FRIDAY, 18 September
LJUBLJANA - The increased level of new coronavirus infections persisted and the latest daily all-time high in Slovenia was reported for 17 September when 137 out of 3,557 swabs came back positive. The figure did not escalate in the following days, with 122 new cases reported for 23 September when the country had 1,427 active cases. The number of those in hospital remained stable, at 63 on 24 September, with 13 patients in intensive care. There were nine deaths between 17 and 23 September, raising the total toll to 145.
LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar expressed solidarity with Greece concerning migrations and relations with Turkey as he hosted his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias. Dendias thanked him for the support and welcomed Slovenia's desire to join the MED7 group. During what was the first visit by a Greek foreign minister in ten years, Logar and Dendias agreed to enhance their communication in the future.
LJUBLJANA/NEW YORK, US - President Borut Pahor addressed via videoconference the UN's global summit on the sustainable development goals until 2030, saying that the "2030 Agenda offers a better future for billions of people around the world and for our planet as a whole". The virtual summit is a slimmed-down event due to Covid-19. Slovenia was selected due to its regular and transparent reporting on the implementation of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda.
LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - The Foreign Ministry sent to the OSCE the nomination of ex-Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel for the post of OSCE media rep after endorsing it earlier. However, Ricardo Gutierrez, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) general secretary, expressed concern over it, pointing to a contentious letter Rupel and former constitutional judge Peter Jambrek addressed to The Guardian after the UK paper published a critical article about Slovenian PM Janez Janša.
LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said that for Slovenia's climate strategy until 2050 to be implemented, a series of action plans coordinated between various sectors would be needed. He said it was very important that Slovenia was setting zero net emissions or climate neutrality as an objective for the mid-century.
LJUBLJANA - The 22nd consecutive Friday protests against government policies took aim at Interior Minister Aleš Hojs as he was facing the ouster motion in parliament and highlighted several environmental issues that protesters said were indicative of current government policy.
SATURDAY, 19 September
LJUBLJANA - Aleš Hojs remained interior minister after a motion of no-confidence tabled by four centre-left opposition parties was defeated in a 38-43 vote. After a meeting Hojs held with PM Janez Janša two days later, it was also clear Hojs would remain interior minister. He told the STA that Janša had returned him the envelope with his resignation, which he tendered in late June.
LJUBLJANA - The Finance Committee adopted the revised national budget for 2020 as the last parliamentary body before the plenary with the opposition voicing concern over the rising expenditure that will have to be paid eventually.
GLOBASNITZ, Austria - Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič joined his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka for a memorial ceremony in Austria's Globasnitz honouring the victims of a Nazi attack on a Slovenian farm in 1945.
LJUBLJANA - Face masks became mandatory outdoors in cases when it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres.
SUNDAY, 20 September
PARIS, France - Slovenia's rider Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), 21, crossed the finish line of the Tour de France as the winner, a historic feat for Slovenian sport. His compatriot Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), throughout the race an undisputed favourite, had to conceded overall victory to Pogačar after a surprise twist in the only time trial of the race.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Slovenia's slalom canoeist Benjamin Savšek defended his European champion title having beaten his rivals in the C1 final of the European Canoe Slalom Championships, and so did the men's C1 team.
MONDAY, 21 September
PARIS, France - President Borut Pahor held a working meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron focussing on the future of the EU, its neighbourhood, and bilateral relations. Closer cooperation was agreed, both personally and at the level of the two countries, Pahor said, announcing that "circumstances permitting", he could host Macron in Slovenia before the end of the year.
NEW YORK, US - President Borut Pahor reiterated Slovenia's commitment to multilateral cooperation in the framework of the United Nations and other international and regional organisations, as he delivered a video address to a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the organisation.
LJUBLJANA - International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach praised Slovenia as a true giant in sports, as he met some of Slovenia's athletes aspiring to attend the Tokyo Olympics. He met PM Janez Janša and Sports Minister Simona Kustec, saying the prime minister and his government were aware of the important role sport plays in society, especially during the health crisis.
LJUBLJANA - The opposition, led by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), filed a motion of no-confidence in Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec, a member of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS). The motion alleges risk of corruption, violation of integrity rules and concealment of public interest facts. DeSUS deputy group head Franc Jurša meanwhile announced the coalition would lose DeSUS's support if Pivec, who stepped down recently as DeSUS leader, remained minister.
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced more oversight over the system of social transfers as he was quizzed in parliament. Many of the loopholes in the current legislation will be fixed with changes to the foreigners act, he said.
LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - Most parties lost ground in September's Vox Populi poll, conducted by Ninamedia for the newspapers Večer and Dnevnik, but the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) remain on top, followed somewhat closer than before by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) and Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ).
LJUBLJANA - The SPS trade union, one of the two representing Slovenian police officers, called on parliament to provide a clear interpretation of an act determining the relations between the Interior Ministry and the police force. The move comes in the wake of escalating tensions between Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and police.
TUESDAY, 22 September
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj and Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik held talks with EU commissioners and Slovenian MEPs as part of preparations for Slovenia's presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2021. Cigler Kralj announced efforts to ensure a responsive labour market and quality elderly care would be the presidency's social affairs priorities, while Koritnik noted a focus on AI and digitalisation.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan stressed the importance of member states remaining united in conducting Brexit negotiations with the UK as he attended a meeting of EU affairs ministers in Brussels. He warned that the internal market bill was a grave violation of the UK's requirements stemming from the Brexit agreement.
LJUBLJANA - Education Minister Simona Kustec came under fire for appearing at a sports gala at which the guests were not wearing masks. The charity event was organised by the Slovenian Olympic Committee, featuring top Slovenian sports officials and business executives. Opposition parties as well the teachers' trade union called on the minister to step down. Kustec apologised and said she would get tested for Covid-19 out of precaution.
LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Tomaž Gantar said that about 60% of Slovenia's population or about 1.2 million people were expected to get vaccinated against Covid-19 when a vaccine becomes available. Gantar cited an internal survey showing that about 55% of employees and 69% of residents of care homes expressed the desire to be vaccinated.
BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - The European Commission gave Croatia's Fortenova a concentration approval to transfer the Slovenian retailer Mercator from insolvent Agrokor, which still needs an approval from Mercator bank creditors and the Serbian anti-trust watchdog. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek suggested the state would not oppose the transfer, provided agreement is reached with Slovenian suppliers of Mercator.
WEDNESDAY, 23 September
LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry singled out the mandatory solidarity mechanism as the main area of concern after the European Commission unveiled the draft of a new migration and asylum pact. Slovenia expected the plan "would involve more balanced proposals," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Geržina said. FM Anže Logar said earlier in the week that Slovenia would continue to oppose mandatory distribution of migrants. PM Janez Janša tweeted on Thursday that those "in Slovenia or the EU" who think they can force others into accepting migrants should first accommodate "at least two" in their own house.
LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly adopted the supplementary budget for 2020, which raises expenditure by EUR 3 billion or 29% in the face of the coronacrisis while slashing revenue by almost 15%. With a deficit of 9.3% of GDP, the budget earmarks EUR 2.6 billion, 19% of all expenditure, for measures meant to mitigate the crisis. PM Janez Janša acknowledged the deficit, at roughly EUR 4.2 billion, was high, but he added the spending was prudent and positioned the Slovenian economy for a recovery.
LJUBLJANA - The government decided to fully deregulate fuel prices in Slovenia. It said prices were unlikely to increase since new discount providers may enter the market. Some other stakeholders however voiced reservations, describing the move as a handout to oil firms at the expense of consumers. Coming in the wake of the decision was the news that Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak is being investigated by the securities market regulator for potential insider trading, having bought EUR 120,000 worth of shares of fuel company Petrol in the spring.
LJUBLJANA - IMAD, the government's macroeconomic forecaster, upgraded its GDP projections for this year. Instead of a 7.6% contraction at the annual level predicted in summer, it now expects the economy to shrink by 6.7%. However, its autumn forecast warns that uncertainty remains high. The economy is forecast to grow by 5.1% next year and by 3.7% in 2022 when it could reach pre-pandemic levels.
LJUBLJANA - Trade union representatives walked out of a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ESS) amidst a debate on new anti-coronavirus legislation. The unions' proposal that the government adopt only the measures which have been coordinated with social partners at the coming session was turned down, said Jakob Počivavšek of the Pergam association.
LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left tabled a bill in a bid to levy a 7% digital services tax on multinational tech companies, which generate EUR 100 million in turnover in Slovenia per year but pay almost zero tax. Given that their turnover is expected to continue to rise, the Left's leader Luka Mesec said that the tax could raise some EUR 10 million for the budget next year.
STRASBOURG, France - The Croatian, German and Serbian languages should be recognised as minority languages traditionally spoken in Slovenia, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe said in its latest recommendations. It also called for sufficient funding for television programmes in the Hungarian and Italian languages and for fostering the Roma language.
LJUBLJANA - The government decided to relax the recently imposed 10:30pm curfew on bars and restaurants. The guests of establishments that serve "simple food, drinks and beverages", such as bars or patisseries, will have 30 minutes to leave the establishment and the guests of establishments serving "more complex dishes" will have an hour to clear out.
LJUBLJANA - Day of Slovenian Sports was marked for the first time in memory of the first Olympic gold medals won for the independent country in Sydney in 2000. Addressing the main ceremony in Ljubljana's Congress Square, President Borut Pahor noted the importance of sports for health, the country's promotion and for national unity.
THURSDAY, 24 September
LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed the fifth stimulus package. Chief among the measures is an extension of the furlough scheme until year's end for all industries. The eligibility criteria will however be stricter, Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said. The package also includes universal basic income for sole traders, and extra funding for health services. Moreover the power to issue fines for violations of protective measures is meant to be extended from the Health Inspectorate to the police and municipal wardens.
LJUBLJANA/NEW YORK, US - Addressing the first ever virtual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Assembly session, President Borut Pahor argued for effective multilateralism, concluding his speech by quoting novelist Boris Pahor, who says humanity has enough wisdom and power to lead the world out of crisis.
LJUBLJANA - Addressing an online ministerial of the Central European Initiative (CEI), Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Slovenia deemed important solidarity in the EU and the integrity of the internal market, and supported further EU enlargement as well as a coordinated approach to relaxing coronavirus restrictions and restarting the European economy.
BRUSSELS, Belgium/BERLIN, Germany - Slovenia is among the worst offenders in the EU to have disproportionately restricted freedoms during the Covid-19 pandemic, said a report by Greenpeace and Civil Liberties Union for Europe. It noted that the Slovenian government was among several to have used the fight against the pandemic as an excuse to limit criticism of the administration.
LJUBLJANA - In a 48:1 vote, the National Assembly backed opposition-sponsored changes to two laws in a bid to limit the activities of self-styled militias which first upset the public two years ago. 35 MPs abstained from voting on what is a second attempt to criminalise uniformed groups parading with what are believed to be replica guns.
PORTOROŽ - President Borut Pahor called for necessary structural reforms, addressing the opening of the Manager Congress. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek meanwhile highlighted the role of the Managers' Association's action plan to increase productivity, warning that such efforts would necessitate a wider social agreement.
LJUBLJANA - Mercator Group sales revenue increased by 4.4% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, to reach EUR 1.06 billion. Due to the revaluation of property and impairments of other assets, and the effects of Covid-19, the retail group posted a loss of EUR 69.2 million in the January-June period. These factors excluded, the group would record a profit of EUR 86,000 on EBITDA that was up by 1.7% year-on-year to EUR 83.4 million.
LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court announced it had recently suspended the culling of 115 brown bears until its final decision. The relevant permit was issued in June by the Environment Agency (ARSO) for the period until the end of September for several areas in Slovenia where human-bear conflicts are very frequent.