Politics

21 Jan 2019, 10:22 AM

STA, 21 January 2019 - Slovenian MEPs agree with the general assessment that this year's European elections will be decisive for the future of the EU as populist and Euro-sceptical parties are gaining on strength while Brexit is raising the awareness of the benefits of the EU membership, which large political groups in the European Parliament will try to emphasise.

Romana Tomc (SDS/EPP) said that "Europe is in a position when it is really important which political groups will achieve the best result - whether it will be the groups which advocate a better Europe and survival of the EU or European sceptics who promote the idea that the EU needs to be weakened further."

Tomc thus wants that the Democrats (SDS), the largest opposition party in the Slovenian parliament, make a candidate list as soon as possible and manage to convince the voters that they should go to the polls this May.

Lojze Peterle (NSi/EPP) too wishes that the discussion on candidates would turn into a debate on European topics as soon as possible. "Slovenia needs to agree on what vision of Europe it will promote," he believes.

Tanja Fajon (SD/S&D) thinks that the candidates, including her, would need to explain to the voters that this year's European elections are about "whether we want a social Europe, whether we want peace and stability and whether democracy will win over authoritarianism."

According to Fajon, the question is also "whether we will give in to fear or whether we want hope". "These will be the topics that the Social Democrats (SD) will be addressing in the campaign."

Analysts have noted that the turnout in the elections will depend on whether the candidates and political parties will be able to address in the campaign the topics that interest the voters.

According to an Eurobarometer survey, almost 60% of Slovenian voters want to hear answers, solutions and ideas from the field of the economy, followed by unemployment among the young and social protection of the EU citizens.

Milan Zver (SDS/EPP) is convinced that the turnout in Slovenia and the EU will be considerably higher this time also because all political parties dedicate more attention and money to the elections, while Euro-sceptical parties are also mobilising the voters.

Many pundits have warned nevertheless that other topics will also be important in the campaign, with the ALDE and Greens groups stressing that the issue of climate change should also be put on the agenda.

Igor Šoltes (Greens), who will go to the elections with his own list, thinks that the campaign would need discuss the protection of clean drinking water and food and the rise of hate speech and preservation of a cultured, civilised discourse.

Franc Bogovič (SLS/EPP) believes that concrete answers to concrete questions need to be found. Slovenia needs to answer the question of how to be a good building element of the EU, while being able to utilise funds and other instruments, he added.

Ivo Vajgl (DeSUS/Alde) added that Slovenia should already start thinking about the initiatives it will present as part of its presidency of the EU in the second half of 2021.

The Slovenian MEPs spoke to the Slovenian media as part of the latest session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

18 Jan 2019, 15:53 PM

Mladina: Post-election alliances must be clear before EU vote

STA, 18 January 2019 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its editorial on Friday that political groups in the European Parliament should make it clear before the May elections whether they will form an alliance with the European People's Party (EPP), considering that the group includes Hungarian right-wing radical Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Ahead of the elections, it is often heard that Europe is in serious danger of far-right populist parties getting so much power that they would influence the formation of the European Commission, Mladina editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says.

He is critical that these warnings are voiced by the very same people who already tolerate the likes of Orban and Slovenian Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša in their ranks. They are calling for a coalition against populist parties, many of which are already members of the EPP.

Is it even possible to take seriously conservative parties that criticise “orbanisation: and fascism on a declarative level but tolerate the problematic parties, Repovž wonders.

Related: Slovenian “word of the year” announced

"The argument used by conservative politicians dedicated to democratic and Christian values is simple: it allows them to somewhat control these parties... This is a terrifying and unconvincing argument that leads to the legitimisation of radical positions."

But the problem has wider implications. "Let us assume that populist right-wing parties outside the EPP reach more than 30% in the European Parliament in May. For the first time in history, all big political groups in the parliament will have to join forces and form a grand coalition."

But so far none of the large groups has demanded of the EPP to clean out its ranks. "Of course, this is hard. But this does not make it any less necessary," the paper says under the headline With Orban against other Orbans?

Demokracija: New think-tank not to be trusted

STA, 17 January 2019 – The right-wing weekly Demokracija expresses doubt in Thursday's commentary about the Cathedral of Freedom, a think-tank whose stated goal is to promote the establishment of a liberal party. The paper says the true intentions as well as its potential are questionable.

One of the initiators criticised the "rhetoric of patriotism and independence euphoria" on the right. This targeted primarily the Democrats (SDS), the implication being that it should be food for thought for the party's leader, the paper, co-owned by the SDS, says in Cathedral of Freedom and Seven Myths.

"I'm probably not the only one to interpret this as (yet another) appeal to Janez Janša to gradually withdraw so a generational change may take place," the paper's editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says.

"Something similar happened before last year's general election, when the noble right presented itself as an alternative to the allegedly radical and contaminated parties and individuals on the right... We know what happened at the election."

The commentator says that the proponents appear to realise that in order to change things they will have to form a liberal political party, but this looks like wishful thinking considering the fate of such initiatives in the past and the initiators' stated intention not to do the legwork required to actually establish a proper party.

The paper also expects the initiators to take a clear stance on several key issues, including how they understand freedom of speech, the coalition's attacks on opposition media, media legislation and multiculturalism.

"But more than anything, they will have to state what freedom means to them. Is it the absence of incarceration or of any kind of coercion? Is it the right to act, speak and think any way you want, without others, including those in power, imposing restrictions? The public will demand clear answers. Absent such answers this will be yet another dud."

All our posts in this series can be found here

18 Jan 2019, 12:50 PM

Today’s Dnevnik has a report by Aleš Gaube examining what a no deal Brexit could mean for Slovenia. The story notes that if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, as it’s currently set to do at midnight on March 29, then the status of Britons in Slovenia will need to covered by new legislation. The text continues on a comforting note, suggesting that not much will change for the around 720 UK nationals who currently live in the country, although it then claims they would no longer be able to buy real estate in the country (“Prav tako v naši državi ne bi več mogli kupovati nepremičnin.”). There would also be changes to how professional qualifications gained in the UK are recognised in Slovenia.

dnevnik hard brexit slovenia.JPG

However, readers should note that no details are given with regard to these changes in status, and no official sources are cited, and also that the author of the original story seems to occasionally confuse a hard Brexit (with a Withdrawal Agreement) with a no deal Brexit (without an agreement). We also got in touch with a Ljubljana-based real estate agent, who said "citizens from OECD members can buy freely in Slovenia", so perhaps UK nationals do not need to worry on this point.

For the around 5,000 Slovenes in the UK, Dnevnik says that these should continue to enjoy the same rights set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, even in the case of a no deal Brexit. For Slovenians intending to visit the UK in the future, visa free travel to the UK should still be possible.

As the title of the article indicates – “Koliko nas bo stal trdi brexit?” (“How much will hard Brexit cost us?”) – the main focus is the issue of EU funds, a matter of particular interest in this context, since the UK is the third largest contributor to such funds. In the case of a no deal Brexit, which will see the UK not pay €16.5 billion into the current EU budget (which runs until 2020), Slovenia is expected to contribute between €42 and 57 million more to fill the hole, while Denmark would pay an extra €360 million.

David Brozina, Director-General of the EU Affairs Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the newspaper that while the government is planning for all eventualities, detailed legislation will only be announced when the UK’s position, and the kind of Brexit it wants to pursue, is known. He is also quoted as saying "The Ministry of Labour is investigating the possibility that, in the event of a hard Brexit, an agreement that regulates the transfer of insurance rights and reimbursement of medical treatment costs between the countries, as was the case prior to Slovenia joining the EU”.

Finally, the paper notes that the UK Embassy in Ljubljana is not commenting as to any ongoing talks with the Slovenian government on citizen’s rights. The full story, in Sovene and behind a paywall, can be found here.

All our Brexit coverage can be found here

18 Jan 2019, 11:50 AM

STA, 17 January 2019 - President Borut Pahor and the leaders of parliamentary parties decided on Thursday to draft changes to the electoral law following a Constitutional Court decision before the parliament's summer recess. However, neither the idea to change electoral districts nor the idea to abolish them enjoys enough support.

Pahor met the party leaders to see how they feel about possible amendments to electoral legislation after the top court declared last December the legislative provisions determining the size of electoral districts for general elections unconstitutional.

Since the number of constituents differs greatly from one district to another, the votes of those who cast their ballots in smaller districts count more than those cast in larger districts.

Slovenia has ten electoral units, including two single-seat constituencies for the Italian and Hungarian minorities. Each of the remaining eight units is divided into eleven districts to elect 88 MPs.

The Constitutional Court ordered the National Assembly to amend the legislation within two years, but did not decree by what method.

Pahor stressed at today's meeting that the legislation should be changed before the next election, which would be called in the spring 2022 at the latest, so as to avoid doubt about them being in line with the Constitution.

The minimum change to make the legislation constitutional would entail changing the size of electoral districts, which would require the support of at least 46 MPs in the 90-member legislature.

But if voters are to have more say about who will be elected MP, the electoral districts should be abolished, and party lists and preferential votes introduced. This would, however, require a two-third majority in the National Assembly or at least 60 votes.

Currently neither of the two proposals has enough support.

Pahor said as he spoke to the press after the meeting that experts would be invited to take part in the drawing up of the changes. He is also to meet the prime minister and the government secretary general in the coming days to discuss how government services could assist in this process.

Experts and negotiators from each deputy group will hold regular meetings to draw up the changes and Pahor will act as a coordinator. A task force will be set up to look into the possibilities of changing electoral districts, the president said.

The views of the parties on the changes remain unchanged. The coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Modern Centre Party (SMC), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), and the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), Left and the National Party (SNS) favour abolishing electoral districts and introducing a preference vote at the level of the electoral units, but disagree over whether the preference vote should be absolute or relative.

The largest opposition faction, the Democrats (SDS), has been advocating a majoritarian system but its leader Janez Janša did not give any statements today. He said on Twitter that the SDS supported any change to the electoral system which would increase the influence of voters to MP's election and help decentralise the country.

Matej T. Vatovec of the Left said that merely changing electoral districts, which could not be geographically united, would be a waste of time. He urged parties not to delay the changes.

SNS head Zmago Jelinčič said that changing electoral districts would be difficult and Maša Kociper of the SAB said that merely changing the size of the districts would not increase voters' influence. She said that it was evident that the older, established parties did not want change.

The coalition SocDems and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) did not give any statements today and have so far been reserved about the changes or against abolishing electoral districts.

18 Jan 2019, 10:13 AM

STA, 17 January 2019 - Members of the Slovenian community in Italy will be protesting against a neo-fascist rally planned in the border town of Gorizia on Saturday. The Slovene Union Party (SSk) has called on its members and like-minded people to take part in an antifascist rally planned for the same day.

The antifascists say it is inappropriate for the Gorizia city authorities to receive the fascist rally participants, X Mas and Casa Pound, which is what happened at a similar rally last year.

Related: President Pahor and Speaker Židan express concern after neo-fascist rally in Trieste (video)

 "Gorizia must not accept such a decision and such behaviour because the fascist regime and terror between the two wars and during World War II caused great hardship," the SSk said in a press release on Thursday.

"The wounds caused by the fascist regime to the Gorizia locals can still be seen today and it is high time that they heal at last."

This year, Gorizia Mayor Rodolfo Ziberna decided against receiving the fascist rally participants after this move caused an outcry in 2018.

Klemen Milavčič, the new mayor of the nearby Nova Gorica, underlined in a press release today that "such provocations are dangerous and must not be underestimated".

He called on the neighbours of his town to act prudently, to the benefit of the whole area and with modern European values in mind.

Vice-president of the coalition Social Democrats (SD) Matjaž Nemec responded in a video on Twitter, saying that "it is our task to preserve European values: mutual respect, cooperation and building a new and modern European future".

The people of Gorizia and Nova Gorica have always fought for and built a future together, a future based on shared European values and are an inspiration for the entire Europe and the EU, said Nemec.

16 Jan 2019, 12:51 PM

STA, 16 January 2019 - Slovenia regrets that the UK parliament failed to confirm the Brexit divorce deal last night. Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said that the UK should rethink whether Brexit is really worth pursuing or whether this is a dead end and staying in the EU is the better solution.

A statement from the prime minister's office on Wednesday said that the divorce deal was a fair compromise, a balanced document, that allowed a regulated and controlled exit for the UK.

Slovenia will continue to support the approval of the deal in the EU, as the document is the best solution for the future and a necessary foundation on which to build relations after 2021.

Similar to the rest of the EU, Slovenia expects the UK government to present a plan on future steps as soon as possible. The statement also expresses hope that "the coming weeks and months will see enough political wisdom to avoid the worst outcome".

Slovenia's key wish is to preserve constructive and comprehensive cooperation even after Brexit, which must in no way infringe on the rights of citizens of Slovenia and other EU countries living in the UK. On the other hand, Slovenia will guarantee "an appropriate level of rights for UK citizens" living in the country.

Foreign Minister Miro Cerar also expressed regret over the vote. He tweeted last night that the EU had negotiated in good faith and with the wish to preserve constructive cooperation in the future.

Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee chair Matjaž Nemec commented on the situation for the press, saying that the process was "a good lesson for us" and that he hoped that "this will sober up the global political arena".

"When politicians become politicasters, when personal and party interests are put before those of the state and its citizens, there is populism that diverts attention from the real picture."

"All those who caused this in the UK have remained well hidden and no longer expose themselves, while regular people will start feeling immediately what it's like to be a third country citizen in relation to the EU," said Nemec.

He added it was hard to predict what would happen next. It is also hard to say whether the country will hold another referendum.

The House of Commons turned down the divorce deal with 432 votes against and 202 in favour last night. Subsequently, the opposition Labour Party requested a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Theresa May.

The motion will be put to a vote this evening and if May is ousted and a government coalition cannot be formed within a fortnight, the UK will face an early election.

However, this is not a very likely scenario, according to Jure Vidmar, a professor of public international law at the University of Maastricht.

While the divorce deal was voted down due to infighting in the Conservative party, "bringing down the deal is one thing and bringing down one's own party is a different matter altogether," he told the STA.

If she survives the vote, May has said she will present an alternative plan by Monday. But at least in the short term the EU will not be able to offer anything but some sort of a political declaration, said Vidmar.

These have already been offered and did not convince the sceptics. This could only be done by abolishing the Irish safeguard, which is impossible for the EU, he believes.

"Northern Ireland is the main issue of Brexit and it is practically impossible to resolve. The reintroduction of border controls in Ireland would undermine the peace treaty," said Vidmar.

A no-deal Brexit or an extension of the deadline are the two possible scenarios. The extension could lead to a new deal under which the UK would remain a part of the single market and the customs union, he believes.

The other possibility is a new referendum in which voters would decide between May's divorce deal and remaining in the EU, said Vidmar. An early election is not very likely but cannot be excluded.

All our stories about Brexit can be found here

Chamber of Commerce worried about impact of no-deal Brexit on exports

STA, 15 January 2019- The Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) assessed ahead of today's Brexit deal vote in London that there is a 20% chance of a no-deal scenario and that this could reduce Slovenian exports by a fifth.

The GZS's analytics department estimates that Slovenian exports of goods to the UK rose by 11% to EUR 615m in 2018, while exported services were up 9% to EUR 210m. In case of a no-deal Brexit, goods exports could fall by up to 20% in a year, although they would later probably rise again.

A similar reduction would also be experienced by Slovenian exports to other EU member states with close trade ties to the UK, the chamber wrote in a press release.

A no-deal Brexit would present a strong blow in particular to the movement of people, goods, services and capital, with cooperation already being affected by the current uncertainty.

A direct impact has been felt above all by multinationals and regional companies with a two-way value chain and in particular involving Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. Indirectly affected are the supplier companies, meaning also a number of Slovenian companies.

A no-deal Brexit would also mean the reintroduction of border checks and thereby a fourfold increase in the time needed to cross the border. Slovenian hauliers conduct EUR 40m worth of transport for British clients a year, the GZS said, while also highlighting additional costs related to the diverging of standards for products and services.

UK Ambassador Sophie Honey July 2018.jpg

HMA Honey in July 2018. Photo: JL Flanner

UK Ambassador: Britain Remains Open for Business, Despite Brexit

STA, 16 January 2019 - British Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey assured Slovenian businesses on Wednesday that they would receive ample support, regardless of how the UK leaves the EU, with or without a divorce deal.

The UK will provide businesses the maximum scope of information and clarity so they can prepare for future relations, she told an event on the future of economic cooperation post-Brexit a day after the British Parliament voted against Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.

She said the British government has prepared advice for British businesses while the Slovenian authorities were doing everything they can to prepare companies for any changes.

The ambassador also stressed that the UK would remain an ideal destination for Slovenian exports and start-ups.

All our stories about Brexit can be found here

 

14 Jan 2019, 12:50 PM

With less than two months to go before Article 50 expires and the UK leaves the EU, which is currently set to happen at midnight on March 29, with or without a deal, the post-Brexit status of British nationals in Slovenia remains unclear. In recent weeks the governments of France, Spain, the Netherlands and others have all offered to guarantee the rights of British nationals, if the same safeguards are applied by the UK government to their citizens in Britain. As yet, however, no such announcement has been made by the Slovenian government.

Related: How to get dual nationality in Slovenia

We got in touch with the British Embassy on Friday, January 11, to ask if there were any ongoing discussions on this issue. The office replied later that day, but the response offered little comfort to those, like your correspondent, who are British nationals. We were directed to the call on Twitter by Robin Walker MP, Minister at the Department for Exiting the EU, for member states to set out their plans for reciprocal arrangements on Britons in the EU, and EU nationals in Britain, as seen below.

We were also told “Discussions are ongoing with the MZZ (Ministrstvo za zunanje zadeve – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) regarding citizen's rights in the instance of a no deal scenario. We will continue to provide updates on this through our media channels [such as Facebook] but remain positive about UK resident's rights in Slovenia should there be a no deal.”

We were also advised to follow all the latest information on citizens’ rights is in the Embassy’s guide to living in Slovenia (here).

In short, with 74 days left until Brexit, and Theresa May’s deal likely to be rejected by Parliament later this week, British nationals in Slovenia can only wait and see what happens next, relying on the good will, and attention, of the Slovenian government to act soon and protect their current status, and the British Embassy’s continued optimism that it’ll all be OK in the end.

All our posts tagged “Brexit” can be found here

14 Jan 2019, 11:45 AM

STA, 14 January 2018 - The party of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has gained ground in the latest poll run by the newspaper Delo to reduce the gap separating it from the top ranking opposition Democrats (SDS) to 2.3 percentage points.

 

Having dominated the rankings for more than half a year, the SDS lost almost two percentage points from the month before to 16.2%, whereas the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) jumped more than 5 points to 13.9%.

This means that the margin between the SDS, the plurality winner of the June general election, and the runner-up LMŠ was reduced more than four-fold from ten points in December.

The Left, the government's partner in the opposition, trails at 6.8%, which is roughly level with the month before, but the party has advanced from fourth to third.

This was as the Social Democrats (SD) slipped back from second to fourth spot after losing four points to 6.5%.

Our guides to most of Slovenia’s many political parties can be found here

Delo notes that this is the first time since the June election that the poll has showed major differences in rankings between the five coalition parties.

The Modern Centre Party (SMC) of Foreign Minister Miro Cerar has lost over one percentage point to 3.7%.

The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) ranks fifth on 5.4%, 1.2 points up from the month before, followed by the National Party (SNS) on 4.1%, up 0.9 points.

Meanwhile, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) changed places so that the SAB now polled at 3.4% and DeSUS at 2%.

The non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) lost 2.5 points to 3%.

The proportion of undecided increased to more than a fifth (21.2%) with a further 7.1% saying they would not vote for any of the parties and 2.6% not wishing to answer the question.

The voter approval rating for the government and parliament also improved to 3.09 and 2.81 on a scale of one to five, from 3.01 and 2.72, respectively, the month before.

President Borut Pahor continues to top the ranking of the most popular politicians ahead of PM Šarec and EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.

NSi leader Matej Tonin advanced to fourth while SD leader and parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan slipped a point to sixth. SAB leader Alenka Bratušek trails in 14th, Cerar in 15th and DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec in 20th.

Commenting on the increasing approval ratings for Šarec, the government and now also Šarec's list, Delo attributes them to low expectations for the minority government at the start of its term.

"Distribution of public funds which many feel in their pockets has made an impression. Higher are social benefits, minimum wages and per capita municipality income," Delo comments ion the front-page commentary.

"Almost 700,000 public employees have at least 4% more and many hope for more yet. White collars, who take the credit for the Cerar government ending its term early, are happy for the time being.

"However, the real challenges that will show what the government is made of are yet coming. The first ones will be the supplementary budget, healthcare, preparations for a pension reform and when we have to show how we are in fact prepared for the economy's cooling."

The poll was conducted by Mediana among 743 respondents between 3 and 10 January.

14 Jan 2019, 10:20 AM

STA, 12 January 2019 - After three months in office, Culture Minister Dejan Prešiček has told the STA that the Slovenian culture sector is successful and comparable with the production on the global scale despite the incomparable infrastructural and financial circumstances in which it functions. He would not change the culture financing model drastically.

"We are successful in all artistic fields. Music production is top-notch, theatre as well. We have individuals who have achieved world renown. This is positive and I'm very happy about the fact that there is a creative drive," the minister said in an interview.

The other thing is that those who work in their own country sometimes work in very difficult conditions compared with global production, which is also better financed, but nevertheless Slovenian artists keep making top achievements, he added.

As a minister, he sees his role in improving these conditions, but he is not inclined to making "major shake-ups" of the culture financing model.

"The system as it is should not be drastically changed. My opinion is that it needs to be only evaluated, and we should find out what is good and what does not function, and what is perhaps somewhat obsolete," Prešiček said in comments that are likely to sit uneasy with freelance artists, who have complained for years about inadequate financing.

He believes, however, that Slovenia lacks a clear strategy of development of culture. "In order for institutions to function well, we need standards, including for costs," he said, adding that talks about that were already under way.

Asked about the criteria for awarding the formal status of an artist, Prešiček said that artists provided society with such an added value that one could not say that there were too many of them.

"Artists think, they are critical of society and contribute to its development. Their social status and how much money the state earmarks for them is another question," he said, adding that the state could perhaps be stricter in awarding statuses, which sometimes come with paid social contributions.

Regarding the situation in culture, he said that with the technological and social progress, arts were being changed significantly as well. "For some arts adjusting to the new social circumstances is easier, for others it is harder."

The minister is convinced that the existing model of financing of culture could be an example to many countries with larger financial potential considering the importance of culture in society and the results it scores.

But Prešiček thinks that it is "so fragile" that hasted and major changes would bring more harm that benefits.

According to him, there is no shortage of ideas and tasks for the four-year term, which include the status of members of non-governmental organisations and self-employed culture workers, with which the state "has failed to deal with at the systemic level".

The idea is to regulate this with a special law, he said, adding that the bill prepared by the opposition Left could serve as its first draft.

Talks with Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj and within his party, the Social Democrats (SD), suggest that there will be some more money for culture in the emerging supplementary budget for 2019, he said.

"Culture should not be perceived as a cost, but as an investment and added value both in the economy and tourism. It is a global trend and we are also adopting it. You cannot offer only mountains and water to a tourist, but also content and a story."

When it comes to legislation, Prešiček announced for February a public debate on changes to the media act, which he said would be adapted to the current technological environment.

"The planned change which will probably be most controversial politically will be prohibition of instigation of inequality and intolerance and measures when something like this happens. Sanctioning violations is something completely normal in all democratic societies," he said.

11 Jan 2019, 16:20 PM

Mladina: Low Salaries in Slovenia are Because of Company Policies, Not Taxes

STA, 11 January 2019 - The weekly Mladina says that wealthy entrepreneurs are preparing the battle field ahead of a tax reform planned by the government. They are narrating a story of an engineer who is paid poorly due to high taxes and decides to leave the country to work abroad where taxes are lower. This, as it turns out, is nothing but a myth, Mladina says.

Under the headline “Abused Engineers”, the latest editorial of the left-leaning magazine says that engineers do make less in Slovenia than they would, for example, in Austria.

But this is not because of higher taxes but because company owners, Mladina specifically points to the owner of a successful exhaust maker Igor Akrapovič, do not give them higher pay.

Moreover, engineers are actually paid far less than what the entrepreneurs claim, the paper says, suggesting the bosses are actually talking about themselves.

In fact, income taxes for what engineers actually make in Slovenia are lower than in Austria. Only if they were paid as much as company owners claim they are, would the income tax be higher, a Mladina journalist has found.

He also busted the myth that engineers are leaving the country, providing numbers that only 70 engineers left Slovenia between 2012 and 2017. Most of them went to Croatia, which suggests that they were Croatian citizens studying in Slovenia who returned home after graduation.

"Will we allow yet another coup of demagogy? Will they abuse our empathy again?" the weekly wonders.

Reporter: President Pahor is an inclusive statesman

Note: this editorial is actually from last week

STA, 31 December - The right-leaning weekly Reporter commends President Borut Pahor in its latest commentary for his effort to be a voice of reason and a statesman who wants to build bridges rather than ostracise.

As he addressed an open day at the Presidential Palace to mark Independence and Unity Day, the president said he wanted more mutual respect in the coming year, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla notes in More Respect in 2019!

He adds that Pahor had asked at the national holiday more than 500 visitors to carry on his call for mutual respect, understanding and respect of differences.

The president's words are welcome and they again confirm that Pahor is or at least tries to be the president of all Slovenians more than any of other presidents before him.

"He is making an effort to be a voice of reason, a statesman who does not exclude, but connects."

According to Šurla, in the increasingly politically polarised world, full of ostracising and hatred, such a stance by the president is not always welcomed, unfortunately.

Pahor is being attacked more from the left than from the right, which is very telling. What the leftist ideological extremists have been bothered by most during Pahor's reign is his normal relationship with the political right, concludes the commentary.

All our posts in this series can be found here

09 Jan 2019, 19:34 PM

STA, 9 January 2019- The EU's future and challenges such as Brexit, migration and the upcoming Euro elections topped the agenda as Prime Minister Marjan Šarec received the visiting Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis on Wednesday.

According to the prime minister's office, the two officials called for a strong, unified and more effective EU, one that respects the values and principles underlying its foundation.

They agreed that migration was a problem common to all, so it should be addressed through a common, systematic and sustainable approach with the involvement of all member states.

Slovenia's position is that it is necessary to enhance cooperation with third countries, especially in Africa, in a bid to tackle the root causes of mass migration, and to protect the EU's external borders.

Šarec and Anastasiadis agreed that the Brexit agreement with the UK was the best possible, but they expressed the concern that the UK may leave without a deal.

The pair also expressed concern about growing populism in Europe, agreeing that the developments made the elections to the European Parliament in May the more important.

They also touched on the situation in the Western Balkans with Slovenia's position being that the prospect of EU membership for the region was an important motive for peace and stability in this part of Europe.

Anastasiadis also met parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan. Their meeting also revolved around the future of the EU and the upcoming elections. The pair also touched on the rise of right-wing populist movements in the bloc, the National Assembly said in a press release.

Over lunch, the speaker and the president also talked about the countries' healthcare systems and the importance of improving healthcare, and touched on the Middle East.

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