14 Jul 2021, 14:26 PM

STA, 14 July 2021 - Police dealt with 3,343 illegal border crossings in the first half of the year, almost a third fewer than in the same period last year, when there were 5,127. The most frequently processed illegal migrants were from Afghanistan (644) and Pakistan (633).

As noted by the police, there has been a sharp decline in the number of Pakistani and particularly Moroccan nationals, as the number of illegal migrants continues to be affected by the limited mobility due to the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lately there has been a marked increase in the number of migrants from Bangladesh, as there were 442 in the first six months of 2021 and only 173 in the same period last year. There has also been a slight increase in the number of migrants coming from Kosovo, Turkey and Iran.

The most dramatic decrease was seen in the numbers of migrants from Morocco, as their number dropped from 1,327 in the first half of last year to just 70 this year. The number of migrants arriving from Pakistan has also dropped, from 1,276 in the January-June period last year to 633 in the same period this year.

The highest number of illegal entries at internal EU borders happened at the border with Hungary this year, which shows that problems at this border seem to be increasing. The most exposed border in this respect is still the border with Croatia.

According to the data on illegal crossings of the border by individual police departments, far fewer migrants were processed in the areas covered by the police departments of Ljubljana and Novo Mesto, while increases were recorded in Maribor, Murska Sobota, Celje and Koper.

The total number of persons who were returned to the Slovenian police (77) and of those returned to foreign authorities (1,636) has also decreased slightly in 2021, compared to the same period last year (413 and 3,157, respectively).

The number of illegal migrants who declare their intention to apply for international protection has decreased, except in the case of Pakistani nationals. However, migrants still mostly resume their journey after reaching Slovenia, heading towards their destination countries.

The total number of applications for international protection received by Slovenian authorities in the first six months of 2021 is quite similar to the same period in 2020, standing at 1,270 and 1,467 respectively.

14 Jul 2021, 11:57 AM

STA, 13 July 2021 - Criminal police are investigating last week's harassment of a number of MPs by anti-maskers in front of the National Assembly, while police security around the parliament building and of parliament staff has also been strengthened, the Ljubljana Police Department said in a written statement on Tuesday.

More MPs than initially reported were a target of harassment and threats, the police said, noting that "the numbers show that these were not individual accidental expressions of people's dissatisfaction with MPs".

The statement does not say how many MPs have been attacked after changes to the infectious diseases act was passed last Wednesday, but a number of MPs publicly said they had been threatened and even spat at by a group of people when leaving the National Assembly.

Speaker Igor Zorčič said on Monday that the National Assembly was considering pressing charges against the attackers, while it had been agreed that security of the National Assembly and its staff should be improved.

The Ljubljana Police Department also said today that the perpetrators had tried to influence how MPs should vote.

According to MP Jožef Horvat from the coalition New Slovenia (NSi), the group that surrounded him wanted to know how he had voted on the changes to the law. He believes Zorčič will not hesitate to take action, but also regrets that deputy group leaders were not unanimous on the matter on Friday when they met with the speaker as, he said, some left the meeting prematurely.

MPs Mojca Škrinjar, Alenka Jeraj and Janez Moškrič from the ruling Democrats (SDS) also spoke today about recent verbal harassments and threats they experienced when entering or leaving the parliament building.

The perpetrators jostled the two female MPs and none of the MPs received help by the police or security, the MPs said.

Jeraj highlighted that such conduct was unacceptable, saying she expected the competent authorities to take action in line with the law.

"We've been raising alarm for a long time, since slogan Death to Janšism started being tolerated, warning what this will lead to," she said, adding that the MPs had also turned to Speaker Zorčič but this came to nothing.

Prime Minister Janez Janša warned on Twitter that violence against MPs had been on the rise.

A parliamentary session or a session of the National Security Council or both would be needed to give the police and prosecution a chance to explain how they plan to curb "this spiral of violence", he said.

Opposition MPs also condemned the violence with National Party (SNS) leader Zmago Jelinčič saying the police should respond immediately and blaming leftist progressive media for the developments.

Marjan Šarec of his eponymous LMŠ party said that the situation was a reflection of today's society where everyone is allowed to do as they please. He said the MPs had not been harassed by leftists, but "boys and girls from all walks of life who joined forces and are now against everything".

Left's deputy group head Matej T. Vatovec sees the reason for the developments in the SDS's year-long actions and their rhetoric of division.

Matjaž Han, the head of SocDems deputy faction, called on his colleagues in parliament to de-escalate the situation, saying there were MPs both on the left and right poles of the political spectrum who incited hate speech. He also dismissed claims by some that anti-government protesters known as Friday cyclists had something to do with this harassment.

The government amended the infectious diseases act after the Constitutional Court declared parts of it and by extension the measures introduced during the epidemic unconstitutional because they gave the government too much leeway in introducing restrictions that affect fundamental rights.

The upper chamber vetoed the amendments yesterday in an unexpected move since no group of councillors had demanded a veto; the National Council simply met to automatically debate vetoes of all major laws to facilitate their prompt implementation.

13 Jul 2021, 11:56 AM

STA, 13 July 2021 - As part of the Slovenian EU presidency, Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti opened an exhibition of contemporary Slovenian visual art at the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday, entitled We Live in Exciting Times. The preparations hit a snag, but the minister was pleased with the final result. 

The exhibition was opened by Minister Simoniti and Karol Karski, a Polish MEP from the Eurosceptic political group European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), who is also the Quaestor and Chair of the Parliament's Art Committee.

"It is beautifully and clearly laid out, the art is attractive and encourages passers-by to stop," Minister Simoniti said about the display, noting the significance of the exhibition being held in the European Parliament.

The participating Slovenian painters, sculptors and photographers, selected by curator Marko Košan from the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts, are Uroš Abram, Suzana Brborović, Nina Čelhar, Tina Dobrajc, Mito Gegič, Aleksij Kobal, Herman Pivk, Ana Sluga, Miha Štrukelj, Lujo Vodopivec, Sašo Vrabič, Uroš Weinberger and Joni Zakonjšek.

The paintings are displayed on the walls of the parliamentary corridors. The exhibition also features paintings by Jasmina Cibic, Arjan Pregl, Andrej Jemec, Lojze Logar and Gašper Jemec, and a sculpture by Drago Tršar, which are part of the European Parliament collection.

The way in which these works were to be included represented the stumbling block in the preparations for the exhibition, traditionally set up by each country during its EU presidency in cooperation with the European Parliament since 2011.

Simoniti cancelled Slovenia's exhibition in May on the grounds that he was not informed of the conditions in time. He disliked the fact that the Parliament wanted to present its own collection of works by Slovenian authors at the same time, because "Slovenia is an independent and sovereign country that will decide what to exhibit on its own."

However, the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts, which was commissioned to select the works, announced at the time that the exhibition would be set up under the conditions confirmed at the start of the preparations.

A few days later, the Ministry of Culture confirmed the exhibition, announced that it would be installed under the conditions requested by the minister and that Slovenia's selected works and the works from the European Parliament's permanent collection would be exhibited in two parts.

Minister Simoniti commented on these complications on Monday by saying that he wanted the exhibition to be set up the way it is today - first with artists selected from Slovenia, and then those from the European Parliament's collection, adding that the concept was turned on its head before. "The exhibition is set up the way I wanted it and I think it is set up well," he said.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament said that the concept was the same as originally envisaged, explaining that it is still one exhibition, but in two parts. They saw the complications as the result of misunderstandings, which they had never truly understood very well.

Asked whether the concept was the same as originally envisaged, Simoniti replied, "No, the concept is not the same. The catalogue is not the same. That was precisely the point, and it was often misunderstood in public, also because it was opportune to make an event out of a non-event, and that is why this has occurred."

Asked how he would comment on the allegations that he did not approve of one of the authors, Arjan Pregl, Simoniti replied that these allegations were false.

13 Jul 2021, 11:44 AM

STA, 12 July 2021 - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, vetoed in an 18:13 vote on Monday the amendments to the communicable diseases act that the National Assembly passed last week in order to replace provisions that have been struck down by the Constitutional Court.

The veto comes as a surprise since it had not been demanded by any particular group of councillors. The proceedings were just a continuation of the National Council's practice, introduced at the outset of the epidemic, to automatically debate vetoes of all major laws before the expiry of the seven-day veto period to make sure they may be implemented as soon as possible.

The law was amended after the Constitutional Court declared parts of the act and by extension the measures introduced during the epidemic unconstitutional because they gave the government too much leeway in introducing restrictions that affect fundamental rights.

The amended act determines that expert assessments are required for some measures, and that certain indicators must be taken into account when restrictions are adopted. It also introduces curbs on the duration and location of the measures.

Critics, including centre-left opposition parties, have attacked the amendments as merely affirming the government overreach.

Several councillors echoed these concerns today, in particular with regard to government powers, urging the National Assembly to come up with better solutions.

The amendments were passed in a partisan 44:42 vote last week. To override the veto, at least 46 MPs must vote in favour, a majority that the current government does not have.

The other two laws that the National Council debated today, the latest stimulus law for the tourism and hospitality sector and a law on emergency measures in the healthcare sector, passed muster and can now be enacted.

12 Jul 2021, 10:49 AM

STA, 11 July 2021 - The rejection of the new waters act is a vote of no confidence in the government by the people, who have succeeded in doing what the opposition had failed to do in parliament, according to political analyst Andraž Zorko, who sees the high turnout as an indicator of topics that may feature prominently in future elections.

Voters Strongly Reject Water Development Act in Referendum

Zorko, an analyst for the pollster Valicon and host of a political podcast, noted that over 635,000 people voted against, which is half the number of all voters who cast their votes in the 2018 general election.

"This is yet another very tangible sign what would happen today if this were an election day," he told the STA. "This means that this government de facto no longer has legitimacy".

He said another milestone judging from testimony from polling stations is turnout by youths, which indicates that politics in general, not just this government, will have to change its approach to legislation.

In general, environmental issues are what activates youths. "It is more than obvious that interest among youths is significantly higher because they realise this is about the world that they, not the current decision-makers, will live in."

Slovenians overall are very green and environmentally conscious and these issues will in future affect the activation and turnout of younger voters in particular, he said.

12 Jul 2021, 07:15 AM

STA, 11 July 2021 - Slovenian voters have overwhelmingly rejected the new waters act in a referendum on Sunday. More than 86% voted against, show near-final unofficial results. The statutory requirement that at least 20% of all voters must be against for a law to be rejected has been satisfied as well. 

After more than 99% of the votes were counted, the tally showed 86.6% voting against and 13.4% in favour of the law.

Turnout was just shy of 46%, the highest in a referendum since 2007. It was the highest in Ljubljana, at nearly 50%, and lowest in the Ptuj electoral unit, at almost 37%, according to preliminary data by the National Electoral Commission.

The law was overwhelmingly rejected in all 88 electoral districts, with the share of the no-vote exceeding 80% in almost all districts.

The referendum revolved around provisions of the new law that determine the development of coastal, lakeside and riverside areas.

It was initiated by a grassroots movement of mostly NGOs that objected to provisions that they say would lead to too much development, damage public access to waters and potentially jeopardise groundwater.

The no-vote is a sign that people have had it with obstruction of democratic rights and indicates their disagreement with current policies, Nika Kovač of the Institute 8 March said in an early comment.

"There are claims that the votes were emotional. And I say yes, they definitely were. But they were based on a clear opinion of experts and the work of environmental organisations that the authorities constantly ignored," she said.

Uroš Macerl of the environmental NGO Eko Krog said that people had demonstrated that water and nature were something they were not prepared to give up and perhaps the greatest assets of Slovenia. "This is a victory of courage and activation of good people who wish to change things for the better," he said.

Macerl highlighted that this was also a victory of the young, noting that young people showed they would fight for their future. "I really missed this in the past 10, 15 years of activism and I'm extremely glad," he said.

He also noted that quite a few parties that had been on the side of the experts in this referendum campaign had done many mistakes when it came to environmental policy in the past, urging them not to repeat these mistakes if they ever get to lead the country again.

The government claimed the opposite than the against camp, arguing that the new provision would in fact protect coastal, lakeside and riverside areas from over-development.

Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said the referendum had been stolen and misused to achieve other goals, including political targets.

"People have reacted emotionally ... voters were encouraged by some pamphlets that have nothing to do with the legislation's purpose," Vizjak told public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

11 Jul 2021, 17:31 PM

STA, 11 July 2021 - Speaker Igor Zorčič and the Foreign Ministry paid tribute on Sunday to the victims of the Srebrenica massacre, which took place 26 years ago. The ministry said that relativisation or denial of the tragic event was unacceptable as Zorčič highlighted the role of Slovenia's EU presidency in efforts to achieve reconciliation in the Western Balkans.

Marking Srebrenica Memorial Day, which is observed on 11 July, the ministry pointed out that the anniversary was a warning to reawaken and preserve the memory of the victims and horrors that happened during the Bosnian War.

"Srebrenica will not and should not be forgotten - reconciliation is possible only if we remember and acknowledge the suffering and pain of the people. Denying or relativising these tragic events is unacceptable," the ministry wrote in a press release.

The Western Balkans region is still heavily burdened by memories and a painful historical experience, the ministry said, adding that reconciliation processes should be stepped up as that was the only way for all generations to fulfil their potential and contribute to the well-being, stability and security of the region.

"The strengthening of reconciliation and cooperation is of great value for the progress of all countries in the region on their European path. Slovenia strives for a conciliation process for the Western Balkan region's stability within the framework of its foreign policy priorities and as an EU presiding country," the press release reads.

Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič also stressed the role of the Slovenian EU presidency in the efforts to effect reconciliation in the region.

"The European Union will have, with the help of Slovenia as the EU presiding country, the best opportunity in the next six months to take a step forward towards the integration of Western Balkan countries. Only a joint, European future will be a lasting guarantee for stability and peace in the region and Europe," he wrote.

All of us together, countries in the Western Balkans and the EU, owe this to the Srebrenica victims. We owe this to our children and the generations yet unborn so that they could live in harmony and peace in this area, he added.

11 Jul 2021, 17:18 PM

STA, 11 July 2021 - The Iranian Foreign Ministry has summoned Slovenia's Ambassador to Iran, Kristina Radej, over Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša's recent calls for an inquiry into a 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran, Iranian media reported. Tehran has asked for an explanation from the Slovenian government.

Iran's IRNA news agency reported that the country's Foreign Ministry summoned on Sunday the Slovenian ambassador in Tehran. The reason for the step is Janša's video address at a recent Free Iran World Summit, an annual global event organised by the Iranian diaspora, which Tehran described as an online meeting of "a terrorist group".

The ministry condemned Janša's appearance at the summit during the talk with Ambassador Radej. The Iranian officials told the ambassador that the appearance was "unacceptable, against diplomatic norms and spirit" of bilateral relations, IRNA reported.

The Slovenian ambassador was also told that supporting terrorist organisations was not in line with the United Nations Charter, international principles or human rights values.

Radej assured the officials that she would inform the Slovenian government about Iran's objection to Janša's step.

Janša appeared at the virtual summit on Saturday, urging an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre. In his video message he expressed support for setting up a UN-led commission of inquiry into allegations of state-ordered executions of thousands of political prisoners after the move had been called for by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman.

Janša, the prime minister of a country that is currently at the helm of the Council of the EU, said "this is especially important in light of the fact that the regime's next president will be Ebrahim Raisi, who is accused by Amnesty International of crimes against humanity for his role in the massacre".

"The Iranian regime must be held accountable for human rights violations and the international community must be firmer on this," he said.

The STA has put a number of queries regarding the developments to the Slovenian Foreign Ministry and awaits the answers.

11 Jul 2021, 17:05 PM

STA, 11 July 2021 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša endorsed an inquiry into a 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran as he delivered a video address to the annual Free Iran World Summit, a global event organised by the Iranian diaspora.

"For nearly 33 years the world had forgotten about the victims of the massacre. This should change," he said in a video address he posted on Twitter on Sunday.

Janša expressed his support for a UN-led commission of inquiry into the massacre, after the UN investigator on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, recently called for an independent inquiry into allegations of state-ordered executions of thousands of political prisoners.

PM Janša appears around 1 hours 54 minutes

Janša said such an inquiry commission was "of crucial importance to shed light on the horrible 1988 massacre" and would help the families of victims to finally achieve closure and justice.

"This is especially important in light of the fact that the regime's next president will be Ebrahim Raisi, who is accused by Amnesty International of crimes against humanity for his role in the massacre," he said.

"I will personally continue being engaged on all these issues of concern. You can always count on my understanding and support," he said.

According to Janša, the Iranian people deserve democracy, freedom and human rights "and should be firmly supported by the international community".

"The Iranian regime must be held accountable for human rights violations and the international community must be firmer on this."

10 Jul 2021, 09:30 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 9 July 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Govt engaged in voter suppression

STA, 9 July 2021 - In its latest commentary, Mladina questions the current government's law-making practices and mentions failures in the fight against the epidemic, the intensifying repression and obstruction of political participation, adding that events surrounding the latest referendum on the new water law suggest this can't be just a coincidence.

"The repressive content of the law on infectious diseases and the referendum on the new waters act suggest that there are too many coincidences to believe that this is not a deliberate obstruction of the electorate," says the commentary headlined Are These Really Just Coincidences?

"Were we naive to think that the institution of elections would not be touched?" asks Mladina and continues with listing suspicious administrative occurrences surrounding the referendum on the new water law.

The left-leaning weekly also criticized the government's handling of the Covid-19 epidemic: "They have known since March that they have big problems here, that people do not trust them, but they continued with the very same incompetent team that brought us into this situation. No reflection, no consideration, all the same nonsense and mistakes as last summer."

"Do these people really understand nothing? Or do they understand and continue doing these things deliberately because this situation suits them, because they want the country in a new lockdown, so they can continue their cultural and social revolution during this period?"

Mladina says that "nevertheless, it is worth believing that these are just coincidences or incompetence, and to behave politically." They say that voters' political behaviour was also proven by the early voting turnout in the referendum.

"If the new waters act is defeated in the referendum despite all the 'coincidences', this will send a loud and clear message to the government and the coalition."

"So far, they have been able to declare the polls unreliable and downplay the importance of protests. But if you don't allow people to have early elections, even when they made their wish clear, they will find other ways of political engagement. Underestimating people has a high price," concludes the commentary.

Reporter: Janša's problems with communication growing

STA, 5 July 2021 - The right-leaning weekly Reporter says in its latest editorial that Prime Minister Janez Janša's problems in communication with politicians and media are becoming ever bigger. Not many people can turn a routine event such as the start of the EU presidency into a scandal, says the paper.

The start of the EU presidency is usually a boring, routine event full of predictable statements and cliches. The country taking over the presidency boasts its achievements and presents its ambitious agenda for the next six months.

But in the case of Slovenia, the country's priorities and all the positive messages, which an army of clerks and PR experts has been working on, were overshadowed by the statements and actions of top Slovenian officials.

Even on 1 July, the EU's recovery after the pandemic, Conference on the Future of Europe, strengthening of security, preserving the European way of life and respect for the rule of law were not the main topics of media reports on Slovenia.

Instead, media have been writing for a few days about photographs and swines and ice-cold relations between Janša and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen.

The most credit for this goes to Janša himself, who again made his domestic resentments towards media and judiciary international as the delegation from Brussels paid a visit.

It was almost inevitable that he will do it sometime in the next six months, but it was expected he will pick better timing and do it more successfully.

A photo of judges at a picnic hosted by the SocDems is not something that would shock von der Leyen and European commissioners. She made it clear that judges can be members or sympathisers of political parties.

Moreover, not long ago court proceedings involving Janša were cancelled because of jurors who were members of his Democrats (SDS).

And by attacking the SocDems, Janša offered Frans Timmermans, the European Commission vice-president from the ranks of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), a chance to make a scandal b

All our posts in this series are here

10 Jul 2021, 08:15 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, 2 July
        OHRID, North Macedonia - President Borut Pahor made a case for the EU's rapid enlargement to the Western Balkans as he addressed the Prespa Forum Dialogue, arguing that this was in the interest of the EU and would strengthen the bloc as well as the region. The president said continued enlargement was instrumental to the stability and prosperity of the Western Balkans.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Parliament President David Sassoli said Slovenia's EU presidency had a great responsibility to defend EU values and the rule of law, noting on Twitter that the appointment of Slovenia's prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor's Office was a way to guarantee transparency and protect legal rights.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs raised eyebrows at a briefing for Brussels correspondents, as they interpreted one of his replies as taking aim at European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans with a pearls-to-swine metaphor. It later transpired that the comment was referring to Slovenia's member of the European Commission, Janez Lenarčič, over claims that he opposed the confirmation of the national recovery plan. The Commission denied the claim saying the plan had been approved unanimously.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary inquiry commission investigating the government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis held its first interviews, hearing that two epidemiologists had quit the government advisory group as they had too little say in the decisions.
        ZAGREB, Croatia - The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) gave Slovenia's energy company Petrol a green light on the takeover of Croatian petroleum products seller Crodux. It also cleared the acquisition of electric cable manufacturer Elka by Slovenia's Iskra electronics group.
        LJUBLJANA - The Commission for Corruption Prevention (KPK) has found no conflict of interest in the case of Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak in connection to the construction of the Mokrice hydro plant on the Sava river. The matter was investigated after the KPK received several reports of suspected conflict of interest.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) will be chaired for the next two years by Jana Kolar, the Slovenian representative to ESFRI and a member of its executive board. Kolar will take up her two-year term in 2022 as the first Slovenian and the first woman in this post, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport said.
        LJUBLJANA - The director of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), Bojan Veselinovič, proposed to the government an agreement that would temporarily sort out the relations between the STA and the Government Communication Office (UKOM) since the agency has been without public funding of its service for over 180 days.
        CHALON SUR SAONE, France - Slovenia's Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) won stage 7 of the Tour de France from La Vierzon to Le Creusot and took the polka dot jersey for the best climber.

        ČRNA NA KOROŠKEM - President Borut Pahor spoke at a traditional get-together at the Najevnik Linden Tree to emphasise the importance of respectful dialogue and people listening to each other. He urged people to try to talk to those who think differently and look for compromises for the common good.
        ANNECY, France - Slovenian rider Tadej Pogačar has taken the overall lead at the Tour de France after an individual attack that secured him the fourth place in the 150.8-km eight stage of the prestigious race from Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand.

SUNDAY, 4 July
        KAUNAS, Lithuania - The Slovenian national basketball qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time after NBA star Luka Dončič led the team to a 96:85 win against Lithuania in the final of one of the four qualifying tournaments.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič decided to leave the Tour de France early due to injuries he sustained in the early stages of the race.
MONDAY, 5 July
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša highlighted the EU's post-pandemic recovery and resilience as a clear response to crises as he presented the priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency to the National Assembly. He said successive crises since 2008 had shown that the bloc had been poorly prepared for the majority of these crises.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša called for joint efforts to convince people to get vaccinated against coronavirus as he warned that a vaccination rate of 70% would have to be achieved until the end of the summer if Slovenia is to avoid new lockdowns. He said this was the only way to prevent having to make vaccination mandatory for certain professional groups.
        LJUBLJANA - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said he was doing everything in his power to get trade unions back to the negotiating table after they quit the Economic and Social Council (ESS) in May, yet under the condition that they refrain from taking part in anti-government protests.
        LJUBLJANA - More restrictions on the services sector were lifted. Casinos fully reopened and restrictions on the number of customers in shops were lifted. The rule of reconvalescence, testing or vaccination remains in place indoors.
        STRASBOURG, France - PM Janez Janša told the European Parliament the time had come for the EU to start acting more strategically, including in the Western Balkans. Presenting the Slovenian EU presidency's priorities, he said the first short-term priority was to do everything to prevent the fourth wave of the pandemic.
        STRASBOURG, France - MEPs from the majority of political groups in the European Parliament sent PM Janez Janša some stark messages about the rule of law after he presented Slovenia's EU presidency priorities in the Parliament. Most of the criticism centred on the non-appointment of European delegated prosecutors, media freedom and independent judiciary.
        STRASBOURG, France - PM Janez Janša did not wish to comment on the European political future of his Democrats (SDS) as he visited Strasbourg to address the European Parliament. Asked about the SDS's membership in the European People's Party (EPP), he said that his party was not dealing with such issues but was focused on current challenges.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec hosted ministers in charge of transport from Slovenia's neighbouring countries and the Western Balkans to discuss efforts to improve cross-border connectivity between the EU and the region. He said a proposal to adopt appropriate measures to boost connectivity would be presented at an EU-Western Balkans summit in October.
        LJUBLJANA - Proponents of the referendum on the waters act have sharply criticised the organisation of the voting, alleging voter suppression regarding information on how and where people can vote early and polling station staffing. There were reports of long waiting lines in Ljubljana, where there was just one polling station for early voting, and confusion in Maribor, where there were seven instead of one.

        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed an emergency bill worth EUR 243.5 million to help tourism and other sectors most affected by the Covid-19 epidemic. The legislation also brings a series of measures to help companies in tourism, convention industry, restaurants, sports and culture.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the communicable diseases act after the Constitutional Court declared parts of the act and by extension the measures introduced during the epidemic unconstitutional. The amended act determines that expert assessments are required for some measures, and that certain indicators must be taken into account when restrictions are adopted.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a bill on emergency measures in healthcare which the government had fast-tracked through parliament. The bill, worth EUR 66.6 million, introduces some temporary measures to deal with the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic while also seeking to cut long waiting times.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission projects that Slovenia's economy will expand by 5.7% this year, a 0.8-point increase on its May forecast. The outlook for 2020 was slightly downgraded to 5%. It said Slovenia's recovery was buoyed by growing private spending, investments and exports, with merchandise exports already at pre-crisis levels.
        LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry's oversight of police tasks and powers at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has revealed several shortcomings, including too long investigations and mistakes related to house searchers. Based on the report, Minister Aleš Hojs believes that "certain staff changes" should be made at the NBI.
        RIGA, Latvia - Slovenian Defence Minister Matej Tonin visited the Slovenian soldiers serving in NATO's mission Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia. Together with his Montenegrin and Macedonian counterparts, Olivera Injac and Radmila Šekerinska, he met the mission's senior officers at the Adazi base.

        SOFIA, Bulgaria - President Borut Pahor met his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev to discuss Bulgaria's veto on North Macedonia's bid to join the EU. The presidents are personally committed to see a compromise solution that would pave the way for the start of North Macedonia's EU accession talks, Pahor's office said.
        LJUBLJANA - The government abolished the quarantine requirement for people who come to Slovenia from countries and areas listed as red and dark red and show proof that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recently recovered from the disease as of this Saturday.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia should improve the use of digital tools and new technologies in the judiciary and continue training justice professionals to use them, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said as he presented a report on the judiciary in the EU, ninth so far. He urged Slovenia to appoint its European delegated prosecutors.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar presented via videolink the priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), highlighting the EU's resilience, economic recovery and the Conference on the Future of Europe.
        NOVO MESTO - Pharmaceutical group Krka posted a net profit of EUR 177.4 million for the first half of the year, up 11% on the back of sales that reached EUR 808.6 million, a 1% increase over the same period last year, CEO Jože Colarič said

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Photo galleries and videos

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