11 Feb 2020, 09:16 AM

STA, 11 February 2020 - The opposition Democrats (SDS) are expected to conduct a fresh round of coalition talks with three parliamentary parties after the resignation of PM Marjan Šarec. The potential coalition partners, Modern Centre Party (SMC), New Slovenia (NSi) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), have not officially confirmed the talks.

The first round of talks was held last Friday and SDS head Janez Janša announced the second round for today in the invitation to that meeting.

DeSUS leader Aleksandra Pivec labelled the first meeting as "the SDS testing the ground to see if there was readiness to continue", noting content or staff had not been on the table yet.

So this is expected to be on the agenda today. It should therefore become clear in the coming days if the parties will be able to overcome their differences. For now, all parties are tight-lipped about the talks.

The three parties are still checking the sentiment among their members, with the situation being the most turbulent in the SMC.

Its vice president, Ksenija Klampfer, the outgoing labour minister, left the party yesterday in protest of the talks with the SDS. The party's former president and founder, Miro Cerar, has also ruled out being part of a Janša-led government.

SMC head Zdravko Počivalšek said it was perfectly understandable that opinions differ but he thinks issues should be discussed rather than "doors slammed".

He has been arguing that the way to an operative and strong government leads through dialogue not a policy of exclusions.

10 Feb 2020, 15:38 PM

Updated at 18:00

STA, 10 February 2020 - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has condemned a smear campaign in which the Italian neo-Fascist movement CasaPound put up banners describing World War II Partisans as assassins, issuing a protest following a recent attempt to deny the suffering of Slovenians at the hands of Fascists.

CasaPound put up banners reading Tito's partisans, villains and assassins (Partigiani Titini infami e assassini) across Italy on the eve of today's remembrance day dedicated to the victims of foibe, the Italian for karst chasms where the victims of post-WWII killings by Yugoslav Communists were thrown.

The banners, which carry the emblem of the Fascist movement, were also stuck to the facades of the Slovenian cultural home in Opicina, the France Prešeren Theatre in Bagnoli della Rosandra, both villages in the Trieste province populated by the Slovenian ethnic minority, the Trieste-based Slovenian newspaper Primorski Dnevnik reported.

Tatjana Rojc, the ethnic Slovenian senator in Rome, condemned the campaign as the latest attempt "to smear the Slovenian community, an addition to the worrying presence of CasaPound, which is raising its head through violent talk and by harming co-existence," she was quoted as saying by the Italian press agency Ansa.

"With today's smear campaign in Slovenian villages, the neo-Fascist organisation CasaPound has again demonstrated its intolerance of Slovenians and the suffering of the Slovenian nation under Fascism," the Slovenian Foreign Ministry commented.

Noting that the organisation carried out a similar campaign in December 2019, the ministry said that CasaPound deserved "condemnation by the democratic authorities of free Europe". The ministry urged the Italian authorities to respond and "take measures in accordance with their powers".

The ministry added that Slovenia respected the Italian remembrance day for the foibe victims. "We expect the same respect for Slovenian and other victims of the resistance against the occupying Fascism, in particular civilian victims who massively perished in Italian concentration camps."

The ministry said such mutual respect was not aided by panel debates organised under the sponsorship of the local authorities in Trieste, including one scornfully themed as "Slovenians' false self-pity", and another at which speakers claimed Slovenians burnt down themselves their National Home in Trieste in 1920.

"We cannot and will not allow the denying of the suffering by Slovenians and the distortion of history," the ministry said.

Last year the day marking the remembrance day for the foibe victims caused a major controversy between Slovenia and Italy after Antonio Tajani, serving as European Parliament president at the time, made what were interpreted as territorial claims in his address to a foibe victims remembrance ceremony. Tajani later apologised for his comments.

President Borut Pahor said in a press release today he had protested with Italian President Sergio Mattarella against the "unacceptable statements by senior representatives of Italy" made on last year's foibe remembrance day.

Pahor also said that Mattarella had agreed that the statements made last year had been inappropriate, and could create an impression of territorial claims.

He said he had called on his Italian counterpart to respect the historical truths. Pahor thinks an ideal opportunity "for our joint trip to the past and looking at the future" will be the upcoming ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the torching of the Trieste National Home.

The Council of Slovenian Organisations (SSO), the umbrella organisation of Slovenians in Italy, also strongly condemned CasaPound's smear campaign today, saying the "fascist act" was a "severe blow to the democratic values and freedoms on which we are building our future here".

The SSO moreover called on the Italian authorities to investigate the matter and punish the perpetrators.

The Social Democratic Party (SD) joined the call for action, saying CasaPound was trying to rehabilitate fascism, an "ideology that took the lives of millions around the world".

The Left also spoke of rehabilitation of fascism, saying that the recent misinterpretations of history, which are being promoted even by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, were inciting hatred between the two nations.

President Pahor & Speaker Židan Express Concern After Neo-Fascist Rally in Trieste (Video)

10 Feb 2020, 11:18 AM

STA, 10 February 2020 - Ksenija Klampfer, the outgoing labour minister, has stepped aside as a vice-leader of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), quitting the party in protest at tentative coalition talks with the Democrats (SDS). Meanwhile, Miro Cerar, the former leader of the SMC, has ruled out being part of a government led by SDS leader Janez Janša.

In a letter addressed to SMC leader Zdravko Počivalšek and distributed to media outlets, Klampfer says her decision to quit is due to her disapproving of how the party is being run, in particular after Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's resignation two weeks ago.

Listing her achievements as minister of labour, the family, social affairs and equal opportunities, Klampfer says that her discussion with Počivalšek the morning before Šarec's resignation showed that "work is not appreciated, that more than work it is populism that counts".

"Under your leadership, the party is increasingly moving course away from the views of people who brought the party the nobleness of socio-liberal values (...) My belief is being confirmed with daily calls by party colleagues who are getting ready to quit the SMC," she writes.

Noting that back in 2017 as the head of the Maribor administrative unit she banned a concert by Croatian ultra-nationalist singer Thompson, Klampfer says that she has never since received any support for her efforts from the party leadership, not even as she encountered problems as minister.

"As vice-president you have never engaged me in the party's work and this makes all the accusations and insults related to that all the more unacceptable. I have somehow reconciled myself to that, but what is happening today I cannot accept.

"We are negotiating on joining a right-wing government, with a completely different ideology. With a party that openly supports Thompson's ultra-nationalism and the far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, who is being followed with concerns by whole Europe."

Adding that the SDS also denies climate change and has a different view of the Second World War, Klampfer says that she believes a person and politician needs to stay true to themselves and their values.

Arguing that despite the storms it has gone through, the party still has a lot of good and capable members who believe in solidarity and dialogue, and who are strangers to rightist ideology, Klampfer appeals to Počivalšek to reconsider where he is taking the party, and to listen to people.

Počivalšek responded with a written statement regretting the decision and expressing surprise. "Slamming the door may be momentarily likeable, but it is also politically immature," he said.

"True, the political circumstances have changed substantially in recent weeks, but this should not absolve the party's leadership of its responsibility to voters and deter it from looking for solutions for the benefit of the party."

He thinks the fact that Klampfer notified him of her decision at almost the same time as she informed the media sheds light on the true background of her decision - "yielding under the weight of public pressure on the SMC to subjugate its future political decisions to the interest of other parties."

Klampfer resigned after the party, set up shortly before the 2014 general election by Miro Cerar, a later prime minister who has served as foreign minister in the outgoing government, entered talks with the SDS in a bid to form a government coalition to replace the Šarec government.

As leader of the party until September 2019, Cerar had been ruling out a coalition with SDS leader Janez Janša. According to the right-leaning magazine Reporter, Cerar has written a letter to Počivalšek too, reiterating his opposition to a Janša-led government.

"Since entering politics I have always advocated the same principles and opposed the politics personified by Janez Janša," Cerar says in the letter.

"I obviously support the efforts by the SMC leader to lead dialogue with all parties but with the goal of forming a coalition to be led by a person who implements democratic values in practice and higher political culture. In case a government is formed under Janša's leadership I cannot take part in it."

Cerar also expressed regret that Šarec failed to justify their trust, arguing that he had not run the government in a unifying enough way, and failed to provide the conditions to smoothly continue the planned work and reforms.

Počivalšek said the SMC had always been liberal and tolerant to other opinions, which was why he saw Cerar's letter as "an expression of his own will and opinion, to which everyone in the SMC is entitled."

Before resuming talks with the SDS on Tuesday, the SMC met the LMŠ today to discuss the possibility for the two parties to run on a joint slate in a potential snap election. The details of the talks have not been disclosed yet.

10 Feb 2020, 10:47 AM

STA, 6 February 2020 - The parliamentary Justice Committee unanimously decided on Thursday to table an amended proposal to change the sexual abuse provisions of the penal code. The reform, proposed by New Slovenia (NSi), envisages the statute of limitations for gravest sexual offences to be tripled.

According to the initial NSi proposal, sex offences would never become statute-barred, with the party aiming to help establish a zero-tolerance policy on such acts.

Under the existing penal code, such criminal acts fall under the statute of limitations in 10 to 30 years, depending on the expected prison sentence.

After submitting the proposal, NSi acknowledged that different types of sexual violence should fall under different statute of limitations categories and tabled the amended document, envisaging gravest sexual offences to become statute-barred in 30 to 90 years.

The parliamentary legal service said that the party had thus acknowledged its reservations.

Justice Minister Andreja Katič said that the outgoing caretaker government agreed with the proposal as well, adding that such changes had been already planned by the ministry.

She highlighted that a task force at the ministry had been drafting more extensive changes to the penal code, also in relation to sexual offences.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court judge Marjeta Švab Širok called for the issue to be tackled as part of a systemic reform of criminal law.

08 Feb 2020, 11:43 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 7 February 2020

Mladina: SMC should not join SDS-led government

STA, 7 February 2020 - Looking at the prospects of a coalition led by the Democrats (SDS) being formed after the demise of the Marjan Šarec government, the left-wing weekly Mladina argues in Friday's commentary that the Modern Centre Party (SMC), seen as key to an SDS-led government, should not join forces with the SDS since this risked undermining democracy.

Recalling the policies of SDS and its leader Janez Janša, Mladina says that the party has been "driving the nation mad for thirty years" by creating a state of emergency all the time, recently leveraging a "special propaganda machine financed by the 'friend' Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, who is not concealing his desire to first economically and then politically subjugate Slovenia."

"The SDS made this pact with Orban to ascend to power with his help. In 2018 it did not succeed, making Orban angry. Now Janša has a new opportunity to carry out what he is expected to do," Mladina says in its editorial.

Arguing that this is the framework, the "political ring" in which Slovenian parties operate, the paper says that this game is destructive for everyone who engages in it. It destroyed former SMC president Miro Cerar and, to a significant extent, Marjan Šarec.

"Is it possible, then, that the SMC enters a government led by this man and this party, after what they have been through because of him? And with the awareness of what kind of historical burden they are taking on," the paper wonders.

"Janša needs SMC deputies to complete his mission, just like Orban needs Janša to carry out his plan to economically subjugate Slovenia to Hungary. Does the SMC really think they can stop this from the inside? In the five and a half years they have spent in Slovenian politics, have they not seen and grasped the dimensions of the politics that Janša represents?

"There is no good reason why after all this the SMC should buy into his latest provocation and allow itself to be used as the horse on which his ostracising policy and money from his master in Hungary will be brought to Slovenia.

"MPs are not in parliament to form governments. Yes, they do that as well. But the reason why we vote for them in general elections is because they are the guardians of democracy. These are their toughest moments. But this is exactly why we call them representatives of the people," the paper concludes in Guardians of Democracy.

Reporter: Politics revolves around Janša

STA, 3 February 2020 - Looking at the political situation in Slovenia following the resignation of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, the right-leaning weekly Reporter speculates it will all revolve around Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša again if an attempt is mounted to forge a new coalition to avert a snap election.

It has long been known that the only thing Janša is interested in domestically is the office of the prime minister. It is also clear he is not willing to step aside in favour of another SDS politician to make it easier to forge a coalition, the paper says in Monday's commentary Shock Doctrine.

"Janša would enter a coalition with anyone just to become prime minister for the third time. Two years ago almost everybody rejected him, now the situation is different," the commentator says, singling out the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) as the most likely coalition partners alongside New Slovenia (NSi).

"Janša's chance of becoming prime minister is definitely better than two years ago, perhaps it is in fact his last opportunity. If he fails yet again, his SDS may suffer in the event of a snap election. The additional voters that Janša badly needs to supplement his loyal base may wonder why he should get their vote if he cannot put together a coalition."

"But if a snap election is held, it will be yet another election against Janez Janša. And this is what Marjan Šarec is counting on - fear of Janša," Reporter concludes.

All our posts in this series are here

08 Feb 2020, 09:00 AM

What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 31 January
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - The EU Court of Justice decided that the lawsuit Slovenia brought against Croatia over its refusal to implement the 2017 border arbitration award is inadmissible, but it said that both countries nevertheless had to endeavour to resolve this dispute in accordance with international law.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of 59 MPs - one short of the necessary majority - tabled amendments that would abolish electoral districts and introduce a relative preferential vote in general elections. The proposal comes after the Constitutional Court declared the size of electoral districts for general election unconstitutional at the end of 2018.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - President Borut Pahor and outgoing Prime Minister Marjan Šarec stressed the importance of a strong and united EU in the face of Brexit at the annual reception for the diplomatic corps.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia posted a budget surplus of EUR 224.6 million, or 0.5% of GDP, in 2019 compared to a surplus of 1.1% in 2018, showed preliminary figures by the Finance Ministry. Budget revenue rose by 1.4% to EUR 10.14 billion and expenditure increased by 4.7% to EUR 9.91 billion. However, the ministry pointed out the 2018 surplus was a result of two major one-off events.
        LJUBLJANA - Janez Stanovnik, one of the most notable Slovenian politicians in the period leading up to independence and the face of the Slovenian WWII Veterans' Association after 2003, died aged 97. Stanovnik was the last president of the Slovenian presidency under the former Yugoslavia between 1988 and 1990.
        LJUBLJANA - Some 6.2 million tourists visited Slovenia last year, a 5% increase compared to 2018. The number of overnight stays grew 0.6% to roughly 15.8 million, Statistics Office data showed.

SATURDAY, 1 February
        BEJA, Portugal - Friends of Cohesion, an informal group of EU members of which Slovenia is a part, called for a fair EU budget in the next seven-year period in which funding for cohesion should not be cut. Igor Mally, state secretary at the prime minister's office, said "we should stick to the proposal presented in the spring of 2018 by the European Commission".

SUNDAY, 2 February
        ZAGREB, Croatia - Former Slovenian President Milan Kučan told the Croatian newspaper Večernji List that Slovenia and Croatia had many common interests but rather than cooperating they were flexing their muscles.
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - Jože Marketz, a member of the Slovenian minority in Austria, was installed as the new bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt.

MONDAY, 3 February
        LJUBLJANA - A week after PM Marjan Šarec resigned, the leader of the opposition Demorats (SDS) Janez Janša invited parliamentary parties to talks on a new centre-right coalition for 7 February. Already on 31 January Modern Centre Party (SMC) leader Zdravko Počivalšek expressed interest in a new coalition, which could give Janša a chance for the necessary majority should he also get either the National Party (SNS) or the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) on board along with New Slovenia (NSi). A parallel coalition initiative was launched by the small centre-left Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB).
        OBREŽJE - Members of the Trade Union of Police Officers (SPS) staged a four-hour token strike, with the union's head Kristjan Mlekuš saying the situation in the police force was critical. Describing the strike as a warning for Slovenia's next government, he argued the police force would collapse due to understaffing unless the situation was addressed.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana mosque will be inaugurated in June after the end of Ramadan, while it will already start operating in about a week, Mufti Nedžad Grabus announced. Grabus pointed out the Muslim Cultural Centre Ljubljana means Muslims in Slovenia were finally getting their own space for prayer and activities. The project will end up costing slightly over EUR 34 million, the bulk of which came from donors from Qatar.
        LJUBLJANA - Car parts maker Hidria announced it had developed innovative aluminium steering wheel system casings for next generation hybrid and electric BMW cars, winning a EUR 30 million contract running until 2030.

TUESDAY, 4 February
        LJUBLJANA - Borut Pahor launched three days of consultations with deputy group heads on the way forward following the resignation of PM Marjan Šarec. The talks showed mid-sized parties are keeping their options open. The president said he might call another series of talks by the end of the month.
        BRNIK - The bankruptcy estate of air carrier Adria Airways was reported to be worth EUR 6.23 million, of which EUR 3.15 million is the title to its office building at Ljubljana airport. Official receiver Janez Pustatičnik believes that due to its complexity, the receivership is unlikely to be completed before the end of 2024.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian national postal operator stopped accepting mail for China until further notice after its partner air carriers suspended flights to the country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Cyclist Primož Roglič, the winner of the Tour of Spain, and world champion kayaker Eva Terčelj were declared the winners of the Bloudek Prizes for sporting achievements, the highest national awards for current and lifetime success in sports.

WEDNESDAY, 5 February
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry advised against any non-urgent travel to China. The ministry said that people should not travel to any areas that are under quarantine due to the novel 2019 coronavirus.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia welcomed a European Commission proposal for a reform of the EU membership process that provides stronger sanctioning of aspiring EU members if they backslide on their reform efforts.
        LJUBLJANA - NKBM, Slovenia's second largest bank, formally completed its takeover of Abanka by transferring the EUR 444 million purchase consideration to the state. The two banks will be merged into a single legal entity this year, creating a strong rival to market leader NLB.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's jobless total hit 79,841 at the end of January, an increase of 6% from December that is mainly due to the expiry of fixed-term job contracts. The figure is still 3.6% lower than in January 2019, data from the Employment Service showed.
        LJUBLJANA - NLB, Slovenia's largest bank, completed the issue of EUR 120 million worth of subordinate bonds in a second such issue since November last year.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian executives are quite pessimistic about the prospects for global economic growth this year with more than half of those surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) thinking that growth will slow down.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey conducted by the Slovenian central bank showed that Slovenian banks are unlikely to follow suit of some banks abroad that have started charging fees for household sight deposits to compensate for the loss of earnings due to negative interest rates.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia saw the biggest slump in the volume of retail trade among EU members in December compared to the same month a year earlier, and one of the biggest month-on-month drops, showed data from Eurostat.

THURSDAY, 6 February
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor appointed Robert Šumi, a lecturer at the police academy, the next head of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption. Šumi is succeeding Boris Štefanec, who sought a second term but was snubbed, having faced years of heavy criticism about his performance.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) would win an election with 18.2% of the vote, followed by the LMŠ of outgoing PM Marjan Šarec with 16.3%, Delo's opinion poll suggested. 62.8% of respondents favour an early election, and over 26% would prefer a new government coalition to be formed with the existing parliamentary parties.
        LJUBLJANA - Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Aleksandra Pivec received a death threat via a letter warning her against entering a coalition with the Democratic Party (SDS).
        LJUBLJANA - The government approved Slovenian Sovereign Holding's (SSH) asset management plan for 2020, which contains a long-awaited plan to consolidate, manage and restructure tourism companies. While the consolidation plan has been months in the making, the government did not provide any details about it after the session.
        LJUBLJANA - Backing the Justice Ministry and taking a step further than the government proposal that upgraded animals from things to living beings, the parliamentary Justice Committee voted in favour of an amendment to the property code law that defines animals as sentient beings.

All our posts in this series are here

07 Feb 2020, 15:14 PM

STA, 6 February 2020 - Meeting EU Council President Charles Michel on Friday, outgoing Prime Minister Marjan Šarec will highlight Slovenia's key priorities regarding the EU 2021-2027 budget, including cohesion policy, the situation in the Western Slovenia cohesion region and funds for rural development.

As the EU leaders are in the process of hammering out the bloc's next long-term budget, the EU Council president is meeting as many as 16 of them this week.

After wrapping up all the bilateral meetings, Michel will draw up a new compromise proposal replacing the Finnish presidency's document, which failed to meet any expectations.

What will follow is an emergency meeting of ministers in charge of EU affairs on 17 February, with a special budget summit starting on 20 February.

The latter will mark the first actual time the EU leaders will discuss the next long-term budget even though the EU Commission presented its proposal as early as in May 2018.

Rumour has it that Michel plans to coop the leaders up until they reach an agreement even if that takes days. Other unofficial sources state that he will not keep at it if hours-long negotiations do not prove fruitful.

It will be easier though to predict possible outcomes after the compromise proposal is presented. However, currently it is believed that a final agreement will not be reached as early as in February.

Given how budget talks went in the past, at least a couple of summits are usually needed for the member states to agree on a next long-term budget.

Budget negotiations always serve as an opportunity for the largest EU net contributors, striving for the smallest possible budget, and net beneficiaries, opposing any cuts to cohesion funds, to fight it out.

This time around though, the differences are the most profound so far, with Brexit looming over the negotiations.


Interested in Slovenia's euro coins? Check out Slovenia in Your Pocket: Coins that Celebrate the Culture

Following the UK leaving the EU, the remaining major net contributors, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands, labelled the frugal five, are determined that the budget should equal 1% of EU 27 gross national income (GNI), which is the traditional budget volume.

Meanwhile, the so-called cohesion countries call for at least 1.11% of GNI, a solution proposed by the EU Commission in 2018. The EU Parliament proposes the figure to be even stronger - 1.3% of GNI.

At the end of last year, Finland's Presidency proposed the budget to amount to 1.07% of GNI or EUR 48 billion less than the EU Commission-proposed sum, envisaging cuts to cohesion and agriculture funds. The Finnish proposal has been deemed impossible to implement, but it will be used as one of the starting points for further negotiations.

Slovenia supports the EU Commission-proposed budget in theory, with the country's top priorities being cohesion funds, the smallest possible cuts to the funds for the more developed of Slovenia's two cohesion regions, Western Slovenia, and to the rural development funds.

Taking into account the EU Commission's proposal, Slovenia is set to get EUR 3.1 billion in cohesion funds.

In December, Šarec labelled the Finnish presidency's proposal extremely bad for Slovenia, saying that it would reduce cohesion funds by 28% compared to the current multi-annual EU budget. It would thus put Slovenia among those countries which would suffer the greatest loss.

Slovenia is also urging that no country would lose more than 40% of funds given the current financial framework, thus trying to maintain the status of the more developed Western Slovenia region.

The country welcomed the Finnish proposal's rural development policy though, since it envisages a significant increase in relevant funds - by EUR 10 billion.

Moreover, in December, Šarec pointed out in Brussels that pursuing the 2050 climate neutrality target should not be done at the expense of cohesion policy.

Following a recent ministerial meeting about the green deal, the Finance Ministry said that a number of countries were reluctant about moving funds from cohesion and agriculture programmes into green investments.

07 Feb 2020, 10:09 AM

STA, 6 February 2020 - The parliamentary Justice Committee voted on Thursday in favour of an amendment to the property code law that defines animals as sentient beings, taking a step further than the government proposal that upgraded animals from things to living beings.

The amendment, which is in line with the original proposal by the Justice Ministry that was rejected by the government, comes as the MPs of five left-leaning parties - the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), the SocDems, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and the Left - sided with Justice Minister Andreja Katič on the matter.

The amendment was confirmed on the committee in a 7:1 vote, with Dejan Kaloh of the Democrats (SDS) also saying the SDS would not oppose the amendment, since society had accepted in recent years that animals are sentient beings.

Still, Kaloh believes it would have been better to specify this in the animal protection law as opposed to the property code law.

Reservations due to potential risks were also expressed by Dušan Verbič of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), but Justice Ministry representative insisted the proposed solutions were to the benefit of the citizens and creditors.

One of the worries expressed by the SMC in the past is that this could also lead to demands that animals as sentient beings are no longer eaten.

Meanwhile, Minister Katič explained that certain other laws, for instance the claim enforcement and security act, and the inheritance act, would also be changed in case today's amendment is passed.

07 Feb 2020, 09:54 AM

STA, 6 February 2020 – The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Aleksandra Pivec has received a death threat warning her against entering a coalition with the Democratic Party (SDS), the commercial broadcaster POP TV reported on Thursday.

Pivec, the minister in charge of agriculture, confirmed for POP TV that she received a letter with inappropriate contents on Wednesday.

The letter bore her name and was sent to Parliament House, said Pivec, adding that she handed it to the police immediately.

She did not want to elaborate on the contents of the letter due to safety measures being taken. The broadcaster however said that the letter was a very direct threat against her life if she took her party into a coalition with the SDS.

POP TV reported that Pivec had been placed under police protection. The police, however, has not confirmed this for the STA so as not to undermine the safety of protected persons.

The police indicated, indirectly, that an investigation had been launched.

On Friday, Pivec is planned to meet with SDS head Janez Janša, who is testing the waters to see whether parliamentary parties are willing to form a coalition with the SDS after Prime Minister Marjan Šarec resigned on 27 January.

04 Feb 2020, 09:18 AM

STA, 3 February 2020 - The leader of the largest opposition party, Janez Janša of the Democrats (SDS), has invited the other parliamentary parties to talks on a new coalition this Friday, the STA has learnt from several parties.

Janša would like to meet each party separately, and if common ground is found, he would plan a second round of talks for Tuesday, 11 February.

The SDS has also invited the coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), which today invited all parties but the SDS to form a "project coalition" which would be in office until electoral legislation is reformed.

Meanwhile, outgoing Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's LMŠ party and the opposition Left have already said they would not go to the SDS-led talks.

Friday's talks would try to establish whether the parties have compatible programmes for individual areas, or ministries.

The structure of a new government as well as suitable staff would also be discussed to form what the SDS terms For Slovenia coalition pledge.

In the invitation, Janša writes that Slovenia's greater prosperity is the basic goal after every election.

He believes that by forming a new coalition in this term at least some missed opportunities could be made up for.

Despite winning the 2018 election, the SDS was unable to form a government because it was snubbed by other parties, which Janša termed "irrational policy of exclusion".

He believes obstacles to the country's faster and balanced development should be eliminated, more freedom, security, responsibility and justice should be introduced, order restored in healthcare and strategic answers found to the ageing society. The new government should also help shape European solutions.

Janša stressed that the SDS was probably the only party fully ready for a potential early election.

Nevertheless, a new election could result in a similarly fragmented parliament, which would put it in a similarly difficult situation in terms of coalition-forming.

Janša also noted that by forming a coalition without going to elections would get Slovenia a new government as early as the start of the spring, as opposed to the end of the summer in case of an early election.

Šarec resigned on 27 January, 16 months after his government was sworn in, because he assessed he could not deliver on his promises with the minority government.

Tomorrow, President Borut Pahor is launching a three-day consultation with deputy group leaders on the way out of the current political crisis.

04 Feb 2020, 09:11 AM

STA, 3 February 2020 - The situation in the police force is critical, president of the Trade Union of Police Officers (SPS) Kristjan Mlekuš told the press on Monday as union members staged a four-hour token strike. The action is a warning for Slovenia's next government that unless the situation is addressed, the police force will collapse due to understaffing, he said.

The SPS, one of the two police unions, was on strike between 8 am and noon both inland and on national borders.

Speaking to the press at the Obrežje border crossing, Mlekuš said that police officers from his union were present today near dangerous road sections, near kindergartens, schools and retirement homes.

Moreover, officers working on the border were conducting more thorough examinations of cars and cargo vehicles.

Their message is that police officers are present at the moment, but "irresponsible policies toward the police force" might change that, said Mlekuš.

Unless a downward trend in the number of police officers is reversed, the force will collapse due to understaffing, which will result in poorer security, he said.

The SPS claims that police leadership does not respect the strike agreement reached last year. Mlekuš has also denied claims by Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar that most demands have already been met or are in the process of being realised.

He said today that the trade union would not step up its strike, waiting instead for a new government to form.

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