicially are perhaps being expressed in an inappropriate fashion, too directly, too harshly, but the right to doubt is also the basis of democracy.

Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič added that criticism in itself does not constitute interference in an independent branch of power, it is however important to discuss things in a constructive manner. This view is shared by State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa and Constitutional Court President Rajko Knez.

The meeting also touched on calls to end parliamentary appointments of judges, with Florjančič arguing it was hard to understand how parliament can reject judges that were picked on the basis of professional criteria by the Judicial Council.

While he does not see how it is possible to get quality appointments this way, Zorčič suggested it can hardly be expected of the legislative branch to just rubber-stamp what is adopted by the Judicial Council.

13 Oct 2020, 13:37 PM

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STA, 13 October 2020 - A total of 398 people tested positive for the new coronavirus on Monday, when 3,308 tests were performed, which means that the positivity rate remains high at 12%. Four persons died of Covid-19, government Covid-19 spokesperson Jelko Kacin said on Tuesday.

There are currently 180 people in hospital, up by eight from yesterday, of whom 32 need intensive care compared to 26 yesterday, according to according to data tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik.

The number of active cases in the country rose by 8.7% to 3,744, and the number of infections recorded in Slovenia so far now stands at 9,231.

The virus continues to spread in healthcare institutions and care homes. Several members of the staff in the Celje general hospital tested positive yesterday, the hospital confirmed for the STA.

Among those infected are 14 nurses and three doctors who worked at the infectious diseases unit, where Covid-19 patients are being treated. The hospital said this would strongly affect work at the hospital.

One patient who was treated at the unit caught the virus too and brought it to the Vojnik care home, according to the newspaper Večer. Two of her room mates were tested along with 17 staff who were in contact with her but the results of the tests are not in yet.

In the northern Koroška region, where the share of active cases is among the highest in the country, 14 new infections were confirmed on Monday, including at the Črneče unit of the Koroško care home, which has had no infections for a while.

Now seven residents and two members of the staff tested positive and two more staff members are quarantining.

The Slovenj Gradec unit of the care home reported of its first infection on Sunday. Currently, four residents are infected.

The situation in health institutions in the region is deteriorating and the Slovenj Gradec community centre suspended its dental services this week.

Koroška currently has 185 active cases, which is 0.262% of the population. The only region with a higher share is Gorenjska in the north-west with 0.266% of infected population, data provided by Covid-19 Sledilnik show.

The Public Administration Ministry also started publishing data on the functioning of the #OstaniZdrav contact tracing app today.

After receiving a green light from the information commissioner, the ministry started publishing the data on the number of TAN codes issued. The National Institute for Public Health issues the code to people infected with coronavirus, who enter it in the app.

In the last 14 days, 455 codes were issued, and 282 were entered in the app.

According to government Covid-19 spokesperson Jelko Kacin, more than 130,000 people have so far downloaded the app, which is 10% of all mobile phones users.

The Health Ministry meanwhile created a website that gives an overview of the number of Covid-19 patients in the country and beds available. This is to help the dispatching services and other institutions coordinate the patients.

Govt says situation calls for additional restrictive measures

STA, 13 October 2020 - Slovenia recorded more than 120 coronavirus infections per 100,000 resident in the last two weeks, and 180 Covid-19 patients are in hospitals, including more than 30 in intensive care, which means all the criteria for activating additional restrictive measures are fulfilled, government spokesperson Jelko Kacin announced on Tuesday.

The government will decide what measures from the last, third package of measures in the orange phase to take at Wednesday's session, he added.

These include lockdown of individual municipalities or regions, a general ban on visits to hospitals and other institutions, shutting down of bars and restaurants as well as gyms for non-professionals.

The government may also introduce a one-client rule for hairdressers and beauty salons, while events, religious ceremonies and weddings could be banned in certain municipalities or regions. All non-essential health and dental services could be suspended.

The government may opt for only some of these measures, according to Kacin.

The government guidelines for containing the second coronavirus wave are based on the parameters for the so-called orange and red phases, with respective measures being envisaged for each phase.

The parameters are the number of newly confirmed infections per 100,000 residents in the last 14 days, the number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients and the number of patients who require ventilation.

The cabinet will meet this afternoon to discuss the situation with the Health Ministry task forces and prepare for tomorrow's government session at which new measures are expected to be adopted.

A total of 397 people tested positive for the new coronavirus on Monday, when 3,308 tests were performed, and one Slovenian tested positive abroad, which means that the positivity rate remains high at 12%. There are currently 180 people in hospital, of whom 32 need intensive care.

Four persons infected with Covid-19 died, while 18 were discharged from hospital. In the last two weeks, Slovenia had 179 infections per 100,000 people, Kacin said.

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13 Oct 2020, 12:04 PM

STA, 12 October 2020 - Petra Grah Lazar has been appointed the acting head of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI; Nacionalnega preiskovalnega urada – NPU) third new leader of the specialised police unit for white-collar crime since May.

Grah Lazar was appointed by acting Police Commissioner Andrej Jurič, the police said on Monday, a week after her predecessor Uroš Lepoša stepped down citing personal reasons.

Lepoša resigned after less than three months on the job. Multiple media reports suggest he resigned because the NBI's work has become subjugated to politics.

The police last week rejected the notion that he had been the target of any sort of political pressure or attempts to influence his work.

Lepoša's brief term, which came after a similarly brief stint by Igor Lamberger, has been marked by several requests for the review of the NBI's work made by the Interior Ministry, in what some insiders claim constituted political interference.

The new acting head, Grah Lazar, was an NBI investigator between December 2010 and March 2014. She came to the NBI from brokerage firm Moja Delnica, where she worked as a stock broker, the police said on its website.

She holds a PhD in business and has most recently served as a financial consulting manager at Deloitte Svetovanje, before which she was corporate security head at the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC), the country's bad bank.

Several media have described her as the favourite of the ruling Democrats (SDS). Senior government officials, including Prime Minister Janez Janša, have spoken of the need to depoliticise the NBI.

However, the opposition parties slammed Grah Lazar's appointment today as a prime example of politicisation, or in the words of Maša Kociper of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) even as "one of the most brutal appointments in the country's history".

Kociper is convinced that people do not resign after two months for personal reasons but because of political pressure, which was echoed by Matej T. Vatovec of the Left. He said the replacements were part of the search for somebody who will be fully servile to Janša and Interior Minister Aleš Hojs.

The appointment is also seen as the latest development in efforts "to subjugate the state's subsystems via appointments at oversight, repressive and other bodies" by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), whose Brane Golubović would prefer to see the government focus on healthcare capacities and on building of trust for the new Covid-19 wave.

The sentiment was echoed by SocDems deputy group head Matjaž Han, who said the NBI was a key institution that needed to be completely independent of daily politics, "which is why it is definitely not good that three new people were appointed to its helm in such a short period".

Marjan Pojbič of Janša's Democrats (SDS) sees things differently, saying the appointment of Grah Lazar was needed for the NBI to "function properly and line with laws and competences".

The deputy group head of the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) France Jurša said he did not have enough information to say whether the move was legitimate, but he added that experience from past years showed "such things are always tied to politics".

12 Oct 2020, 14:34 PM

STA, 12 October 2020 - A total of 169 people tested positive for coronavirus as 1,404 tests were performed in Slovenia on Sunday, while two people died, government spokesman Jelko Kacin said on Monday. Despite the numbers being lower than in the previous days, the share of positive tests remains high, at 12%.

A total of 149 patients were in hospital, 26 requiring intensive care, on what was a Sunday with the biggest increase in daily cases since testing began in March.

This brings the total number of cases to 8,832, with as many as 3,444 being active infection as this moment. A total of 169 people have died.

Talking to the press, Mateja Logar of the Infectious Diseases Clinic, said that elderly with underlying illnesses are no longer the only Covid-19 patients in intensive care. Younger, fit and healthy people have also been admitted for intensive care treatment.

Kacin said that hospitals have managed to respond to the increase in those requiring hospitalisation, but the numbers are expected to go up in the coming days.

Logar said that UKC Ljubljana, the country's biggest hospital, is getting ready to set up an additional Covid-19 ward, most likely at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, which was already the case in the spring. Patients of the department of Infectious Diseases without Covid-19 have meanwhile already been moved off-site, to the Peter Držaj Hospital in the Šiška borough.

Data from tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org show that 30 of the latest infections were health staff and 36 were aged care home residents and three staff at those facilities.

One of the emerging hotspots is a care home for blind, visually impaired and aged residents in Škofja Loka, north-west of Ljubljana, where 18 residents have been infected.

The facility's director, Silva Košnjek, said they were running out of space to isolate everyone, and were working with the local authorities to find an appropriate space to move the infected outside the home to prevent further transmissions.

The first infection entered the home via a patient who got infected at Jesenice hospital in late September, but they were not forewarned by the hospital so the resident moved freely around the home.

The Jesenice hospital said it did not know of the infection because the woman was discharged after they detected the first infection with another patient.

Reports of new infections are coming from many other care homes across the country, including at the Predvor facility in the north-west, which has seven residents and two staff infected.

Care homes in Slovenj Gradec in the north and Celje in the north-east also reported their first infections.

On Sunday, infections were confirmed in 65 municipalities. Most of the cases, 34, were recorded in the capital Ljubljana, where 0.197% of the residents are actively infected.

Črna na Koroškem in the north remains the municipality with the highest per capita infection rate, at 1.097%, followed by nearby Mežica (0.674%), Šentjernej in the south-east (0.629%) and Prevalje in the north (0.573%).

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12 Oct 2020, 13:29 PM

STA, 12 October 2020 - The Slovenia translation platform TAIA, which makes use of deep learning methods, has received a EUR 1.2 million investment from Fil Rouge Capital, a European venture capital fund. The funds are to be used to boost TAIA's presence on foreign markets and a further development of the deep learning algorithms.

According to TAIA INT, the company behind the platform, this one of the biggest investments in tech companies in Slovenia this year.

"With the investment we will be able to spread faster on western European market, secure a footing in the US and continue developing technological solutions that enable faster and higher quality translation," Marko Hozjan of TAIA INT, which recorded a EUR 90,000 loss on EUR 296,000 in revenue in 2019, told the STA.

TAIA is marketed as a bridge between translation agencies and free web translators. Clients are able to obtain a quote for a translation job within seconds and then use one click to have the machine translation edited by a human translator.

Hozjan, TAIA INT co-founder and director, said that this interface method speeds up translation and makes it cheaper by up to 50%.

But there have also been critical voices in the translation community arguing that the method is underpinned by underpaid post-editing work by translators and amounts to dumping.

Since its launch in late 2018, TAIA has translated over 15 million words and has been used by over 1,800 users, including major companies like Red Bull, Hervis, 3M, Müller and Petrol.

The company currently has 16 employees and is planning to hire five more in the coming months, primarily developers and digital marketing experts.

Learn more about TAIA

12 Oct 2020, 12:26 PM

STA, 12 October 2020 - The Social Democrats (SD) have managed to hold down the mayoral office in the blue collar town of Velenje in Sunday's byelection, which was marked by low turnout and coronavirus precautions.

As yet unofficial results show that Deputy Mayor Peter Dermol won 64.3% of the vote to succeed Bojan Kontič, a fellow party member that he has stood in for since his death in August.

Darko Koželj, the candidate of the non-parliamentary Business Active Party who ran with the support of the Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi), Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS), won 23.55% of the vote and Benjamin Strozak of the non-parliamentary Good State party secured 12.15%.

Dermol, who will stay in office until the next regular local elections in 2022, welcomed the result, which he said showed the SD's recognisability in Velenje. "The voters have recognised my work so far."

Dermol campaigned on the promise that he would continue to work set out by his SD successors, who had led the municipality since independence, describing their vision as a dynamic city based on solidarity, equity and high quality of life.

Velenje, Slovenia's fifth largest city and seventh largest municipality with a population of over 33,650, is the hub of Slovenia's fossil industry, being home to a lignite mine that supplies the thermal power station in nearby Šoštanj.

However, Dermol said the restructuring of the region would be an exceptional opportunity for young and innovative people.

He described the electoral campaign as unusual, accusing the challengers of focusing on him rather than on the content of their campaigns.

Meanwhile, Koželj compared the race to an all but decided football match: "Being third, fourth league players, we played against the side of Barcelona, who has much more money, and an excellent manager. We also played on their turf and with their referees."

However, in announcing his renewed bid in the 2022 election, Koželj said "this was but the first half". Having won over many supporters, "I hope we can convince the spectators in the second half that we make a good team".

Referring to the low turnout, of just over 33%, Strozak said the vote was decided by the voters who stayed at home.

Both candidates have lodged complaints over free campaign poster space granted to Dermol arguing that the municipality authorities had disqualified them by failing to publish the terms to bid for the advertising space on time.

Velenje was not the only municipality to hold a byelection yesterday. Voters in Starše, a small municipality further to the north-east, elected Stanislav Greifoner their new mayor in the run-off election with 52% of the vote.

Both Greifoner and his challenger Nataša Petek ran as independents in a vote precipitated by the death of the incumbent Bojan Kirbiš in June.``

12 Oct 2020, 12:07 PM

STA, 10 October 2020 - The opposition Social Democrats (Socialni demokrati - SD) elected Tanja Fajon, an MEP and the party's interim head so far, its new leader at an online congress on Saturday. A total of 276 delegates of the party voted for Fajon, the first woman to take over the top post at the SD, whereas 107 were in favour of her rival MP Jani Prednik.

Fajon was elected for a full term at the helm of the party, that is until the party's next congress, which must take place half a year after the next general elections at the latest, according to the party's statute.

In her address after being elected the SD leader, Fajon said that she was proud to be the first woman to lead the party. She added that today's online congress had demonstrated that the party was not brought to a stop in the face of challenges, such as Covid-19, but was brought further together to make a change for the better within its own ranks and in Slovenia.

According to her, the time has come to decide whether Slovenia will take a path of the disintegration of all values or whether it will opt for progress in the next decade. She stressed the role of trust and personal responsibility of every individual for the state of mind in society and the party.

Fajon also urged the party to let go of any potential grudges and show a united front to citizens, who expect clear answers and realistic strategies.

Speaking to the press after the congress, she said that recent months were difficult, however the party showed determination to further close ranks.

In her address prior to voting, she said that the SD was the strongest link among Slovenian centre-left parties and set a target of the party winning the next parliamentary election.

When it comes to the party's programme, she deems it key to protect citizens' social security and public systems as well as steer Slovenia away from a group of "problematic countries", which is, she believes, a direction the country is taking at the moment at an increasingly faster pace.

The SD presented its key future projects at the congress, including building high-speed railway, coming up with an effective housing policy and boosting public services, particularly in healthcare, long-term care, research and development and investments in efforts for environmental conservation and a sustainable society.

Fajon was again critical of the government, reiterating allegations about its attacks on media, judiciary and the police, about political staffing and unacceptable repression, which was demonstrated at the most recent Friday anti-government protest, according to her.

The rally saw police officers removing from the site or detaining a number of protesters after Interior Minister Aleš Hojs announced stepped up IDing of protesters earlier in the week as the government adopted stricter public assembly measures to contain the coronavirus.

Prior to the result of the election congress, Fajon's challenger Prednik wondered why the SD was describing itself as a party to lead the government only to then back an idea of an alternative government spearheaded by a technocrat prime minister without having secured enough votes to bring down the current government.

11 Oct 2020, 19:25 PM

STA, 11 October 2020 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has condemned the defacing of a monument in the courtyard of the government of the Austrian state of Carinthia in Klagenfurt during Saturday's ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite.

Janša said on Twitter on Sunday that the defacing of the monument to Carinthian unity was detrimental to the Slovenian compatriots in Carinthia and Slovenia's reputation in the world.

Over the night, unknown perpetrators covered the monument with black and turquoise paint and wrote "Death to Fascism" in Slovenian.

Calling the act a primitive left-wing disgrace, the prime minister said it had been "indirectly enabled by the Slovenian prosecution, which in practice supports ideologically-coloured death threats."


Janša was referring to the slogans "Death to Janšism" carried at some of the earlier anti-government protests prompted by anti-coronavirus measures.



The Austrian authorities have launched investigation of the act of vandalism which has also been condemned by Austrian politicians, including Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser and Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen.

The latter attended the ceremony in the capital of the southern Austrian state together with Slovenian President Borut Pahor.

The presidents of all three umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia have also critical of the act.

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