Politics

18 Aug 2021, 12:00 PM

STA, 17 August 2021 - Four centre-left parties are planning to file a motion to vote Education Minister Simona Kustec out of office, arguing that two weeks before the start of the new school year, it is still not clear how primary and secondary schools will organise the education process while the epidemiological situation in the country is deteriorating.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by Tanja Fajon, leader of the Social Democrats (SD) after a meeting of the leaders of the other three parties - the LMŠ, SAB and Left.

Fajon told the press that the no-confidence motion could be filed to the National Assembly within a week.

"It's as if the education minister has not been here for the past year and a half," Fajon said in reference to what the opposition sees as Kustec's inaction during the coronavirus epidemic.

The four parties are mulling more such motions, including against Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak, which Fajon said would be panned by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ).

The other three party leaders did not speak to the press.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport said it could not comment on the motion until it had been filed to parliament.

It stressed however, that preparations for the new school year had been in full swing and running smoothly since the start of the summer holidays.

The first meeting with all kindergarten, primary and secondary school head teachers will be held tomorrow, featuring representatives of the education and health ministries and some other key health and education institutions.

No major changes are planned compared to the last school year, except for the new requirement of compliance with the rule of having recovered from Covid or being vaccinated or tested, the ministry explained in a written statement.

The centre-left opposition has mounted an ouster motion against Kustec in spring, but she survived it in a 41:38 vote, as 46 votes are needed to sack a minister.

It is for now clear from previous statements by health officials that secondary schools students and kids in the last three years of primary school will have to self-test as was the case towards the end of the last school year. If the country enters tier red of restrictions, testing is to become mandatory and more frequent.

18 Aug 2021, 10:44 AM

STA, 18 August 2021 - From a total of 2,228 PCR tests analysed in Slovenia on Tuesday, 385 came back positive for coronavirus, up 67 from Monday. The positivity rate rose by 1.8 points to 17.3%, the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) said on Wednesday. This is the highest daily tally of new confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country since 25 May.

Apart from the PCR tests, another 19,614 rapid antigen tests were also carried out on Tuesday, with all positives double-checked with PCR tests.

The 7-day average of new cases rose by 20 to 218 and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents by 11 to 118.

As for hospitals, the government said that there were currently 57 hospitalised Covid-19 patients, eight more than yesterday. The number of patients in intensive care dropped by two to none, while three Covid-19 patients died yesterday.

According to the NIJZ's estimate, there are now 2,560 active cases in the country, a daily rise of 246. The last time there were as many active infections was in mid-June, when the epidemic was on a decline.

A total of 942,522 people or 54% of the adult population in Slovenia have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 846,449 or 49% have been fully immunised.

17 Aug 2021, 14:10 PM

STA, 17 August 2021 - As the situation in Afghanistan has escalated, more Afghan citizens are likely to seek asylum in Slovenia in the coming week and months, as problems with the Taliban has so far been among the cited reasons for seeking international protection here, the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants has said.

There are 48 Afghan citizens who have been granted international protection in Slovenia, procedures are under way for another 46, while another 120 have expressed intent to file a request for it.

Since the beginning of 2005, 62 Afghan citizens have been granted international protection in Slovenia, the office has told the STA.

However, the actual number is lower because one has died, two have left Slovenia and several have been awarded Slovenian citizenship.

Still, the Afghans who are granted asylum largely stay here. "They regularly attend integration activities, learn the language, while children go to school."

The office expects more Afghans to seek protection in Slovenia as problems with the Taliban have so far been frequently cited as a reason for seeking international protection here, and as Afghans who have worked for the Slovenian army in Afghanistan have turned to Slovenia for help in recent weeks.

Among the asylum seekers in Slovenia are Afghans who have managed to escape the Taliban's attempts to recruit them or fled due to the general security situation there.

"There are also some other reasons such as blood feud, change of religion or homosexuality etc, but these are less frequent," the office has explained.

Unaccompanied Afghan citizens under the age of 18 often say they have lost touch with their family in Afghanistan or while fleeing from there.

Last year, 751 Afghanistan citizens asked for international protection in Slovenia.

The figure rose this year, as 750 asked for it in the first seven months alone, of whom 187 women and 563 single men.

The bulk of the single-man group were minors who came to Slovenia without their family.

However, the office has recently recorded a rise in the number of entire families seeking international protection and a rise in asylum seekers who have previously asked for international protection in another EU country and have been granted the status of refugee or subsidiary protection.

With the Taliban assuming power in Afghanistan, the question has arisen of police potentially sending Afghans who will not be granted asylum back to their country.

But under Slovenia's foreigners legislation, police cannot return migrants to their country if their lives would be at stake.

Slovenian Interior Ministry data shows that 24 Afghan citizens were sent back to Afghanistan in the last ten years.

17 Aug 2021, 10:16 AM

STA, 16 August 2021 - The Vox Populi poll carried out for the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer shows that the four centre-left opposition parties which have previously joined forces in an informal coalition to topple the current Janez Janša government, would win a combined 51 seats in the 90-seat parliament if an election was held this Sunday.

Last week, Marjan Šarec of the opposition LMŠ, urged his remaining three centre-left opposition parties to sign an agreement on post-election cooperation.

While the Social Democrats (SD) and Left welcomed the call in principle, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) accused Šarec of going solo.

The latest poll shows that Janša's ruling Democrats (SDS) continue enjoying the strongest support at 18%, up 0.2 of a percentage point in August over July.

The SDS is followed by three centre-left opposition parties - the SD at 12.2%, Left at 8.9% and the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ at 8.5%), all slightly down over July. The fourth centre-left coalition party, the SAB, polled at 3.4%.

If a general election was held on Sunday, the four opposition parties would win 51 seats to easily form a government coalition, while even the seats of only three of them - the SD, Left and LMŠ - would suffice to form a coalition, as they would win 46 seats.

Based on the number of votes by decided voters, the support would translate into 19 seats for the SD, 14 seats for the and 13 for the LMŠ of former PM Šarec.

The coalition New Slovenia (NSi) meanwhile polled at 5.5%, with all the other parties, be it parliamentary or non-parliamentary, including the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), polling at 1.4% or lower.

The number of undecided voters has increased from 29.6% in July to 30.4%, while 6.9% said they would not go to the polls, up from 6.5%.

The government earned low support in Augusts's Vox Populi, with 69.5% saying it performed poorly, whereas 27.4% consider it successful.

President Borut Pahor reclaimed the top of rankings of Slovenia's 22 most popular politicians to unseat MEP and ex-NSi leader Ljudmila Novak.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar placed third and parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič fourth, Foreign Minister Anže Logar is tenth and Prime Minister Janša 20th.

Pollster Ninamedia surveyed a total of 700 persons between 10 and 12 August.

16 Aug 2021, 15:13 PM

STA, 16 August 2021 - Four centre-left opposition parties have requested a session of the parliamentary Education Committee to get answers from the government on how schools will organise when they reopen on 1 September given that coronavirus numbers are surging yet again.

"The new school year starts in just over two weeks but we do not have any answers about how classes will be organised," Marko Koprivc, a deputy for the Social Democrats (SD), said on Monday.

The opposition alleges Slovenia does not have a strategy for the new school year and that schools have not received any instructions from the Education Ministry yet.

They said Education Minister Simona Kustec had failed to use the summer for preparations, instead she attended the Tokyo Olympics as a tourist.

The parties expect Prime Minister Janez Janša to attend the committee session since it is him, not Minister Kustec, who holds the reigns in the educational system.

Indeed, Left deputy Željko Cigler said Janša should dismiss the minister lest he be held responsible for the "collapse of the Slovenian educational system".

The opposition has not yet discussed whether to seek a vote of no confidence against the minister, but Cigler said this was one way to "stop the destructive educational policy".

The Education Ministry has for weeks faced criticism from SVIZ, the teachers' union, and from several head teachers about the absence of instructions as to how school work should be organised.

In the last school year Slovenian pupils spent several months learning from home, before they returned to classrooms in spring.

It remains unclear for now whether there will be mask mandates at schools once again, while according to Health Ministry State Secretary Franc Vindišar, mandatory vaccination for teachers is not being considered.

16 Aug 2021, 14:46 PM

STA, 16 August 2021 - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. "Violence should be ended, the civilian population, in particular women and children, should be protected, and basic human rights standards should be upheld," the ministry said on Twitter on Monday.

The ministry told the STA that it was collecting information about possible Slovenian citizens still being in Afghanistan.

It added that no one had asked it for help and that all Slovenian soldiers who had operated in Afghanistan had returned home safely on 20 May.

Unofficially, a few Slovenian civilian citizens were in Afghanistan at the weekend, and they have already left the country. The ministry is checking this information.

Defence Ministry Matej Tonin meanwhile said today that three Slovenian citizens were currently in Kabul, with attempts being made to evacuate them.

There were four Slovenian citizens there until recently, with Slovenia successfully evacuating one of them, the minister added.

The remaining three are still near the Kabul airport, said Tonin, who did not want to identify the Slovenian citizens or explain what they were doing in Afghanistan.

"Taking care of our own citizens is currently our main priority," he said.

There is no news about the Afghan citizens who had cooperated with the Slovenian Armed Forces and who asked for assistance and protection from possible retribution of the Taliban, either.

The Defence Ministry said on Friday it is in constant touch with them, and that possibilities of providing assistance to them and their family members were still being examined.

According to unofficial information, these are two to four Afghans who cooperated with Slovenian soldiers as interpreters. The number could amount to between ten and fifteen persons, their families included.

It is not publicly known where these people are. Slovenian soldiers operated in Herat in western Afghanistan, which was taken by the Taliban on Thursday night. Currently, evacuations take place only from the Kabul airport.

Tonin said that the Slovenian Armed Forces had cooperated with Italy in Afghanistan, hiring interpreters and other staff through the Italian forces.

The Afghans who cooperated with the Slovenian army had the opportunity to go to safety together with their families with the Italian army, which is what the majority of them did.

Some of them, however, hoped that the situation will improve and did not take this opportunity, and now are still in Afghanistan.

They have turned to Slovenia. which has been working in recent days on logistic details to enable them to leave Afghanistan safely, while the situation was deteriorating virtually on an hourly basis, the minister said.

"Our message to these people is that we will not abandon them, that we will carry out all necessary asylum and other processes in Slovenia ... and move them first in a safe country, and then further to Slovenia," Tonin added.

He said that the Slovenian army knew their names, surnames, locations and their precise number, which was not higher than 20.

"The entire global public, and unfortunately intelligence services as well, are surprised by the fact that practically all Afghan institutions, including the army, disintegrated so quickly. This also causes logistical problems."

The Foreign Ministry also told the STA that the EU foreign ministers would discuss on Tuesday the situation in Afghanistan in a meeting called by High Representative of the EU Josep Borrell.

Slovenia is in the group of around 70 countries that have called on the Taliban in a statement to enable safe departure of all foreign citizens from Afghanistan and also to Afghan citizens who want to leave the country.

15 Aug 2021, 10:13 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.

Number of new infections on Friday highest since 3 June

LJUBLJANA - A total of 264 new coronavirus infections were confirmed in Slovenia on Friday in 1,869 PCR tests, for a positivity rate of 14.1%, up 3.3 percentage points compared to the day before. The number of new infections confirmed yesterday is by 65 higher than on Thursday, and is the highest daily number since 3 June. The rolling seven-day average of new cases rose was up by 19 to 180, and the cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents also continued to steadily increase, going up by six to stand at 92. The number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients remained at 42, with seven of requiring intensive care, one more than yesterday. There were no Covid-19 deaths yesterday.

Face masks at public cultural events mandatory as next Monday

LJUBLJANA - The government has decided that people attending public cultural events will have to wear face masks as of next Monday, with the exception of performers. There are no changes regarding restrictions of public gatherings, while stricter requirements for testing of employees in certain activities are to be introduced on 23 August. Under the decree that will be in force until 22 August, the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) rule remains in force for public events and gatherings in enclosed spaces and for outdoor events for more than 100 people.

Transit passengers need to produce Covid certificate after 22 August

LJUBLJANA - The government decided on Friday that passengers transiting through Slovenia will not be required to produce a Covid certificate only until 22 August. "As of 23 August, transit will no longer be possible without meeting the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule (PCT) rule," the government said. If they want to avoid being ordered to quarantine for ten days in Slovenia, transit passengers will have to produce a certificate proving that the have either recovered from Covid-19, tested or vaccinated.

Pharma wholesaler Salus sees H1 revenue and net profit go up

LJUBLJANA - Salus, the Ljubljana-based pharmaceutical wholesaler, has reported a 13% rise in sales revenue for the first half of 2021 year-on-year to EUR 217.5 million. Its net profit stood at EUR 7.4 million, which compares to EUR 4.2 million in the same period last year. Earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) totalled EUR 10.5 million and operating profit amounted to EUR 8.4 million, the group said in a press release.

Youth Strategic Forum debates development of Slovenia and EU

MARIBOR - A debate on future development of Slovenia and the EU as part of the Youth Strategic Forum heard Defence Minister and coalition New Slovenia (NSi) president Matej Tonin noting that it was right that young people were interested in the future, as it depended on them. Events such as this are an opportunity for them to exchange views, Tonin said at the conference organised by the youth wings of the NSi and the ruling Democrats (SDS) and in conjunction with the Young Entrepreneurs Organisation EU JEUNE and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Flower show in Volčji Potok marking 30 years of Slovenia

VOLČJI POTOK - An exhibition of flowers opened in Arboretum Volčji Potok to mark the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence. It will be on display until 29 August in ten different spots around the botanical gardens, with visitors being able to admire some 50,000 different flowers that present the natural and cultural heritage of the country. The Flowers and Peace exhibition in the venue located some 15 kilometres north of Ljubljana pays homage to the first exhibition of flowers staged there 30 years ago, after the Slovenian war for independence.

Slovenian literature translation seminar ahead of Frankfurt Book Fair

LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - A week-long international seminar on translation of Slovenian literature got under way in Ljubljana and Maribor. Commenting on the event, former Slovenian Book Agency (JAK) head Renata Zamida told the STA that Slovenia's appearance as guest of honour at the 2023 Frankfurt Book Fair has proved a fresh impetus to translation in recent years. The goal of the seminar is to increase the number of translations of top quality books abroad and to better inform translators about Slovenian books and writers.

11 Aug 2021, 14:19 PM

STA, 11 August 2021 - Slovenia saw as many as 248 people test positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, an increase of nearly 80% from the same day a week ago, as the Jožef Stefan Institute says the country has already moved to the orange phase under ECDC criteria and will, given the current trend, move to red in early September.

Fresh figures from the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) show 12.6% of the 1,974 PCR tests performed yesterday came back positive, as a total of 19,126 rapid antigen tests were taken.

The 7-day average of new cases has increased to 139, up by 15 from the day before, and the cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents rose by eight to 81.

The NIJZ estimates that there are now 1,752 active cases in the country, up more than 160 from the day before.

The Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) has calculated infections double in about 20 days despite this being the height of the holiday season, which functions as a partial lockdown.

Considering the epidemiological data released weekly by the NIJZ, local transmissions are increasing and are in fact prevailing, which means the outbreak would increase even without imported cases.

The IJS has assessed that Slovenia has already moved into the orange phase under criteria used by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

"To prevent the fourth wave spreading too much, and mainly to prevent hospitals from becoming overstretched, at least all those aged above 40 should get vaccinated as soon as possible," said the IJS.

Government data show 927,569 people or 53% of the adult population have been vaccinated with the first dose and 826,390 or 48% of adults have been fully inoculated.

All the latest data on COVID and Slovenia is here

07 Aug 2021, 08:44 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, 30 July
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian and Italian police resumed the joint patrolling of the border in a bid to prevent illegal migrations on the Balkan route after they were suspended more than a year ago due to Covid-19.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health launched a new mobile app enabling event organisers and service providers to check the validity of EU digital Covid certificates. The app scans QR codes on the certificates to check whether the person has been tested for, recovered from or vaccinated against Covid-19 without getting access to personal or health information of the person.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's national budget recorded a EUR 1.946 billion deficit in the first six months of the year, slightly more than in the same period in 2020, when it reached EUR 1.917 billion. Contributing the most to the deficit was an 18% growth in expenditure, which was mitigated by a 25.3% growth in revenue.
        LJUBLJANA - Annual inflation in Slovenia in July ran at 2%, mostly on the account of more expensive petroleum products. Petroleum products accounted for 1.2 percentage points of the annual inflation rate in July, as the prices of liquid fuels were up by 25.2%, diesel by 29.2% and petrol by 24.4%.
        LJUBLJANA - The Medical Chamber is investigating two doctors due to their contentious statements about Covid-19 vaccination and vaccines. Unofficially, one of them is a member of a prominent anti-vaccine doctors' movement and another is Nada Hiti, a GP who published a recording on social media after diluting an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine with water and urine and sending the sample to the laboratory for analysis.

SATURDAY, 31 July
        KRANJSKA GORA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek offered up Slovenia as a broker in geopolitical issues as he addressed an annual ceremony dedicated to Russian prisoners of WWI. "Our country has enough knowledge and even more economic results to get actively involved in the game of big players," he said at the Russian Chapel under the Vršič mountain pass.
        TOKYO, Japan - Slovenian discuss thrower Kristjan Čeh crowned his maiden appearance at the Olympics with fifth place after he was considered one of the top contenders for a medal. "This is my first Olympic appearance, I was fifth, this is awesome," he said.
        TOKYO, Japan - Slovenian shooter Živa Dvoršak achieved her best ever result at Olympic Games after finishing seventh in the rifle three position, the most prestigious shooting discipline.

SUNDAY, 1 August
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called on EU member states to provide aid to Lithuania in the face of "ongoing critical security situation" on the Lithuania-Belarus border due to illegal migration. Protection of the EU's external border is our common responsibility, Janša tweeted.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša tweeted "Krystsina is welcome in Slovenia" as he offered refuge to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya amid reports that she was planning to seek asylum after the Belarusian Olympic Committee removed her from the national team for publicly criticising the coaches.
        MARIBOR - The 32nd Summer Puppet Pier festival dedicated to puppetry got under way in Maribor, putting Slovenian independent puppeteers in spotlight in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

MONDAY, 2 August
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian central bank announced that stress tests conducted by the European Central Bank (ECB) and Banka Slovenije confirmed the stability of the Slovenian banking system. It pointed out that Slovenian banks would fare well even under unfavourable economic scenarios.
        LJUBLJANA - Telecommunications provider Telemach is suing telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije over alleged violations of regulatory decisions, demanding the payment of EUR 28.8 million in damages with default interest from 1 June until payment, according to a posting on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved a EUR 22.8 million Slovenian scheme to support companies in various sectors affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictions implemented to limit the spread of the virus. The measure was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework.
        BRNIK - Spanish flag carrier Iberia launched scheduled flights between Madrid and Ljubljana, with two weekly flights planned until the end of August. Madrid is the 12th destination available from Ljubljana airport, with at least three more expected by the end of September.
        PIVKA - Center Dina opened in Pivka to present three species of large carnivores living in Slovenia - the brown bear, wolf and lynx. It is a continuation of a European project Carnivora Dinarica, which is aimed at protecting the carnivores and promoting co-existence.

TUESDAY, 3 August
        TOKYO, Japan - Slovenia advanced to the semi-finals of the Olympic basketball tournament in a historic feat by defeating Germany 94:70, going unbeaten since the start of the Olympics in what is their Olympic debut.
        LJUBLJANA - The latest coronavirus figures showed that Slovenia's daily coronavirus count hit 181, the highest daily increase since 9 June, as the test positivity rate exceeded 10%. Commenting, Health Ministry State Secretary Franc Vinidšar said Slovenia is in the fourth wave of the epidemic, urging people to get vaccinated to stop the wave as soon as possible.
        LJUBLJANA - A tweet in which a member of the pro-Nazi Yellow Jackets who is also editor-in-chief of the recently established National Press Agency (NTA) labelled Adolf Hitler a hero caused an outcry, with opposition parties demanding a response from the government and law enforcement. The tweet by Urban Purgar, who is also the head of the recently-established Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values, will be investigated by the prosecution.

WEDNESDAY, 4 August
        LJUBLJANA - The Culture Ministry condemned the tweet labelling Adolf Hitler a hero by Urban Purgar, the president of the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values, to which the ministry awarded the status of an NGO in public interest in June. It also said the status had been awarded in line with relevant rules.
        LJUBLJANA - The General Police Department confirmed three officers of the Ljubljana Police Department had been given written warnings before termination of employment due to legislation violation in relation to two separate protests - an alternative celebration of Statehood Day in Ljubljana on 25 June by anti-government protesters and a rally by anti-maskers in front of parliament from 5 to 7 July. Reportedly, all three officers hold senior positions.
        LJUBLJANA - Prosecutors Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir filed another suit against the government over its May decision not to appoint them Slovenia's European delegated prosecutors as proposed by the Justice Ministry after they were vetted by the Prosecution Council.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a decree setting down the method of checking compliance with the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule. To prevent personal data abuse, the user scanning the Covid certificate QR code using a relevant app will have access only to the certificate holder's name and year of birth. The Information Commissioner said personal data processing required a law, so she will ask the Constitutional Court to review the decree.
        LJUBLJANA - A total of 70,655 people were registered as unemployed in July, down 0.6% from June and as much as 21% from July 2020. The total kept falling despite the number of the newly registered rising by 54% from June to 5,443. The latter figure was still nearly 34% below last year's.
        TOKYO, Japan - Slovenian sailors Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol finished fifth in the 470 class at the Tokyo Olympics, and Maruša Mišmaš Zrimšek placed sixth in the women's 3,000-metre steeplechase, improving her personal best and Slovenia's national record.

THURSDAY, 5 August
        TOKYO, Japan - The Slovenian men's basketball team lost 89:90 to France in the semi-finals of the Olympic basketball tournament and will play for the bronze medal against Australia on Saturday. This is Slovenia's first loss at what is the debut Olympics for the team.
        WARSAW, Poland - PM Janez Janša discussed the judiciary and the issue of primacy of EU law in an interview with the Polish news agency PAP, saying that EU law is above national laws, but not above member states' constitutions. He talked of the importance of understanding the countries' historical circumstances and starting positions.
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - The National Council of Carinthian Slovenians (NSKS) is critical of Austria's report to the Council of Europe on the implementation of the CoE Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The report suggests that everything is fine with ethnic minorities, which is not the case, said lawyer Rudi Vouk, the author of the NSKS response to the report.
        LJUBLJANA - SID Banka, Slovenia's development and export bank, announced it will get a new management in January 2022 as the term of the management board led by Sibil Svilan expires at the end of 2021. The fully state-owned bank will be led by Damijan Dolinar, with Gašpar Ogris Martič and Stanka Šarc Majdič serving as board members.
        TOKYO, Japan - Tina Šutej placed fifth in the women's pole vault at the Summer Olympics. The 32-year-old national record holder cleared 4.50 metres in the final but then failed to clear 4.70 metres to join the top four.
        LJUBLJANA - Property prices kept rising in Slovenia in 2020 while transactions on the property market decreased. Transactions rose in early 2021 to reach approximately the pre-pandemic 2019 levels in April, as prices keep rising, the Mapping and Surveying Authority said.
        TRIESTE, Italy - The first ever public demonstration of fully encrypted quantum communication between Italy, Slovenia and Croatia took place during a meeting of G20 digital economy ministers. It was the first time in history that fully quantum encrypted communication was made possible by means of optical fibres connecting three nodes.

 

05 Aug 2021, 16:56 PM

STA, 5 August 2021 - The government has adopted a decree setting down checking compliance with the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule. Under a decision taken at a correspondence session on Wednesday, the party scanning the Covid certificate QR code using a relevant app will have access only to the certificate holder's name and year of birth.

The decision comes after Milan Krek, the head of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), said on Tuesday that a legal basis for the app was in the works.

NIJZ told the STA on Thursday a new app will be launched today or tomorrow based on the decree after two apps have already been taken down, one due to privacy concerns and the other due to a risk of abuse.

The app, to be managed by NIJZ, will be used when the validity of the Covid certificate is checked using a QR code, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) said.

If an individual produces another form to show compliance with the rule of being vaccinated, tested or reconvalescent under relevant laws, this certificate will be checked.

The decree says that checking compliance with the rule takes place if the person whose status will be checked consents to giving access to their personal data.

After the QR code is scanned, the app will not reveal which of the three conditions have been met to produce a valid Covid certificate.

The user of the app will only get access to the certificate holder's name and year of birth to prevent any abuse of the system.

The decree says that the app must not enable data storage or processing or be linked to any database, according to UKOM.

The decree has been published in the Official Gazette and is effective from today. It will be in place until other related decrees setting down Covid measures are revoked.

NIJZ released an app for checking the validity of Covid certificates on 23 July, when organisers of public events and gatherings became obligated to check visitors' certificates, only to delete it on the same day due to privacy concerns. Hospitality providers in Slovenia have been required to check guests' certificates since 26 July.

The second app was then launched on 30 July, revealing merely the fact the individual meets the Covid requirement, but experts have warned it paves the way for abuses.

Before the government adopted the latest decree, Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik warned that a relevant legal basis should be adopted to enable checking of Covid certificates in hospitality and event industries.

NIJZ replied to Prelesnik on Wednesday, presenting the latest method of checking compliance and highlighting that the new app was not linked with any database apart from the required central app server and a server storing rules to check validity of the certificates.

Today, Prelesnik said that she would suspend the app-related procedure to ask the Constitutional Court to review the decree.

She said in a press release any personal data processing interferes with human rights guaranteed by the constitution, so it cannot be regulated in a government decree.

"Adopting a government decree does not provide for the same level of democratic process as decision-making in parliament," she explained her decision.

Prelesnik said she understood the urgency of measures due to the epidemiological situation, but stressed that a law is needed to determine personal data processing.

04 Aug 2021, 12:16 PM

STA, 3 August 2021 - Ljubljana police have arrested seven suspects, of whom two foreigners, as part of two criminal rings that organised transport of over 200 illegal migrants from Bosnia-Herzegovina via Slovenia to Italy for financial gain in 2020 and 2021. Six suspects have been remanded in custody and one is in house arrest.

The first ring is suspected of having organised illegal crossing of the border and transport for 116 citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Ljubljana Police Department said on Tuesday.

The investigation targeted five suspects, each of whom had a specific task in the ring, which was led by a Slovenian citizen from the area of Ljubljana.

In Italy, the ring had at least three unidentified ring leaders.

The manner in which the ring helped illegal migrants get from Bosnia to Italy was such to pose a risk to the lives of the migrants, the police said.

Each illegal migrant was also charged some EUR 3,500 for the journey, with the ring estimated to have gained at least EUR 406,000 in illegal gain.

On 10 May Ljubljana police arrested three ring members, of whom two Slovenian citizens and one Bosnian.

The other ring is suspected of having organised illegal transport for at least 91 foreigners from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Bangladesh.

Six persons had been investigated, and four arrested in the sting on 17 June, of whom three were Slovenian citizens and one Serbian. The investigating judge then sent one of them into house arrest.

The gang is estimated to have gained at least around EUR 28,700.

In the first investigation, the Slovenian police cooperated with Italian authorities to exchange information, and in the second one with police from Italy and Croatia.

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