Politics

23 Jul 2021, 17:48 PM

STA, 23 July 2021 - Following a report that PM Janez Janša has been holidaying in Mauritius with representatives of the largest healthcare suppliers in Slovenia for years, part of the opposition has demanded a debate in parliament. On the other hand, the prime minister's office noted that Janša had never been on the island when he served as prime minister.

It was reported by the web portal Necenzurirano on Friday that Janša has been holidaying on the exotic island east of Madagascar for almost 20 years, playing golf and socialising with lobbyist Božo Dimnik and entrepreneur Andrej Marčič.

Marčič is the owner and director of the IT company Marand, which together with affiliated companies has generated in the last 20 years more than EUR 100 million in turnover with budget users alone.

Janša's son Žan was reportedly employed in one of his companies for several years, according to Necenzurirano.

Dimnik is also an entrepreneur and lobbyist. The company Medias International, which is owned by his daughter Diana, and which sells medical equipment and material, has generated EUR 200 million in turnover with health institutions in Slovenia.

The prime minister's office reacted to the report by telling the STA Janša had played golf in Mauritius several times, "which is publicly known and has been published many times. He was never in Mauritius during the time when he was prime minister."

Necenzurirano noted that the ruling Democrats (SDS), which is headed by Janša, had been publicly warning about systemic corruption in healthcare and forming parliamentary inquiry commissions regarding purchase of medical equipment.

This is what opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deputy Jerca Korče also noted in her statement to the press, adding that the "SDS has been selling us for all those years the story about tentacles and corruption and cronyism in healthcare."

It is more than obvious that they have only been diverting attention from the fact that they themselves are the core of the deep state," she added.

The LMŠ will thus call a session of the parliamentary Public Finance Oversight Commission, which according to Korče should look into the deals made at the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic with "one of the golf friends of Prime Minister Janša".

The commission should also establish how the contract with the Secretariat-General of the Government had been concluded, and what impact Janša's holidaying with the supplier had on the conclusion of this contract.

According to Korče, the matter should be also examined by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption and the Court of Audit.

The LMŠ deputy said that for someone who has been holding public offices for many years it was "important who are you spending your holidays with and what are the consequences of such holidays".

Korče added that the story featured too many connected facts that one could say that it was only a coincidence.

Violeta Tomić of the Left also announced a strong reaction from the opposition. She said that "always when Janša is in power, public money pours into the pockets of friends and people with the party membership", while at the same time they are establishing inquiry commissions and talking about zero tolerance to corruption in healthcare.

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) meanwhile said on Twitter that it now depended only on New Slovenia (NSi) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) "how long the National Assembly will tolerate severe corruption risks".

"Janez Janša making a mockery of the state may be ended either by elections or vote of no confidence. We can only hope that interference in the police has not hampered prosecution of corruption," the party added.

22 Jul 2021, 11:51 AM

STA, 21 July 2021 - Anže Erbežnik has voiced harsh criticism of the situation at the Ministry of Justice and of his former boss in his letter of resignation as a state secretary a day after his resignation was made public, saying he stepped down because he was unable to work respecting EU law, the rule of law and human rights.

"As to the key issue of European delegated prosecutors, the ministry is trying to cover up for its own mistakes in the past unsuccessful appointment procedure, such as by censoring legal explanations to the media and other stakeholders," he says in the letter, published by the newspaper Delo on Wednesday.

"This prevents appropriate communication and the resolution of the issue of the prosecutors in a lawful and amicable way, without a legal dispute. There is even a threat of a legal action by the European Commission," he says about Slovenia still not having named its European delegated prosecutors.

He says the issue has caused the ministry's main responsibilities to be on the back burner, such as extraditions to third countries where in his view the ministry in some cases does not honour commitments under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and is trying to extradite individuals to third countries despite the risk of them being subjected to torture, and inhumane or humiliating conduct.

He goes on to say that no one at the ministry is interested in the anti-Semitism strategy and expert services are reluctant to take it on due to unresponsiveness by the political leadership.

In Erbežnik's view the EU is in a serious existential crisis, which he says is being manifested in the judiciary through conflicts between the EU Court and certain national constitutional courts, differing interpretations of Article 4 of the Treaty of EU over the concept of national identity and the rule of law, and over whether payments be made conditional on the rule of law.

"Presidency in such a situation is not and cannot be a technical presidency, but a serious substantive presiding over an attempt to solve those issues as the bloc's future existence could depend on it."

Erbežnik accuses Minister Marjan Dikaučič of lacking a basic command of EU law. "I believe it is utterly irresponsible if the minister is leading demanding criminal law trilogue/negotiations that deal directly with cross-border sharing of sensitive electronic information, without having a basic knowledge of such a complex instrument and not knowing about the basics of EU criminal justice."

Given the lack of expertise, Erbežnik believes the ministry's leadership is not in a position to establish an appropriate leadership of the administration, so that instead the administration runs the ministry and the minister.

"I can also not take part in leading a ministry where there is a potential intertwinement of the minister's private interests and legal disputes and the ministry's individual decisions (such as in the case of notary positions)," says Erbežnik.

Justice Minister Dikaučič told the STA on Tuesday the state secretary had resigned due to "diverging views on the management of the portfolio and the role of the state secretary".

He told TV Slovenija tonight that Erbežnik's claims were fabricated and "say more about the author", adding that Erbežnik appears not to have accepted the fact that the minister is in charge of the ministry.

In an interview for POP TV, Dikaučič added Erbežnik had not contributed substantively to the ministry's work and implied that Erbežnik was more interested in self-promotion than the ministry's reputation.

22 Jul 2021, 11:41 AM

STA, 21 July 2021 - The Administrative Court has granted the STA's request to stay the implementation of the regulation adopted by the government in June that introduces detailed rules governing the public service provided by the STA and its financing, which the STA is challenging on the grounds of its being unlawful.

While the court is yet to decide substantively on the suit brought by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), it decided to suspend its implementation pending a final decision arguing the arguments and documents presented by the STA indicate the likelihood of the agency sustaining damage that would be hard to repair if the challenged regulation was enforced.

The court notes that in arguing its case the STA has proved it has not received any payment for the public service this year from the government as defendant, where the Government Communication Office (UKOM) argues the reason for non-payment is that it has not signed any agreement with the plaintiff and has thus assumed no liability for payment.

The court also accepted as valid the agency's argument that the government or UKOM on its behalf is trying to force the agency into singing an agreement based on the regulation it is challenging with the threat of continued non-financing.

Since appropriate financing of the public service is essential for the agency to continue as a going concern, the court upheld the STA's argument that with the enforcement of the regulation the agency would sustain hard to repair damage.

The court established that with revenue from commercial services alone, the STA cannot cover even labour expenses, let alone other expenses, which could lead to its insolvency and ultimately to bankruptcy.

The court notes that STA financing is regulated in Article 20 of the STA act, thus the government as the defendant cannot invoke the challenged regulation as a means by which it would authorize UKOM to provide financing to the STA or that potential suspension of the regulation would stay all procedures as UKOM's powers would cease.

In response to the government's argument that the STA's existence is no longer jeopardised after the STA sold its claims against the founder, the court says only one monthly claim from May 2021 has been sold, which given the agency's dire financial state does not yet mean it is not facing the threat of hard to repair damage.

STA director Bojan Veselinovič hailed the court's decision as "yet another confirmation by the judicial branch of power that the government should have financed us long ago, an obligation imposed on it by 7th Covid relief act".

The act stipulates that the government provide financing to the STA this year in accordance with the agency's business plan regardless of whether an agreement has been signed or not.

"Nevertheless, the STA has been negotiating on its content, but not in ill faith like UKOM, which has drawn up a wording of the agreement without taking into consideration any of our key remarks. It was sent to us on Tuesday afternoon with an ultimatum for us to sign it by today, which suggests that the plaintiff may have been notified of the court's decision by then," said Veselinovič.

Since the proposed agreement was based on a regulation that was now stayed, the STA management will in a formal response to UKOM today call for financing to be provided immediately in line with the law.

Veselinovič said that the STA will also demand of UKOM to pay the promised advance even before the resumption of new talks, without setting any conditions, saying the agency's future is at stake.

The STA has notified the European Commission and international public on the latest developments.

Responding to the court's decision, UKOM rejected Veselinovič's claim that the STA's remarks had not been taken into account, arguing that several remarks had been included in the agreement.

It also said the STA continued to flaunt its public service obligation by refusing to let any media use content published as part of the public service, which is "a clear violation of the law".

The STA has argued in the negotiations that its public service license does not amount to other media being able to simply republish content without payment, it merely meant certain content was not paywalled.

According to UKOM, the proposed agreement would have released funding, but this is not possible now, which is why it has had to reject the request for payment of the public service fee for June.

A new agreement can be signed once it is "adjusted to the new circumstances" and assuming the STA recognises UKOM as the representative of the founder, it said.

Before the government regulation was adopted, UKOM was not explicitly named as the government entity responsible for the STA, a point invoked by the STA in its refusal to hand over the documentation UKOM had requested. Once the regulation named UKOM as the entity responsible, it received the requested documentation.

21 Jul 2021, 16:37 PM

STA, 20 July - The European Commission's second Rule of Law Report, released on Tuesday, raises concerns over Slovenia's failure to appoint on time its European delegated prosecutors. The situation of media freedom and pluralism in Slovenia has been deteriorating, the report warns, highlighting threats against journalists and the STA situation.

The annual report is also critical of Slovenia for what it sees as the "unjustifiably delayed" appointments of state prosecutors.

"The Slovenian justice system has seen some positive developments, including on issues raised in the 2020 Rule of law Report," the Commission said, pointing to a Constitutional Court ruling that declared parliamentary inquiry rules unconstitutional due to a lack of safeguards against encroachment on judicial independence.

Meanwhile, "challenges in proceedings relating to economic and financial crime cases remain", says the report, noting that the pandemic had exposed the need to step up distance communication tools in judiciary.

The Commission also sees further improvements in the legal and institutional frameworks for preventing and fighting corruption and protecting whistleblowers, saying that the independence and work of the Slovenian Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) have improved.

However, the anti-graft watchdog's shortage in human resources remains as do concerns over the effective enforcement of the anti-corruption rules. The Commission is also concerned over "the low number of convictions for corruption cases, especially for high-level instances".

When it comes to the situation of Slovenian media, the report highlights some alarming trends, warning that "online harassment of and threats against journalists are a growing source of concern, and several lawsuits against journalists with intimidating effects have been reported".

It also notes that concerns have been raised by Slovenian and foreign stakeholders due to "the refusal by the authorities to finance the Slovenian Press Agency for 2021".

The Commission points out that the independence of the media regulator or the Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS) is ensured by law "but challenges remain regarding resources for its broad spectrum of tasks and commitment to further strengthen its independence".

The report also notes that the Slovenian Constitutional Court has improved its efficiency compared to the situation found in the first such report, released in September 2020, and has "played an active role in reviewing Covid-19 measures".

Civil society has meanwhile had to cope with several challenges that affect the work of NGOs, says the latest report.

The annual Rule of Law reports aim to be a preventive measure acknowledging challenges and seeking solutions. They focus on four pillars - judiciary, the national anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and media freedom, and the checks and balances system, taking into account the impact of Covid-19.

The primary aim of the latest Rule of Law Report was to de-escalate tensions among EU member states and dismiss allegations of double standards in assessing the situation in individual EU countries.

The Commission mostly sums up facts and assessments, but refrains from taking a stand in the reports. Unveiling the second report, the Commission even refrained from stating whether the rule of law situation had either improved or worsened across the EU or in individual member states.

The Slovenian EU presidency will lead dialogue among member states based on the latest report in the coming months.

A general debate on the situation of the rule of law in the entire EU is scheduled for October, whereas in November, the discussion will be dedicated to the situation in five member states whose turn it is according to alphabetical order - Italy, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia and Lithuania.

A PDF of the full report

21 Jul 2021, 12:14 PM

STA, 20 July 2021 - Presenting the 2021 Rule of Law Report, European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova and Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders called on the Slovenian authorities on Tuesday to ensure a stable financing of the STA. Reynders pointed to potential measures in the wake of Slovenia's non-appointment of European delegated prosecutors come autumn.

Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Jourova noted that she had openly criticised the precarious funding of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) on a number of occasions. The STA provides public service and in line with Slovenian law such service should receive a stable financing so that journalists could do their work, she said.

The Commission is closely monitoring the situation. "We expect the Slovenian authorities will resume a stable financing," she told the press conference.

Jourova also commented on the recent campaign raising donations for the STA, saying that she liked the project, but as commissioner she also needed to stress that such a solution was not systemic and was as such unwelcome.

She said that the Commission's swift response in April to approve EUR 2.5 million in state aid to the STA, based on Slovenia's notification of these funds, showed Brussels believed it was key to provide sufficient funding for the agency.

Commissioner for Justice Reynders also highlighted the importance of a stable STA financing. According to him, the Commission insisted that the agency receive appropriate funding when it visited Slovenia at the start of the country's EU presidency.

Reynders again urged Slovenia to appoint its two European delegated prosecutors as soon as possible. If this will not happen, he will decide on measures post summer, he said.

The second Rule of Law Report raises concerns over Slovenia's failure to appoint prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor's Office as well as over "unjustified delay" in appointing state prosecutors.

The Commission also voiced concern in the report about the deteriorating situation of media freedom and pluralism in Slovenia, warning about "online harassment of and threats against journalists" and lawsuits aimed at intimidating journalists.

Responding to the release of the report, European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, who comes from Slovenia, told the STA that the Commission's main message in the report was to highlight serious concerns about the rule of law in Slovenia, particularly when it comes to the independence of prosecutors and media.

He highlighted the urgency of ensuring the STA's independence. "This is about two things - financing and preserving independence," he said, noting that the Commission was also clear in letting the Slovenian authorities know that the financing of the STA hence could not be subject to reducing its autonomy.

Asked why the report uses relatively mild warnings in the case of the STA funding given that the Commission has been known to voice concerns about the situation in a more direct manner, Lenarčič said that the report was straightforward in stating there is no funding for the agency even though it is required by law.

The report is mostly seen as a set of early-stage warnings, but if the situation in individual member states does not improve, the Commission has several mechanisms at its disposal to take action, he said.

Responding on Twitter, Prime Minister Janez Janša described Lenarčič's comments as political, adding that he had joined some individuals within the Commission who were trying to set conditions for EU recovery funds for Slovenia. "Luckily he remained a minority. It's the first known example of a commissioner trying to harm his own country directly," Janša tweeted.

20 Jul 2021, 13:40 PM

STA, 20 July 2021 - A group of 40 MPs led by the Left has tabled legislation revoking the requirement that foreign students must provide upfront proof of sufficient funding for their entire stay in Slovenia, which was enacted in May and has reportedly led to many students being unable to get temporary residency permits.

The amendments to the act on aliens enacted in May "prevent students already in Slovenia from continuing their studies, and prevent new students from enrolling in university," Left MP Primož Siter said on Tuesday.

The move comes in the aftermath of media reports showing that foreign students were having trouble proving their financial situation, even as the Interior Ministry claimed nothing had changed except the type of evidence they must present.

Siter said the legislation had unduly tightened conditions for studying in Slovenia by requiring students prove they have at least EUR 5,000 on their bank account, an amount he said was impossible for many to secure.

Previous legislation merely required that students present a statement from their parents to the effect that they will finance their children for the duration of their stay in Slovenia.

The motion to revoke the requirement has been signed by centre-left opposition deputy groups and the MP for the Italian minority.

19 Jul 2021, 16:22 PM

STA, 19 July 2021 - The latest Vox Populi poll, commissioned by the dailies Dnevnik and Večer, shows that the rating of the Janez Janša government has hit its lowest point so far. The ruling Democrats (SDS) nevertheless remain in the lead, followed by the opposition SocDems and the Left.

The government's rating is at an all-time low with 71.9% of respondents rating it is not doing its job well, 5.8 points more than last month. The government's work was rated as successful by 26% of respondents, which is 3.8 points less than in June, shows the poll released on Monday.

The SDS polled at 18.2%, down 0.9 points over the month before. The Social Democrats (SD) are in second place with 12,7%, up from 12.1% in June, trailed by the opposition Left in third at 10.1%, a three-point gain month-on-month.

The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) is in fourth place with 9.2%, gaining 0.4% on June, followed by the coalition New Slovenia (NSi), which lost almost two percentage points to 4.7%. The opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) got 3.6%, almost the same as in June.

The party rankings are completed by the People's Party (SLS) at 1.1%, the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at 0.7%, the National Party (SNS) at 0.6% and the Modern Centre Party (SMC) at 0.3%. All of them saw their ratings slip.

The share of undecided voters decreased by almost a full percentage point, from 30.5% to 29.6%, and the share of those who would not cast their ballot at all was the same as in June.

According to the poll, if there were an election now, the SDS would secure 28 seats in parliament, the SD 19, the Left 15, the LMŠ 14, the NSi seven and the SAB five.

Former NSi president and MEP Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) remains the most popular Slovenian politician. President Borut Pahor, who had been a long-standing favourite in this category, is now in second place, followed by the Speaker of the National Assembly Igor Zorčič.

The poll was conducted by pollster Ninamedia between 13 and 15 July among 700 respondents.

19 Jul 2021, 10:40 AM

STA, 19 July 2021 - A high-profile ceremony at the Prilozje air strip near the town of Metlika in the south-east of the country will mark the first Slovenia-Israel Friendship Day on Monday in memory of the joint fight against Nazism and Fascism in World War II. Slovenia's president Borut Pahor and Israeli Ambassador Eyal Sela will be in attendance.

The event, marking the centenary of the birth of Israeli hero and poet Hannah Szenes, who parachuted into the Bela Krajina region on a mission during WWII, will be addressed by President Pahor as the keynote speaker as well as by Israeli Ambassador Sela.

Before the ceremony, a pair of women parachutists from Slovenia and Israel will make a landing in a tribute to Szenes, the president's office has announced.

Szenes was one of the 17 Hungarian Jews who joined the British forces as a volunteer. Parachuted by the British on a mission to assist anti-Nazi forces, she landed in Bela Krajina on 13 March 1944 in an area liberated by the Partisan resistance.

As a British soldier she later headed on foot to Hungary. She was apprehended by Hungarian gendarmes at the border in June 1944 and was sentenced to death.

To honour her memory, 100 Israeli parachutists, joined by colleagues from Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and the UK will parachute to the Cerklje ob Krki airbase ahead of the Metlika ceremony at the initiative of the Israeli Defence Forces in cooperation with the Slovenian Defence Ministry and the Slovenian Armed Forces.

Friendship days strengthen cooperation between countries and invoke the long-running bonds, friendship and alliance in hardest times, something that Pahor discussed in a recent phone call with his new Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog.

18 Jul 2021, 14:57 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 16 July 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Opposition's options

STA, 16 July 2021 - The left-wing magazine Mladina speculates about the odds for the centre-left opposition to get Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) MPs to change their minds and support a vote of no confidence against the Janez Janša government, saying their only chance is to offer a candidate for new prime minister that DeSUS MPs will not be able to reject.

Under the headline What Can Opposition Really Do, the paper writes that the new DeSUS leader Ljubo Jasnič does not appear to be capable of pulling the party's three MPs who have individual arrangements with Janša from the ruling coalition, even though this would be the only chance for DeSUS not to be squeezed out of parliament in the next election.

"Where the opposition has got the idea that the three MPs could change their minds? Why would Jurša, Hršak and Simonovič do that now," the paper writes, wondering whether the result of the waters act referendum, where 90% of people in their electoral districts sent out the message that they no longer support their actions, is enough to change the MPs' minds.

"It is not possible to infer from all that at the moment that the three MPs could soon change their minds and support a vote of no confidence in Janša and the appointment of a new prime minister before the election.

"Only one option appears to be realistic: that the opposition offers a candidate for prime minister that they will simply not be able to reject. Such a candidate is not an opposition party leader or a new Karl Erjavec. The opposition will have to come up with a candidate [DeSUS MPs] will not be able to reject because they would thus reject the country's political stabilisation.

"They will simply not dare say no to that because after the referendum outcome they are no doubt aware of their responsibility and the voters' plebiscitarian opinion. The vote was too unanimous for the MPs not to be aware of."

Demokracija: Referendum result due to manipulation

STA, 15 July 2021 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija blames the outcome of Sunday's waters act referendum on "manipulation" supported by "mainstream media" as well as abstinence by right-leaning voters, writing in the latest editorial that the vote should serve as a "reminder to good people".

The commentary, headlined Body and Mind Thieves, says that the voters, who massively voted against the new law, were manipulated into believing the law was about clean water, when it was in fact aimed at securing much more financial funds for flood safety.

"The manipulation with the help of mainstream media (including the state RTV Slovenija and STA), who openly sided with the referendum proponents, succeeded. Even the obvious abstinence of the right-leaning voters has contributed to it.

"Let this referendum be a reminder to all good people unless Slovenians want to end up in socialism (again) next year. There was no shortage of the deadly ideology's cliches in the referendum campaign; what causes concern is that younger generations follow it so blindly."

The weekly goes on to say that the biggest mistake now would be for the government to dramatise the result of the referendum, which it does not think can be used to judge on the voter sentiment on the ruling coalition and does not mean a defeat of conservatism.

"People will show which ideology they favour more and which will be in rule in the parliamentary election, which as it now appears will be held next year," the paper writes, adding there is no reason for the government to resign over the referendum result.

All our posts in this series are here

17 Jul 2021, 12:36 PM

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, 9 July
        LJUBLJANA - The prime ministers of Visegrad Group countries endorsed the priorities of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU as they held talks with Prime Minister Janez Janša, who said the statement the four adopted at their recent summit largely reflected Slovenia's priorities and to a large extent the positions that Slovenia had about several topical issues.
        LJUBLJANA - The Justice Ministry published a new call for applications for two European delegated prosecutors after the previous one was annulled. The State Prosecutor's Council indicated it would not go along with the new call.
        SOFIA, Bulgaria - President Borut Pahor said at a meeting of leaders from the Three Seas Initiative that the initiative could only be successful if it acted in line with the goals, priorities and policies of the EU. He said one strategic goal must always be pursued, and that is sustainable development.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - EU ministers in charge of employment and social policy concluded a two-day informal meeting with the conclusion that to have resilient and inclusive labour markets, a regular and constructive dialogue with the civil society needs to be boosted.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenians who wish to mix different coronavirus vaccines will be allowed to do that under new guidance issued by the National Institute of Public Health. The general rule is that the same vaccine be used for both shots, but if individuals express the wish to mix vaccines, they can do it.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the audiovisual media services act under which content providers will have to earmark 6% of their gross annual revenue to a special fund to finance European audiovisual production. It was originally proposed that the levy be set at 2%, but the coalition partners pushed through an amendment raising the share to 6%.
        LJUBLJANA - An investigation into the conduct of the police at the 25 June anti-government rally found no fault in the decision of police officers to remove a far-right group, though several irregularities in the policing of the event had been detected.

SATURDAY, 10 July
        TRIESTE, Italy - President Borut Pahor said during a visit to Trieste that National Hall, which used to be the centre of the Slovenian community in Trieste, should be returned to the Slovenian community there as soon as possible, the symbolic restitution having taken place a year ago. Pahor was also conferred the Tre Sigilli di Trieste, the city's highest honour.

SUNDAY, 11 July
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian voters overwhelmingly rejected the changes to the waters act in a referendum. More than 86% voted against and the statutory requirement that at least 20% of all voters must be against for a law to be rejected was satisfied as well. Turnout exceeded 46%, the highest in a referendum since 2007.
        TEHRAN, Iran/LJUBLJANA - The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Slovenia's Ambassador to Iran Kristina Radej over Prime Minister Janez Janša's call for an inquiry into a 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran at the Free Iran World Summit, an event hosted by the Iranian diaspora.
        
MONDAY, 12 July
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša nominated Mark Boris Andrijanič, the chair of the Strategic Council for Digitalisation and head of public policy for Central and Eastern Europe at Uber, to head the forthcoming Digital Transformation Office as a minister without portfolio.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to Slovenia over Prime Minister Janez Janša's recent statement about a 1988 massacre in Iran, to explain that Slovenia always advocates human rights and fundamental freedoms and that Slovenia's activities are never directed against any particular country.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, vetoed the amendments to the communicable diseases act that the National Assembly passed the week before in order to replace provisions that had been struck down by the Constitutional Court.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - As part of the Slovenian EU presidency, Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti opened an exhibition of contemporary Slovenian visual arts at the European Parliament, entitled We Live in Exciting Times. The minister opposed the initial concept of the show, but was pleased with the end result.
        LJUBLJANA - Trade unions called on the government to withdraw a legislative proposal that would eliminate employee representatives from management of the Health Insurance Institute (ZSSS), which collects and manages mandatory health insurance contributions.
        
TUESDAY, 13 July
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed in a 49:17 vote a resolution on climate strategy until 2050 under which Slovenia commits to become climate neutral in the coming 30 years. Before backing it, coalition MPs added a provision saying that Slovenia will use nuclear energy in the long term.
        PRAGUE, Czechia - President Borut Pahor called for a strong and effective Europe as he appeared as a speaker at the Prague European Summit, recalling the bloc's fundamental values such as rule of law that he said should be understood the same way.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly rejected President Borut Pahor's nominee for Constitutional Court judge, Janez Kranjc. He received 45 votes in a secret ballot, one short of the required majority, as 43 MPs voted against and one ballot was invalid.
        LJUBLJANA - Damjan Kukovec, senior lecturer in law at Middlesex School of Law in London, was endorsed as a candidate for judge at the EU General Court, the National Assembly having voted 74:15 in his favour in a secret ballot.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly reappointed Irena Vodopivec Jean a vice-governor of the central bank. She will assume another six-year term after her current one ends on 6 October.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed in a 51:11 vote amendments to the service in the Slovenian Armed Forces act which aim to address long-standing labour issues and the specific rights and responsibilities of soldiers during service.
        LJUBLJANA - Jaroš Britovšek was appointed director general of the Defence Ministry's Intelligence and Security Service (OVS) for a full term by the government, having served as acting director since March.
        MURSKA SOBOTA - Mura, Slovenia's football champions, made it to the second round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League after crushing North Macedonia's Shkendija 5:0 to advance on an aggregate score of 6:0.

WEDNESDAY, 14 July
        LJUBLJANA - Senior officials issued appeals for personal responsibility to avert a new lockdown. The Covid-19 danger is still present, "but responsibility for your health and the health of your loved ones is entirely in your hands," Prime Minister Janez Janša said.
        LJUBLJANA - WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge, President Borut Pahor and Health Minister Janez Poklukar stressed the importance of vaccination and warned of the rapid spread of the Delta variant in view of the resurgence of infections, as they visited the Ljubljana vaccination centre.
        LJUBLJANA - The centre-left opposition said they were considering mounting a fresh attempt to oust the Janez Janša government after failing with a vote of no confidence in February and an impeachment in May. This time, they will carry out the plan only if they are certain of their majority, SocDem leader Tanja Fajon said.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Association of Judges expressed concern and indignation after the National Assembly failed to endorse two candidates for supreme judges over their past decisions, a move that they say undermines judges' independence and fundamental principles of the rule of law.
        PAU, France - Slovenia's cycling star and yellow jersey wearer Tadej Pogačar won the 17th stage of the Tour de France to increase his overall lead.

THURSDAY, 15 July
        LJUBLJANA - The ruling coalition voted to postpone the vote on the bill creating a new demographic fund and voted against amendments to the communicable diseases act in a revote after they were vetoed by the upper chamber. Announcing the move, PM Janez Janša said they did not want such an important topic as the demographic fund to be decided on in such a heated political situation, while he said the new communicable diseases act was no longer needed now that all deputy group leaders called for vaccination.
        KOSTANJEVICA NA KRKI - The presidents of Slovenia, Austria and Croatia, Borut Pahor, Alexander Van der Bellen and Zoran Milanović, urged stepping up vaccination against Covid-19 and threw their support behind the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans, as they met for the 8th trilateral meeting. They also touched on the issue of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant.
        LJUBLJANA - Tighter rules for entering Slovenia took effect. The colour-coded list of countries was replaced with the requirement that passengers who wish to enter the country need to have a Covid certificate regardless of where they come from.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced that those who have been vaccinated against Covid, have recovered from it or have been tested would be allowed to have as few restrictions in public life as possible, while rapid tests will be no longer be free of charge from mid-August.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a coalition-sponsored bill to increase funds for private primary schools to implement two Constitutional Court rulings after several previous attempts to do so failed. The bill secures 100% state funding of private primary schools' obligatory curriculum, up from 85% now.
        LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak told an online debate the discussion on the Fit for 55 package should not just be about the goals but also about how to achieve these goals in the best, fairest and most responsible way to protect the competitiveness of the Slovenian and European economy.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs chaired an informal session of EU home affairs ministers, which he said showed that stances between EU members in talks on the EU pact on migration and asylum were still quite diverging but they showed political will for progress.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - European Commissioner Ylva Johansson expressed her disappointment because the issue of STA financing has still not been resolved, saying she got the impression after meeting Interior Minister Aleš Hojs back in April that the issue would soon be solved.
        DUBLIN, Ireland - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney attended a ceremony to inaugurate the new premises of the Slovenian Embassy in Dublin with Logar calling the reopening of the embassy "an important milestone" in the efforts to further enhance political, economic, cultural and other ties between the two countries.
        KRANJ - The Kranj District Court handed down an eight-month suspended prison sentence with a probation period of five years to a 20-year-old from Kropa who planned a shooting spree in April, after he was found guilty of attempted trafficking in weapons. He said that he regretted his actions and apologized.
        PAU - Tadej Pogačar won a second stage at the Tour de France in as many days to increase his overall lead and secure the polka-dot jersey of best climber. He has all but secured the overall victory on Sunday, having a 5:45 minute lead ahead of the runner up, Dane Jonas Vingegaard.

 

15 Jul 2021, 11:38 AM

STA, 14 July 2021 - The centre-left opposition are considering mounting a fresh attempt to oust the Janez Janša government after failing with a vote of no confidence in February and an impeachment in May. This time, they will carry out the plan only if they are certain of their majority.

If the opposition gathers 46 votes, it will table a motion of no confidence, SocDem leader Tanja Fajon said on Wednesday after meeting the leaders of the LMŠ, Left, SAB and unaffiliated MPs.

The five deputy groups do not have 46 votes among them and are counting on the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which was split in the two previous attempts and did not deliver the majority.

DeSUS has been in disarray for months and under its latest president, Ljubo Jasnič, disputes between the party leadership and its MPs, who tend to vote with the government, have not been ironed out.

According to Fajon, the centre-left opposition will keep an eye on four key votes this week, including on the law on the national demographic fund and the new digital transformation minister, to see how DeSUS votes.

While a vote of no confidence in the entire government requires the proponents to put forward a candidate for prime minister, Fajon indicated a name had not been chosen yet.

"But any one of us who shows this interest or ambition should be ready," she said.

The attempt comes after the government suffered several defeats within just days. After a new waters act was overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum, the National Council vetoed amendments to the communicable diseases act and the candidate for the new Constitutional Court judge was not confirmed.

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