STA, 20 January 2021 - Slovenia recorded 1,698 coronavirus infections from 11,308 tests on Tuesday as the seven-day average of new infections and hospitalisations fell below the threshold set by the government to move from black to red tier where the easing of restrictions can start by regions.
Data released by the government show that 5,384 PCR tests and 5,924 rapid antigen tests were performed yesterday, with positivity rates of 25.9% and 5%, respectively.
The daily increase in cases marks a 19% decline on the same day a week ago and is the first time since late October that Tuesday's case count fell below 2,000.
Data from the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik shows that the seven-day average has thus fallen to 1,297, which is below the 1,350 mark set by the government in its colour-coded, five-tier strategy of coronavirus restrictions as one of the criteria to move from top black tier to tier red.
The other criterion is Covid-19 hospitalisations, which government data show fell below the 1,200 mark to 1,178, 22 fewer than the day before after 125 patients were discharged. 181 patients or six fewer than the day before required intensive treatment.
The government will decide on potential easing of measures today with PM Janez Janša saying yesterday no drastic relaxation was to be expected yet.
Another 26 patients with Covid-19 died yesterday, to bring the overall death toll to 3,257, according to the tracker site.
Slovenia has so far reported more than 152,800 coronavirus cases.
No. of infections: more than 1,350
Hospitalisations: more than 1,200
– Measures as they are currently in place
No. of infections: under 1,350
Hospitalisations: under 1,200
– Kindergartens reopen along with the first three grades of primary schools under model C, which means in small groups and in line with all safety recommendations. Lab courses are allowed for students
– Museums, libraries, galleries reopen
– Contactless outdoor sports activities are allowed along with individual and family exercise
– Car repair shops and similar services, ski centres, certain shops reopen (regionally)
No. of infections: under 1,000
Hospitalisations: under 1,000
– School reopens for the remaining primary school students and final years of secondary school under model C, at the university level exams and seminars with up to ten people are allowed
– Reopening of certain other services, shops
– Assembly of up to ten persons allowed
– Free movement among municipalities with adherence to safety measures (the measure will be applied regionally)
No. of infections: under 600
Hospitalisations: under 500
– School reopens for remaining high school students and university students, student dorms reopen
– All remaining services reopen
– Curfew lifted in the entire country (optionally only for some regions)
No. of infections: under 300
– No more restrictions for the entire country
– General hygiene measures remain in place, bars and night clubs remain closed
STA, 19 January 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša said he expected 70% of the Slovenian population could be vaccinated against coronavirus by the beginning of summer as he presented Tuesday fresh figures on planned deliveries of vaccines that indicate Slovenia should get significantly more jabs in the second quarter than previously thought.
Figures presented by Janša show deliveries in the first quarter should be 50,000 higher than indicated last week, as nearly 300,000 shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is to be delivered, along with 50,000 shots of the Moderna vaccine and nearly 559,000 shots of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, which is still awaiting approval by the European Medicines Agency.
In the second quarter Slovenia expects to get 2.4 million shots compared to fewer than 1.7 million shots projected last week, mostly due to a doubling of deliveries by Pfizer/BioNTech to 1.4 million shots.
"The second quarter will be the most important quarter ... If the deliveries come through, we'll achieve a 70% vaccination rate by the beginning of summer and contain the epidemic within our borders," Janša said.
The EU's goal, due to be confirmed by EU leaders at a virtual summit on Thursday, is to vaccinate all health workers and everyone over the age of 80 by March; 70% of the total population should get the vaccine by the summer.
According to Janša, Slovenia could achieve this objective a month earlier assuming all vaccine deliveries are made as scheduled.
Slovenia's vaccination strategy, adopted in December, remains unchanged, which means the elderly and critical staff - respectively persons with highest risk of severe Covid-19 and those at highest risk of contracting the virus - have priority.
Institutions performing the vaccinations have been instructed to have lists of vaccination candidates from the same priority group available in the event those scheduled for vaccination do not show up, or if they have excess shots for any other reason, according to Janša.
The latest data on Slovenia and coronavirus
STA, 19 January 2021 - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj has announced after meeting social partners on Tuesday that he will set the minimum wage for 2021 at EUR 1,024 gross. This is 120% of the minimum cost of living and the lowest possible rise under minimum wage legislation. Last year, the minimum wage stood at EUR 941 gross.
The minister said the government intended to partly cover the raise for employers until the end of June with the option of a six-month extension.
The next anti-corona economic stimulus bill will thus bring a provision to lower the lowest base for social contributions from 60% of the average salary to the sum corresponding to the minimum wage. In this way the state would pay some 40% of the raise, Cigler Kralj explained at a news conference in Brdo pri Kranju.
This will be the second most important measure in the eighth economic stimulus bill, which will also bring an extension of the furlough subsidy scheme and some new measures to preserve jobs during the epidemic.
A new formula to calculate the minimum wage kicked in as of 2021 in line with the 2018 changes to the minimum wage act.
It says the minimum wage must be at least 20% but not more than 40% above the minimum cost of living.
The last time the minimum cost of living was calculated was in 2017, at EUR 613 for a single person. It will be next calculated in 2023.
This is what particularly bothers the trade unions, with Pergam head Jakob Počivavšek saying the raise does not take into account all the price increases since 2017.
Although some employers insisted on freezing the raise even at today's meeting with the minister, they now welcomed his opting for the lowest possible rise.
The director of the OZS small business chamber, Danijel Lamperger, told the STA he expected the state to keep the word about subsidising the raise.
Počivavšek meanwhile criticized Cigler Kralj for having decided how much to raise the minimum wage before meeting the social partners, saying he had announced the sum at the start of the meeting.
The ZSSS confederation said last week it hoped for almost the highest possible raise, which means the minimum wage would amount to some EUR 847 net.
The minimum wage for each year must be set by the labour minister after consulting social partners, and the sum must be published in the Official Gazette by 31 January.
Employer organisations were against the changes to the minimum wage act before they were being passed in late 2018, arguing many companies could not afford to raise wages.
During the corona crisis last year they wanted to persuade the government to freeze or delay the January 2021 raise, but the trade unions were strongly against.
The government came up with a compromise, proposing to delay the new formula until 1 April, with the government covering the raise until September.
Since both the employers and trade unions opposed it, the proposal did not make it to the last anti-corona economic stimulus law.
Statistics Office data shows that the average monthly gross pay in Slovenia in 2019 was EUR 1,754.
This summary is provided by the STA:
Motion of no confidence in government temporarily withdrawn
LJUBLJANA - Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Karl Erjavec has withdrawn his bid to become PM-designate until all MPs are able to vote in person, after an opposition MP was confirmed to have the coronavirus and several others still waited for the results of their tests. Erjavec said he planned to resubmit the motion of no confidence in the Janez Janša government as soon as all MPs who have signed the motion can vote. The ruling coalition criticised the move as an excuse to avoid a failure to vote out the government, after Erjavec already said on Monday he was considering withdrawing his bid.
Strain resembling English coronavirus variant detected in Slovenia
LJUBLJANA - A strain of the novel coronavirus very similar to the highly virulent English mutation has been detected in the smear test sample of a person who has recently arrived in Slovenia from England, the national lab has confirmed. The National Laboratory for Health, Environment and Food told the STA that sections of the sample they had been able to analyse fully matched the English variant, but they were unable to acquire the whole genome sequence.
Daily coronavirus count down on week before for 10th day
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged 1,690 new coronavirus infections from 14,010 tests on Monday as the daily increase in cases fell on the week before for the tenth day running. Government data also show that 25 more Covid-19 patients died. Government data show 5,306 PCR tests and 8,704 rapid antigen tests were performed yesterday, of which 22.8% and 5.5%, respectively, came back positive. The number of cases confirmed is a decline of almost 11% on the figure a week ago, follows from the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org.
Janša expects 70% of Slovenians could be vaccinated by beginning of summer
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša said he expected 70% of the Slovenian population could be vaccinated against coronavirus by the beginning of summer as he presented fresh figures on planned deliveries of vaccines that indicate Slovenia should get significantly more jabs in the second quarter than previously thought. In the second quarter Slovenia expects to get 2.4 million shots compared to fewer than 1.7 million shots projected last week, mostly due to a doubling of deliveries by Pfizer/BioNTech to 1.4 million. "The second quarter will be the most important quarter ... If the deliveries come through, we'll achieve a 70% vaccination rate by the beginning of summer and contain the epidemic within our borders," Janša said.
Minimum wage for 2021 to be set at EUR 1,024 gross
BRDO PRI KRANJU/LJUBLJANA - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj announced after meeting social partners that he will set the minimum wage for 2021 at EUR 1,024 gross. This is 120% of the minimum cost of living and the lowest possible rise under minimum wage legislation. Last year, the minimum wage stood at EUR 941 gross. The minister said the government intended to partly cover the raise for employers until the end of June with the option of a six-month extension. The last time the minimum cost of living was calculated was in 2017, at EUR 613 for a single person. It will be next calculated in 2023. This is what particularly bothers the trade unions, as the raise does not take into account all the price increases since 2017.
First EU recovery fund transfers expected before end of June
LJUBLJANA - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj expects that the first transfers from the EU's recovery fund will be made during Portugal's EU presidency in the first half of this year, as member states including Slovenia are rushing to ratify the legal basis and draw up national recovery plans. "We'll hurry up as best as we can so that this project regarding the entire recovery package commences as soon as possible," Šircelj told Slovenian reporters after an online session of EU finance ministers. Unofficial information indicates that the ratification by the National Assembly of the legal basis, called the Own Resources Decision, is planned in March.
Parliamentary majority opposes probe into rapid test procurement
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Health Committee debated the contentious rapid antigen test procurement for mass testing at Monday's session, voting down the proposal by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) to urge relevant institutions to look into potential wrongdoing in the matter. The session was called by the SD, whose MP Franc Trček said suspicions were being raised as to the lawfulness of the public procurement as well as the reliability of tests.
Slovenia's Expo Dubai pavilion ready for showcase
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is to take over the management of its pavilion at Expo Dubai next week on the sidelines of Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek's visit to the United Arab Emirates netween Sunday and next Wednesday. The exhibition is to help with Slovenia's economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister said, adding he was glad to see plans to expand Slovenia's economy to the fastest growing markets coming to life. "This year the icing on the cake of our export efforts will be active participation in the greatest world event, that is Expo 2020 Dubai," Počivalšek said.
Police find ten people who threatened govt officials
LJUBLJANA - Police have recorded 18 cases of threats to government representatives or persons connected with government work in any way from March 2020 until the end of last year and managed to find perpetrators in ten of the cases. Intensive investigation is still under way into several cases, the police told the STA on Monday evening. The news comes after Prime Minister Janez Janša told the commercial broadcaster Nova24TV in an interview on Sunday that he received about 100 death threats on a daily basis, mostly through social media.
Squatters evicted from Rog as building site emerges
LJUBLJANA - Members of an autonomous social and cultural community that have been squatting the defunct Ljubljana bicycle factory Rog for years are being forcefully removed from the premises on Monday as construction work started on the site. The Ljubljana authorities confirmed they had started tearing down buildings on the site as part of the long running efforts to remake the rundown site into a new creative hub. Police said ten persons were detained, one of whom was injured during arrest. Users of the Rog compound claim three people were injured during arrest and had to be taken to the emergency room.
Slovenia with highest construction growth in EU in November
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Slovenia recorded the highest growth in construction works in the EU in November, both on the monthly and annual levels, show Eurostat data. Slovenia's volume of construction works was up by 12.2% in November on the previous month. Hungary follows with a 12% increase and Slovakia with 7%. At the EU level, the figure rose by 1.2%.
Slovenia remains attractive for Austrian investments
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia remains an attractive investment destination for Austrian companies despite the pandemic, shows a survey conducted by the Austrian trade office Advantage Austria Ljubljana among its members. Investments are being postponed due to Covid-19, but most companies think that Slovenia will keep its investment allure in 2021.
Revoz forced to briefly suspend production after fire at supplier's
NOVO MESTO - Revoz, the Renault-owned assembly plant in Novo Mesto, will have to suspend production for a few days starting on Thursday after a supplier of insulation components had to stop deliveries due to a massive fire, Revoz spokeswoman Nevenka Bašek Zildžović said. A week ago the production facilities and offices of Treves, based in Bič in south Slovenia, went up in flames and it had to suspend production.
Ljubljana budget revised up by EUR 34m
LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana city council has endorsed a revised budget for this year to expand the original one by EUR 34.35 million to EUR 439 million. The city is to spend EUR 187.3 million on investments. The council, where Mayor Zoran Janković holds an outright majority, also gave its go ahead last night to the draft budget documents for 2022 and 2023, valued at EUR 417 million and EUR 416 million, respectively.
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STA, 19 January 2020 - DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec has withdrawn his bid to become PM-designate until all MPs will be able to work in normal conditions, says a press release published on the web site of the National Assembly. The move comes after several MPs have been infected with coronavirus and would not be able to vote in person.
This means that the parliamentary session to vote on Erjavec's bid that was scheduled for Wednesday will not take place. Also cancelled was today's college of deputy group leaders, which was to decide on the timing of the vote.
The ruling coalition criticised the move as an excuse to avoid a failure to vote out the government with Prime Minister Janez Janša commenting on Monday that "the Slovenian caviar left is unfit to fight any fair political battle anywhere".
This was after Erjavec said on Monday he was considering withdrawing his bid because some MPs had been infected with coronavirus or were self-isolating, which meant they would not be able to vote in the secret ballot that was planned for Wednesday.
"Considering they have been unable to count their votes for three months, this is no surprise," Danijel Krivec, the head of the deputy faction of Janša's Democrats (SDS), told reporters in parliament today.
"Considering such a demanding matter is being tabled with 42 signatures, which we know is doomed to failure, they're just looking for an alibi to avoid a fiasco in the vote," he said, hoping the "burlesque" would not continue.
Janša said the parties behind the motion were only seeking to cause trouble and spread coronavirus following the principle "the more infected and dead the better for KUL". "If bringing down the government succeeded, then [there was to be] chaos and election," Janša tweeted.
"Cases become statute barred on purpose in the judiciary, in parliament votes of no confidence are announced, cancelled, withdrawn ... In the meantime the mainstream media subjected to them spread the virus of intolerance, exclusion and divisions," added Janša.
Also reacting via Twitter, Zdravko Počivalšek, the economy minister and leader of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), questioned the pick of Erjavec for the post of PM considering that he had not even been elected to parliament.
"A serious opposition would put forward the leader of its biggest party for PM-designate. Marjan Šarec may dare to look for the gun thrown in the maize field. We wouldn't back him, but I'd value him much more," said Počivalšek, expanding on the set phrase that had been used by Janša earlier in response to the opposition's bid to replace his cabinet.
Počivalšek's tweet was also shared by Defence Minister Matej Tonin, the leader of New Slovenia (NSi).
"Karl Erjavec and his supporters have had to realise at last the epidemic is not the right time to propose motions of no confidence," the NSi said in a written response, calling for constructive conduct to defeat Covid-19.
National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič, an SMC member, noted obstacles in Erjavec's attempts to get MPs from his own party on board for the motion as a sign of "how such a coalition would function".
The head of the SMC deputy faction Janja Sluga said she believed the problem was in fact the absence of some MPs, while she also noted that temporary withdrawal of such a bid was not possible so the whole procedure would have to be started anew.
Under the parliamentary rules of procedure, MPs must be present in parliament in person for the secret ballot, whereas the deadline to hold the extraordinary session on the no-confidence motion is Friday, seven days after it was tabled.
Erjavec said he would consult legal experts about this and he held talks with the members of the informal KUL coalition this morning.
The no-confidence motion was filed by 42 MP from the opposition LMŠ, SD, Left, SAB and DeSUS last Friday.
Erjavec's withdrawing his bid means the procedure for the vote of no-confidence is over.
If the vote is to be held in the future, a new no-confidence motion will have to be filed, with all the signatures, Speaker Igor Zorčič told the STA yesterday.
Zorčič and deputy faction leaders today discussed ways to allow MPs to cast a secret ballot remotely or outside the parliament building with Zorčič expecting proposals by Thursday.
However, any such change would entail amendments to the parliamentary rules of procedure, which require a two-thirds majority to pass. Zorčič does not think solutions can be offered overnight, also because of a series of legal, security, ethical and health issues involved.
Noting the controversy over remote session and public voting last year, he said: "No one would even dare consider a secret electronic ballot, as other countries don't have something like that either. In particular not to vote a prime minister via computer."
Erjavec is expected to address the press at 4pm today.
STA, 19 January 2020 - Members of an autonomous social and cultural community that have been squatting the defunct Ljubljana bicycle factory Rog for years are being forcibly removed from the premises on Monday as construction work started on the site.
The Ljubljana authorities confirmed they had started tearing down buildings on the site as part of the long running efforts to remake the rundown site into a new creative hub.
Representatives of one of the activist organisations squatting the compound told the STA security guards dragged people out of the building with police standing watch, while the rtvslo news webs site reported police used tear gas against some individuals.
The Ljubljana Police Department (LPD) confirmed for the STA that the owner of the premises was carrying out construction work on the site, initially with the help of security guards.
Tovarna ROG:sesuvanje avtonomnega prostora?? pic.twitter.com/rvWVlnaFgC— Društvo AREAL (@ArealDrustvo) January 19, 2021
The police were called in as persons gathering on the premises would not follow the guards' instructions, the LPD said, adding they had established violations of the public peace and order on the site and persons who did not follow police orders were fined.
The police said construction and security services had secured the building and checked whether there were persons inside to set up a building site. "The public order has been established and police will stay on the site to ensure it remains that way," the release said.
Video footage available online shows fences being put up and individuals being handcuffed and taken away by the police as some of the onlookers carried banner saying We're not giving up Rog.
The city, which has included the Rog makeover project in its 2021 budget, has been trying to take possession of the premises for years, including through courts. It most recently tried to evict the squatters in 2019 after winning a court battle against several of them.
"Having been notified in recent weeks that Rog is empty, we took possession of the premises, which are property of the Ljubljana municipality, today," the city authorities said.
They added that they had started demolishing work based on a development permit and "environmental remedy of the site, which is seriously degraded and dangerous" due to galvanic residues and structural instability of the buildings.
They are planning to publish a tender within a month to pick a contractor to renovate Rog, announcing that a new Rog Centre would be completed within two years to provide "premises to more than 500 creators and creative groups on 8,000 square metres of modern production space".
"By revitalising the site we will acquire a new creative meeting point and a hub linking the city centre, the Metelkova cultural centre, the new Cukrarna Gallery and Cukrarna Palace," they added.
In response to the developments, the local chapter of the Left party protested against what it called a renewed attack by the city authorities on the autonomous Rog plant, accusing the mayor of abusing the epidemic, also against NGOs helping those affected by it.
The party said the mayor secured an additional EUR 1.8 million for the Rog project in the revised city budget passed yesterday, while "social and education programmes that have been enriching the city for years will be erased [...] and alternative culture disabled".
STA, 18 January 2021 - The new Gault & Millau culinary guide has further cemented the position of three restaurants, Hiša Denk, Hiša Franko and Pri Lojzetu, as top culinary destinations in Slovenia, after the three had already received excellent scores in the country's first Michelin guide in 2020.
Gregor Vračko of Hiša Denk in Zgornja Kungota was named chef of the year 2021 by Gault & Millau, while his restaurant received four toques, the highest possible score in the Gault & Milau guide.
Five other restaurants also received the four toques rating: Hiša Franko in Kobarid and Gostila pri Lojzetu in Vipava, as well as Ošterija Debeluh in Brežice, Restavracija Mak in Maribor and Restavracija Strelec in Ljubljana.
Grega Repovž of Gostilna Repovž in Šentjanž was named the best sommelier of 2021. The restaurant also received the Bib Gourmand designation by from Michelin for exceptionally good food at modest prices.
The best patisserie award went to Fetiche Patisserie in Ljubljana. The popularity award went to Wine Bar Šuklje in Ljubljana.
Mojca Trnovec of Gostilna Mihovec in Zgornje Pirniče was named the best traditional cuisine chef, while Luka Košir of Gostilna Grič in Šentjošt nad Horjulom was named the best chef of the future. His establishment also received the Bib Gourmand.
The best young talent title went to Leon Pintarič of Rajh in Murska Sobota, which also received the Bib Gourmand from Michelin.
Gault & Millau Slovenija director Mira Šemić said as the guide was launched that 2020 had been a hard year, but the guide nevertheless managed to find a number of great culinary stories. "Awards are an inspiration to other restaurateurs and proof that we recognise creativity."
The head of the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) Maja Pak said that the awards were a great recognition for gastronomy in Slovenia at a time when tourism and gastronomy faced the worst crisis in history due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Today is a day to celebrate, as Slovenia bears the title European Region of Gastronomy 2021, said Pak. "These awards are a great introduction to a gastronomically themed year."
This summary is provided by the STA:
Erjavec mulling temporary withdrawal of no-confidence motion due to Covid
LJUBLJANA - DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec will decide by midday tomorrow whether to temporarily withdraw his consent to the bid to become a prime minister-designate because several MPs have been infected with coronavirus and could not vote in person. He believes it would be right to continue with the no-confidence motion once all MPs can vote. Under the parliamentary rules of procedure, MPs must be present in parliament in person for a secret ballot. The college of deputy group leaders meets tomorrow to decide when to hold the session. Wednesday has been mentioned as a possible date.
Slovenia supportive of vaccine travel certificate
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia expressed support for a vaccine travel certificate as the EU's Europe ministers launched a debate on the issue. Gašper Dovžan, Foreign Ministry state secretary for European affairs, "supported the idea of European vaccination certificates, which could strengthen the four European freedoms in accordance with the principles of EU law," the Foreign Ministry said. The office of Prime Minister Janez Janša said Janša had "already made it clear that he thinks this will sooner or later come to be".
Daily coronavirus case count hits three-month low
LJUBLJANA - In another sign that the second epidemic wave in Slovenia is gradually ebbing, 293 new coronavirus infections were confirmed from 1,769 tests on Sunday, a three-month low. 26 Covid-19 patients died, bringing the death toll to 3,206. Government data also show Covid-19 hospitalisations rising by 17 to 1,237 as the number of intensive care cases dropped by four to 184. National Institute of Public Health data put the 7-day average of cases at 1,350, the threshold value for one of the criteria to start easing restrictions.
Tests used for mass testing meet standards, says official
LJUBLJANA - After questions were raised about rapid antigen tests used for mass screening and their efficacy, Health Ministry State Secretary Marija Magajne told reporters the ministry's inquiry into the matter showed the test kits complied with relevant national guidelines and WHO standards regarding their sensitivity and specificity. Wile detailed findings about the quality of the tests will be released later, Magajne said the result of positive tests was almost 100% accurate and negative were 80-90% accurate.
SD deputy group leader Han catches coronavirus
LJUBLJANA - A rapid antigen test showed today that Matjaž Han, the leader of the deputy group of the opposition Social Democrats (SD), is infected with coronavirus, after an expert working for the deputy group tested positive Saturday. Another SD deputy, MP Matjaž Nemec is still waiting for the test result, after he was in contact with SOVA intelligence agency director Janez Stušek, who tested positive over the weekend.
Foreign Ministry calls for immediate release of Navalny
LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry called for "immediate release" of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. "Unhindered activities of opposition politicians are the foundation of a free democratic world," the ministry said in a post on its Twitter account on Sunday. After spending several months in Germany to be treated for Novichok poisoning, Navalny returned to Russia on Sunday and was detained by police soon after his flight landed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.
Speakers Zorčič and Bečić discuss closer cooperation
LJUBLJANA - Speaker Igor Zorčič and his Montenegrin counterpart Aleksa Bečić discussed in a video call Slovenia's support for Montenegro's EU bid, ways of strengthening bilateral cooperation, and the epidemiological situation in their countries. The officials expressed satisfaction with the excellent bilateral relations, and lauded the cooperation and close ties at the top parliamentary level and at the level of parliamentary bodies, the National Assembly said. The pair called for strengthening economic cooperation.
Bilingual signposts in Austrian Carinthia vandalised
BLEIBURG, Austria/LJUBLJANA - Unknown perpetrators spray-painted the Slovenian names of bilingual signposts in Pliberk/Bleiburg and Škocjan v Podjuni/Sankt Kanzian am Klopeiner See in the state of Carinthia, Austria on Saturday night. Police think the cases might be related. Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch strongly condemned the incident. She expects the perpetrators to come forward and publicly apologise, and the Austrian authorities to condemn the incident and prosecute the perpetrators.
Water diplomacy in focus of Slovenia-EU conference
BRUSSELS, Belgium - A four-day online conference organised by Slovenia and the European Commission Directorate-General for International Partnerships kicked off under the title Water and Beyond: EU Transformative Approaches for International Partnerships. The event focuses on water diplomacy, one of the priorities for Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency. Water must be inserted systemically and comprehensively into all aspects and forms of the EU's external action, said Stanislav Raščan, a state secretary at Slovenia's Foreign Ministry.
Vox Populi poll shows half support Erjavec as PM-designate
LJUBLJANA - The latest Vox Populi poll, commissioned by the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer, sees the ruling Democrats (SDS) as the most popular party at 19.9%, followed by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) at 12.6%. Almost half of the respondents (48.8%) support the vote of no confidence in the government, and slightly more than half (50.6%) would endorse DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec as PM-designate. President Borut Pahor remains the most popular politician head of by MEP Ljudmila Novak.
Negative staffing trend in army reversed
LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin said the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) have managed to reverse the negative staffing trend in 2020, as the SAF hired 222 members of the permanent force and 73 members of the contractual reserve. Among the main reasons for the improvement, the minister mentioned the elimination of red tape, as well as reports about the army in the positive light and about its modernisation.
Higher court upholds fine for Agrokor in Costella takeover
LJUBLJANA - Croatia's Agrokor will have to pay a fine of EUR 1 million for failing to notify Slovenia's competition regulator of concentration following the 2017 takeover of Slovenian-based water-bottling company Costella. The Agency for the Protection of Competition said the Higher Court in Ljubljana has rejected Agrokor's appeal against a first-instance ruling, which means that the agency's decision on the fine is now final, and Agrokor will also have to pay the costs of the procedure.
Slovenia redeems EUR 1.5bn ten-year bond
LJUBLJANA - The treasury redeemed a EUR 1.5 billion eurobond issued by Slovenia ten years ago at an interest rate of 4.375%. This represents 40% of the central government budget debt that is due this year, the Finance Ministry announced. The total amount of the central government budget debt that is due in 2021 is EUR 3.7 billion, and Slovenia has already secured re-financing of these liabilities as part of long-term borrowing the treasury carried out earlier this month.
NGO warns mining act changes allow fracking in Petišovci
LJUBLJANA - The environmental NGO Focus is critical of the government-sponsored amendments to the mining act, arguing they would open the door to hydraulic fracturing or fracking in Slovenia's Petišovci and, consequently, to public health and environmental hazards in the local environment. Under the amendments, high-volume fracking would be prohibited in Slovenia, while low-volume fracking would be allowed under certain conditions. Focus said fracking should be completely banned.
TEB power station launches new gas unit
BRESTANICA - TEB, a Brestanica-based natural gas power station, has launched its seventh gas unit after its construction started in July 2019. Together with unit six, PB7 will replace the first three gas units from 1974. As part of the trial launch the turbine was turned on on Friday after TEB completed in December cold tests AND obtained all the required certificates. PB7 is to start supplying power to the grid at the end of the month.
Hiša Denk and its chef top new Gault & Millau guide
LJUBLJANA - The new Gault & Millau culinary guide has further cemented the position of three restaurants, Hiša Denk, Hiša Franko and Pri Lojzetu, as top culinary destinations in Slovenia, after the three had already received excellent scores in the country's first Michelin guide in 2020. Gregor Vračko of Hiša Denk in Zgornja Kungota was named chef of the year 2021 by Gault & Millau, while his restaurant received four toques, the highest possible score in the Gault & Milau guide. Hiša Denk and Pri Lojzetu each have two Michelin stars, while Hiša Franko became the first and only restaurant in Slovenia to get the highest Michelin score of three stars in June.
Star cyclist Tadej Pogačar becomes tourism ambassador
LJUBLJANA - Cyclist Tadej Pogačar, winner of the Tour de France, is the latest in line of top athletes to become an ambassador of Slovenia promoting the country as a tourist destination. The athlete will join forces with the Tourism Board (STO) to call attention to what he considers perfect spots across the country for cycling and leisure activities. Pogačar said Slovenia had been gaining on its popularity among foreigners. He believes cyclists and athletes in general have put Slovenia on the map with their accomplishments.
Slovenia earn important win against Belarus at handball worlds
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt - Slovenia wrapped up the preliminary round at the World Men's Handball Championship with an important 29:25 win against Belarus to earn second place in Group H and take a good position entering the main round. Slovenia are taking two points from the win against Belarus to the main round, where they will play against North Macedonia, Sweden and the hosts Egypt in Group IV.
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week focusses on efforts during epidemic
LJUBLJANA - The 15th European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week stresses the importance of vaccination against the Human papillomavirus (HPV) and the importance of regular checks also during the epidemic. In Slovenia, 19% less precancerous conditions were detected in women until the end of September compared to the average of the last three years as the screenings were suspended during the spring wave of coronavirus. Meanwhile, the immunisation against HPV has not been affected by the epidemic.
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STA, 11 January 2021 - The word of the year 2020 according to the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) is karantena / quarantine, followed by kolesarjenje / cycling in second and 14 dni / 14 days in third place.
Apart from the 14-day period of isolation due to risky contacts which was later shortened to 10 days, quarantine was also used to refer to the lockdown in general.
Cycling was, however, a form of protest against the Janez Janša government during lockdown.
According to Katarina Keber from the Milko Kosec History Institute at the ZRC SAZU, quarantine was an archaic word which has become modern again. It is derived from an Italian phrase quaranta giorni, which means 40 days. This was the period of isolation, first introduced in 1377 in today's Croatia's Dubrovnik. Later it became known in other seaports as well.
ZRC SAZU also declared the sign language gesture of the year, which is "coronavirus" or "Covid-19". "Zoom" was in second place and "Beethoven" in third.
In the poem of the year category, there were two winners and 70 entries. Leto Prekleto (Damned Year) by Ranka Ivelja and Naša Vojna (Our War) by an anonymous author.
The poems were to contain all eleven words that were shortlisted for the world of the year among the 400 entries. The finalists were cepivo / vaccine, quarantine, cycling, mehurček / bubble, positiven / positive, predihovalnik / ventilator, rahljanje / easing, šolotožje/ schoolsick, zoom, 14 dni / 14 days and neleto / non-year.
The voting took place between 4 January until noon today, when the word of the year was declared. It receive little more than 1,000 of the 5,060 votes cast. Last year, 2,139 people voted, selecting podnebje / climate".
Ne bom te pozabila, neleto prekleto,
ne bom te črtila, ne bom te ubila.
Jaz bom tvoj virus, neleto prekleto.
Plačalo boš, na glavo te bom obrnila.
Krohotalo si se, neleto prekleto,
s strahom morilo pozitivne in negativne, na ražnju obračalo naivne.
Raztegnilo si noč, stemnilo jutranje zarje,
v karanteno, neleto prekleto,
nagnalo si celo kolesarje.
Ampak ne, nismo se predali, neleto prekleto,
ljubili smo, kot že dolgo ne,
vse, kar smo izgubili,
bližino, objem, dostojanstvo,
v šolotožju, tišini in muki upora, neleto prekleto.
Jaz sem tvoj virus, neleto prekleto.
Prav potihem, da ne boš vedelo, sem ti zrahljala oklep,
ti iztrgala zoom, odvrnila vsak sum,
da se boš še povrnilo, neleto prekleto.
Ne 14 dni, prihodnje desetletje, neleto prekleto,
ne bom pustila, da boš dajal zavetje
tistim, ki so na predihovalnik pripeli vse nas, ves čas,
ki bi delali mehurčke iz pene laži, nagrabljene moči, neleto prekleto.
Jaz sem tvoj virus, neleto prekleto,
ne bom te pozabila, ne bom te ubila,
Samo na glavo te bom obrnila,
Poslušaj vnukec, malo se usedi,
ti bo nekaj zdaj razložil dedi,
pripravi škatlo si z bonboni,
je dolga zgodba o koroni.
Virus, vojna naše generacije,
pred začetkom velike inflacije,
ko ustavil se je celi svet,
ko morali smo prenehat živet.
So rekli, da bo hitro to minilo,
a se je 14 dni pomnožilo,
mine karantena prva, druga,
pa še kar se je vlekla kuga.
So prepovedali nam it v naravo,
kolesarjenje in vse drugo zdravo,
ko obljubili so ukrepov rahljanje,
se je spet poslabšalo stanje.
Življenje iz nas je bilo izžeto,
za vso človeštvo le neleto,
mehurček tu, mehurček tam,
pozitiven si šel na seznam.
Otroci rabili največji so pogum,
ko je šolotožje lajšal zoom,
propadali so lokali in podjetja,
večina že do prvega poletja.
Pa, moj vnukec, tole vedi,
da mlad zdravnik je bil tvoj dedi,
mi bili smo vedno v prvi vrsti,
vsak dan šteli ljudi v krsti.
Predihovalnik, OHIO, Venturi,
kisik je tekel po vsaki aparaturi,
roke smo redno razkuževali,
in v skafandrih anamneze jemali.
Vidiš, ušesa štrlijo mi na stran,
ni dovolj pomagal wuhobran,
maske smo dali na obraz,
če je bilo sonce ali mraz.
10 let je trajalo to stanje,
da so vsem razblinile se sanje,
cepivo je bilo sicer učinkovito,
a so se ga eni branili srdito.
Tako da, vnukec, ti tole povem,
rabimo še cepivo proti neumnim ljudem!
da boš nekoč, neleto prekleto, vendar leto.
STA, 17 January 2020 - The financial position of Slovenian households continues to improve as their assets had increased more than debt until the end of the third quarter of 2020. The surplus of assets over debt stood at EUR 45.2 billion, a rise by EUR 3.9 billion at the annual level, the central bank's report shows.
At the end of last year's third quarter, Slovenia's households reported assets of some EUR 60 billion, an increase of EUR 4.1 billion year-on-year.
Bank deposits increased by EUR 2.1 billion to EUR 24.1 billion, 90% of them were made at domestic banks and 73% of them were sight deposits.
Cash claims totalled EUR 5 billion, whereas insurance or pension scheme claims stood at EUR 8.1 billion. Equity investments were also on the rise, amounting to EUR 18.2 billion.
Household liabilities rose by EUR 198 million to EUR 14.8 billion. Accounting for the bulk of the liabilities, loans increased by EUR 186 million to EUR 13 billion. They were mostly taken out at banks (84%).
When it came to the situation of companies or non-financial corporations at the end of the 2020 third quarter, the deficit of assets over debt grew by EUR 130 million year-on-year to EUR 39.3 billion.
Companies held assets worth EUR 50.2 billion, up by EUR 1.1 billion year-on-year. Investments in equity grew by EUR 712 million to EUR 17.7 billion.
Liabilities meanwhile stood at EUR 89.5 billion, up by EUR 1.2 billion. A quarter of them were loans (EUR 22.3 billion), down by EUR 631 million. Some 41% of them were arranged at banks and 29% abroad.
This summary is provided by the STA:
PM thinks hard lockdown may not be necessary
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša thinks a hard lockdown that would involve limiting people's movement to within a certain radius around their home may not be necessary. "Due in particular to the introduction of rapid testing, it will be possible to weather the January-February wave without the most drastic measures," he told Planet TV on Saturday evening. Janša stressed that the effects of vaccination were starting to show as well.
569 infections confirmed in 3,067 tests on Saturday, 40 died
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 569 new coronavirus cases on Saturday out of 3,067 PCR and rapid tests combined, and 40 further Covid-related deaths, fresh government data showed. Compared with a week ago, the daily case count continued to improve. 1,220 persons were in hospital, down by four on Friday, including 188 patients in intensive care, a drop of five. The positivity rate for PCR tests was roughly 21%, an improvement from 24% on Friday. The 7-day average of new daily cases continued to decline, falling to 1,366 from 1,392 the day before. The figure is nearing the 7-day average of 1,350 that is set as the limit below which easing of restrictions can begin.
Slovenian triggers Frankfurt Airport evacuation
FRANKFURT, Germany - The German Federal Police reported it had evacuated and closed off sections of Frankfurt Airport due to a security threat posed by a Slovenian citizen on Saturday. The 38-year-old, who was not wearing a face mask, threatened police officers and resisted arrest. His abandoned luggage was deemed harmless. He was detained and taken to a psychiatric hospital, according to police spokesperson, who also said the Slovenian was considered the main suspect. His motive has not yet been established. The Slovenian police has been notified of the incident.
Potential staying of school closure would be health risk, govt says
LJUBLJANA - After a group of parents recently filed a constitutional review proposal of the closure of primary schools and kindergartens, the government said that if the Constitutional Court stayed the implementation of the decree, that would be contrary to all the prevention measures and would mean direct harm to public health. The parents meanwhile believe remote schooling is neither an appropriate nor a proportional measure.
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