STA, 7 November 2018 - Slovenia's opposition leader Janez Janša addressed the European People Party's (EPP) congress in Helsinki on Wednesday, calling for unity in defence of the foundations of European democracy against internal and external threats.
The leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), one of around 15 European centre-right party leaders to address the event, said this was a moment in time which called for defence of the foundations of European civilisation from within and from the outside world.
As internal threats Janša described pressures by various forms of "cultural Marxism" that were trying to dismantle the family, national and European identity, private property, private education and religion.
From the outside, the European civilisation is facing a massive and increasing demographic pressure on ageing Europe, Janša said, adding this was used as a political weapon by the radical Islam.
"A combination of the two threats at the moment poses the biggest danger to the European civilisation since the collapse of the Soviet Union," said Janša.
He said defence of the European civilisation's foundations was the most pressing task for the EPP, which was the only group strong enough to lead the defence based on common values.
Čeprav ni in nikoli ne bo enotne evropske nacionalne kulture, evropska civilizacija obstaja že stoletja. Vsaka civilizacija je stalno podvržena izzivom. Pridejo tudi časi, ko so ogroženi njeni lastni temelji in ko jih je treba braniti. Zdaj živimo v takšnem trenutku. #Up2Eu pic.twitter.com/PGeagDlQI6— Janez Janša (@JJansaSDS) November 7, 2018
“Although there is no and there will never be a single European national culture, the European civilisation has been there for centuries. Every civilisation is constantly subject to challenges. There are also times when their own foundations are threatened and when they are to be defended. Now we live in a moment like this. “
"The defence of the very core of our civilisation is the most important priority and the noblest goal that we must be united on. We belong to the European People's Party so it's our duty to fight for a united, strong and free Europe and to provide security, opportunity and a predictable future to the Europeans.
"If voters in Europe see and feel our unity and resolve, the EPP will win the next European election with a landslide," Janša said.
STA, 7 November 2018 - Representatives of the government and municipalities on Wednesday signed a letter of intent that sets municipal funding provided by the state at EUR 573.5 per capita. The pledge was also made to draw up legislative changes within six months that will help reduce the costs carried by municipalities.
Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj signed on behalf of the government, while the heads of the three associations of municipalities, Branko Ledinek, Robert Smrdelj and Matej Arčon, signed on behalf of local government.
Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who was also on hand, said municipalities had hoped for more, but an agreement was reached as they understood the general financial picture in the country.
The per-capita funding figure is a source of tensions each year. The government and municipalities were still relatively far apart in October, with the former proposing EUR 570 per capita and the latter at least EUR 575.44.
Šarec announced this was only the first step in improved cooperation between the government and municipalities. The plan is to also work together in an upgrade of relevant legislation, which is plagued by various issues that the PM finds more burning than per capita funding.
Šarec, who served as the mayor of Kamnik until recently, said few people could really imagine all the tasks municipalities were dealing with.
"This government understands this very well," he said, announcing a joint effort to secure "legislation that will allow them to develop more effectively, while also securing transparency".
The EUR 573.5 figure, which remains to be confirmed by the government and by parliament, was welcomed by the municipal representatives, who spoke of a compromise. Smrdelj said it is 20 euros higher than the funding for this year but still 35 euros below the projected costs for 2019.
The funding provided by the state is meant for a range of services municipalities are obliged to carry out by law, such as primary school, primary healthcare and social security services.
The funds provided by the government for local government are known as "povprečnina", whose main source is personal income tax.
The amount a municipality receives a year is calculated as an annual lump sum per capita and transferred from the state budget.
STA, 6 November 2018 - The opposition Democrats (Slovenska demokratska stranka - SDS) have requested an extraordinary session of the National Assembly to debate the UN-sponsored global compact for migration. MP Branko Grims said Tuesday the party demands the Slovenian government reject the agreement in its entirety.
The SDS is against the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration because "it treats all migrants in the same way, and eliminates state borders in the long-term".
The party fears the agreement would present a burden for Slovenia in terms of finances and in general, and would result in a downfall of Slovenia as well as other European countries, according to Grims.
He stressed that an increasing number of countries had already withdrawn from it, including the US and three of Slovenia's four neighbours.
See our guide to Slovenia’s main political parties here
Saying that the agreement is not binding on Slovenia is misleading, according to Grims. While it is true that parties to it are not legally bound by the deal, they are bound by it politically, he stressed.
Signatures for the request of the parliamentary session were contributed by another two opposition parties, New Slovenia (NSi) and the National Party (SNS).
Jožef Horvat, who heads the NSi's deputy group, told the press the government should not support the deal because it does not address the issue of how to eliminate the causes of migrations.
The NSi would like the National Assembly to pass a resolution recommending that the government "encourage seeking within EU and UN institutions a solution to eliminate the causes of migrations in source countries".
Slovenia had endorsed the drafting of the agreement, but the Foreign Ministry stressed on Monday that it was not binding and that it gave countries' sovereignty to shape their own migration policies.
The document, the first international agreement on migration management aimed at improving cooperation on this issue, will be adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco, next month.
See all our stories on immigration in Slovenia here
STA, 4 November 2018 - Slovenia is among the least influential countries in the EU, but it is also deeply committed to integration, according to study by European Council on Foreign Relations, a London think-tank.
Slovenia placed alongside Latvia, Malta and Croatia as the country with the least influence on EU policy, with the four countries tied at 25th place among 28 member states.
Slovenia is also 25th along with Bulgaria, Croatia and Malta in terms how influential it is in general in the bloc.
The study, called EU Coalition Explorer, singles out Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands as the most influential countries overall.
Slovenia ranked high when it comes to fighting for deeper integration, placing 14th and beating the likes of Sweden and Finland.
When it comes to priorities, Slovenia is most active in common asylum policy, single fiscal policy, single market and single eurozone supervision.
Indeed, it is the most vocal advocate of the notion that all member states should be involved in a single fiscal policy.
Overall, Slovenia is of the opinion that the majority of common policies should be shaped by all member states.
It sees Germany as its best partner in policy making, followed by France and Italy.
Slovenia also ranks high, in 16th place, among countries that disappointed the least in the past two years; Hungary is seen as the country that disappointed the most.
The ECFR compiled the survey, which was released earlier this week, based on questions posed to 877 experts from all member states who are active in EU policy, be it in media, government or institutions.
You can find a PDF of the full study here – it’s 1113 pages long
STA, 3 November 2018 - Andrej Šiško, the leader of a self-proclaimed local para-military formation, will remain in custody after the Supreme Court upheld the argument of lower courts that he represents a danger to the constitutional order.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect formed a para-military unit and called for the formation of other militias across Slovenia that would, when the time is right, bring down the highest authorities of the state," the Supreme Court.
The decision, announced on Friday, comes in response to an appeal by the defence, which argued that Šiško's conduct did not amount to instigation to the subversion of the constitutional order, the crime Šiško is suspected of.
Save for a brief intermission, Šiško has been in detention since early September, a week after video surfaced of him lining up several dozen men, some armed, wearing balaclavas and conducting what appeared to be basic military training.
Šiško, a former ultras who served prison for attempted murder, has argued that this was a provocation meant to disclose how Slovenian media work, but at the same time he called for the establishment of other such militias around the country.
The Supreme Court said the suspect's conduct, from the utterance of a threat against then Prime Minister Miro Cerar in January 2017 to the formation of the para-military unit, was sufficient at this point in proceedings to warrant his detention.
In making the decision, the court went against the argument of the prosecution, which held that whether Šiško should be remanded in detention should be re-examined by lower courts.
The prosecution's 27 September opinion caused uproar. It was penned by Supreme State Prosecutor Barbara Brezigar, who has for years been close to the opposition Democrats (SDS) and once ran for president with their support; one of Šiško's co-defendants was a member of the SDS's youth wing.
While Šiško is in detention, the investigation continues. Darko Simonič, the head of the Maribor branch of the State Prosecution, told the STA earlier this week that additional witnesses would be interviewed next week.
Šiško has been active in politics for years and ran in last year's presidential election. This year he is one of 18 candidates for mayor of Maribor.
STA, 3 November 2018 - President Borut Pahor held up peace and the persistent building of democracy as ways of countering fascism as he responded to a far right manifestation in Trieste on Saturday.
"In the previous century, three totalitarianisms left behind a terrible trail of suffering, including fascism, which they plan on reviving at the rally in Trieste today."
"We can counter them by persistently building democracy, which facilitates the freedom of speech and the expression of different beliefs but not the freedom of hatred," he wrote in a message on Twitter.
He warned that peace and democracy may not be taken for granted and are not passed down genetically, they are handed down with actions.
"We have the right to freedom, but that freedom is circumscribed with the freedom of others. Let us therefore act tolerantly and build harmony, within and among nations," he said.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor: pic.twitter.com/dCbBmOMN3H— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) November 3, 2018
In a separate tweet, Pahor said that he would expound on this issue at a speech marking the centenary of the end of WWI he plans to deliver at Žale Cemetery on Friday.
His statements come in reaction to a rally by the extremist CasaPound group in Trieste, which ostensibly marks the centenary of the end of WWI but is seen as a show of force of a resurgent extreme right.
A counter-rally was staged today by anti-fascist groups.
Other Slovenian officials, including Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Speaker Dejan Židan, have expressed concern about the far-right rally.
STA, 3 November 2018 - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan expressed concern ahead of a rally by Italian far right group CasaPound in Trieste, arguing that the rise of neo-fascism risked undermining good cross-border cooperation.
"Fascism needs to be resisted - with tolerance, cooperation and courage. We have to be harbingers of cooperation and reject practices that had caused so much evil in Slovenia and Europe," he said in a video message posted on Twitter.
He said he was "concerned to see neo-fascists rallying, concerned about the lack of condemnation of neo-fascism, not least because this is not a phenomenon confined to a single country."
Židan's statement came ahead of a rally in Trieste that it seen as a showcase of resurgent far-right extremism in the country. The rally was condemned yesterday by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec.
Slovenian officials have been urged to reach by the Slovenian minority in Italy, which fears that the sentiment, though ostensibly targeted at unchecked migration, may end up being channelled against members of the minority.
STA, 2 November 2018 - A neo-fascist rally scheduled to take place in Trieste, Italy on Saturday has raised concern in Slovenia, with fear being voiced in particular about the impact rising far-right sentiment will have on the Slovenian ethnic community living in the area.
Prime Minister Marjan Šarec described the rally by the far-right CasaPound as "salt on the never healed wounds of the Primorska Slovenians in the homeland and in the diaspora." "Fascism has always been evil incarnate, and it may not be supported!" he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Tigr Primorske, an association dedicated to preserving the memory of a pre-WWII anti-fascist organisation called TIGR, has issued a call to President Borut Pahor to caution his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella about the possible instigation of hatred.
The Slovenian government, meanwhile, should let the Italian authorities and the EU know that the rally in Trieste "insults the emotions and the tradition of the resistance," thereby denying the very concept of post-war Europe, the organisation said in a press release on Friday.
The office of President Pahor said the president had already spoken up about some similar events in Italy, while also telling Mattarella during their last meeting that nationalist statements were being met with concern and opposition in Slovenia.
Mattarella will speak in Trieste on Sunday "and president Pahor expects that he will respond if needed," his office said.
In a similar vein, the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) designated the scheduled rally as an event that should never happen because it celebrates an ideology that resulted in "crime and tragedy in the previous century."
"The centenary of the end of WWI should serve as an appeal to peace, coexistence and compassion, not as a reason for renewed glorification of chilling and dangerous ideas," the party said.
The appeals come in response to the rally by CasaPound, a far-right neo-fascist movement that has been gaining momentum in north Italy.
The local authorities have not banned the rally despite numerous appeals to do so, but they restricted the path of the march so that it does not come close to some of the landmarks that are significant for the Slovenian ethnic community, including the Narodni Dom and the monument to the Basovizza heroes.
The Slovenian community living in and around Trieste has recently warned that the atmosphere in Italy is so toxic it could not be ignored, with CasaPound by no means the only demonstration thereof.
The Slovenian Cultural and Economic Union (SKGZ), one of the minority's biggest organisations in Italy, said earlier this week it was no longer possible to look the other way.
To counter the CasaPound rally, several anti-fascist organisations have announced a counter-rally in Trieste that is expected to draw several thousand people. Many members of the Slovenian community in Trieste are expected to to attend the counter-protest.
The covers and editorials from weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, November 02, 2018.
STA - The left-leaning weekly Mladina compares the stances of Slovenia and Iceland towards NATO in its latest editorial, commenting that while Slovenia is servile and wants to cosy up to the alliance by buying armament, Iceland is sovereign and does not pretend it could have a serious army.
Iceland is a founding member of NATO, it has been in the alliance since 1949, but it does not have a standing army. Instead it has a coastal guard with several aircraft and ships.
"This is the country's reach. It does not buy weapons, it simply gives money and staff to NATO. Not only because it is a pacifist country, but because it is rational: small armies have no real military power in relation to the power of all serious armies," editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says on Friday.
Turning to Slovenia, Repovž argues that the violent weather this week again demonstrated that Slovenia would do better to suitably equip its civil protection.
It should buy helicopters rather than "make the biggest armament purchase in the history of Slovenia" and buy new tanks, whose only function will be to cosy up to NATO and US President Donald Trump, and to collect dust.
Does anything happen to Iceland, which refuses to buy weapons, Repovž wonders. No, the country acts autonomously. "It does not whine about being too small to stand up to such a big organisation. And there are only 330,000 [Icelanders]."
"The sovereignty of a country does not depend on the number of ageing tanks in the barracks and the speed of its nodding, but on its stance," Repovž concludes under Not State, Stance.
STA - After the rejection of an ECHR ruling by the Slovenian Supreme Court, the right-leaning weekly Reporter says in its latest commentary that the judiciary is a "cancerous tissue" in the Slovenian society.
Under the headline Junta from the Supreme Court, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla says that whoever had to deal with Slovenian courts could witness how dysfunctional the third branch of power in the country is.
Not only lengthy proceedings are the problem. The problem is in judges themselves (not all of them), who perform their job poorly and with bias and don't even care a straw about the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
"In the safe haven of life tenure, some of them are obviously allowed to do everything they please. Almost no judge is held accountable for unjust rulings, which eventually get annulled at higher instances," Šurla adds.
He notes that "something unheard-of" happened last week, as the Supreme Court said that it would simply not honour the ruling of the ECHR in the case Pro Plus against Slovenia, as it had not been convinced by its arguments.
Reporter notes that a group of respectable law experts, both liberal and conservative, had labelled such an act as completely arbitrary and contravening the fundamental values of the European constitutional space and the Slovenian Constitution.
They added that it was also jeopardising the regional system of the protection of human rights following the model of authoritarian countries such as Turkey and Russia.
"How could ordinary citizens be expected to respect the decisions of courts if the Supreme Court does not?! This is a world upside down," concludes the commentary.
STA, 30 October 2018 - The new Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec has told the STA Slovenia would not be able to handle and will resist the envisaged 15% cut in the EU rural development funding. The list of her plans meanwhile includes less red tape for farmers, increasing self-sufficiency and more focus on organic farming.
Pivec hopes the cut in rural development funding as part of the EU common agricultural policy for 2021-2027 will end up being less than 10%.
"We absolutely cannot accept the envisaged cut, since it would substantially affect our ability to reach goals," she said.
The minister indicated that Slovenia would find it easier to stomach a greater cut in the direct payment pillar of CAP, where funding would be slashed by 4% in line with the original proposal.
She meanwhile noted that the new financial perspective would leave more room for initiative to member states and she for instance sees this as an opportunity to reduce the administrative burdens for farmers.
"This presents a big problem on the ground. Farmers have a hard time getting to the funds, certain segments are so complicated as to discourage them from applying and the controls are also very demanding," the agriculture, food and forestry minister said.
"Simplifications are being drawn up, the first measures are already being implemented and some results should be felt on the ground as early as December."
The key rural development goals listed by the minister meanwhile also include the preservation of farms, the reduction of risks related to climate change, and addressing demographic and educational issues at farms.
"A dual approach is needed: the young need to be provided with funds to take over the farms, while older farmers also need decent social security to be able to pass on the farms to the young," said Pivec, mentioning the need to fix what are objectively low pensions for farmers.
She feels that the European Social Fund offers a good opportunity to address these issues and to mitigate the effects of the CAP cuts.
Meanwhile, Pivec feels that raising self-sufficiency and responding to climate change will also require technological upgrades at farms, as well as a change in the choice of crops.
"These changes will be painful for some. We have a very tradition-oriented agriculture and to a certain degree it should stay this way, since this is an important aspect in terms of the preservation of the environment, the cultural landscape," she said, but added that there would be no way around certain changes.
Pivec feels that climate change is also one of the reasons for the low self-sufficiency rates for fruits and vegetables, at 21% and 39% respectively last year, with the risks involved being much higher than in livestock farming.
While better protective measures and irrigations systems will be necessary, the minister also sees major opportunities for organic farming.
She pointed out that 85% of Slovenian farms were located in what was termed as less-favoured areas and organic farming could be a solution.
Of the roughly 70,000 farms in the country, 3,635 are presently organic, covering 46,000 hectares. The goal is 5,000 on 50,000 hectares, she said.
Organic farming would also help tackle the low buy-back prices for food products, an issue across the EU, while Pivec also sees a solution in producers working together more closely and thus also achieving more in price negotiations.
STA, 23 October 2018 - Slovenia recorded the sharpest decrease in general government debt in the EU in the second quarter of the year, show the latest figures released by Eurostat.
STA, 22 October 2018 - A small municipality at the foot of the Karavanke mountain range is in for an interesting election race, as two mayoral candidates are ex-prisoners. Pavel Rupar will try to get back to Town Hall after more than a decade, while Duško Krupljanin is on trial for having attacked a police officer.