Last Week in Slovenia: 24 - 30 June 2022

By , 02 Jul 2022, 10:13 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 24 - 30 June 2022

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What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

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FRIDAY, 24 June
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - While Slovenia did not succeed with its proposal that Bosnia-Herzegovina be granted EU candidate status along with Ukraine and Moldova at the EU summit, PM Robert Golob said an "important step" had nevertheless been taken since the country has been put back on the EU's agenda.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob has told Delo that his first official bilateral visit will be to Germany in the first half of July. He also indicated Slovenia was in no hurry when it comes to the border arbitration agreement with Croatia. He said many European countries had open issues with their neighbours.
        LJUBLJANA - In an interview with the public broadcaster TV Slovenija, President Borut Pahor talked about the international circumstances, noting that the government is in for deliberation about how to remain an ally in helping Ukraine, while wisely "regulating sanctions so that we can help ourselves".
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy, a Slovenian network of NGOs that has played a major role in challenging controversial government restrictions during the Covid pandemic was among the recipients of this year's European Citizens' Prize conferred by the European Parliament.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry's strategic council held its maiden session to discuss the Ukraine war. After an almost three-hour debate, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that despite some differences in views, all members agreed the war should end as soon as possible.
        LJUBLJANA - Political activist Vili Kovačič launched a petition for a referendum on a bill that would allow the prime minister to shape the cabinet as he sees fit. The changes, expanding the number of ministries by three, are a disgrace for democracy, he said.

        LJUBLJANA - In an interview with the STA, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon expressed the hope that the war in Ukraine would end as soon as possible and announced a visit to Berlin as a sign of return to the core EU countries. She will also work on having good relations with Croatia, which is however unlikely to join the Schengen Area any time soon.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia received congratulations from world leaders on Statehood Day, with President Borut Pahor getting messages from Queen Elizabeth II, US President Joe Biden, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Emmanuel Macron, among others.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor conferred the Golden Order of Merit on Ludvik Toplak, a former rector of the University of Maribor, and Roberto Battelli, a former MP for the Italian minority, at a ceremony that also marked Statehood Day.

SUNDAY, 26 June
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - Ana Marwan, a Slovenian author who lives and works in Austria, received the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, a prestigious prize for works in German conferred by the city of Klagenfurt. She was honoured for Wechselkröte, a piece about a woman who lives alone in a rural area and finds out she is pregnant.

MONDAY, 27 June
        LJUBLJANA - The senior coalition Freedom Movement approved with more than 90% of votes mergers with the non-parliamentary parties the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) in an online congress. This comes after members of the LMŠ and SAB had already given the green light for the merger.
        LJUBLJANA - Nina Krajnik, a philosopher and psychoanalyst, announced she is entering the presidential race. She will run as an independent but will accept endorsement by like-minded political parties. Krajnik says her politics is different since she is creating space for "everybody's truth and desire."
        LJUBLJANA - The non-executive directors of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) dismissed Andrej Lazar and Kristina Šteblaj from their positions as BAMC executive directors and appointed Mitja Križaj and Žiga Pfeifer as acting executive directors.
        LJUBLJANA - Politics must never again overpower the police force or abuse it for its particular goals, Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar said as the country observed Slovenian Police Day. She intends to restore the public's trust in the force and has also apologised for what she sees as unacceptable actions under the previous government.
        RIJEKA, Croatia - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon visited Rijeka for his first official visit to the Slovenian community in Croatia. Arčon said the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad would like to be proactive in setting clear goals for the next four years together with members of the community.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson responded to a public letter from five Slovenian MEPs on Austria's decision to extend controls at the border with Slovenia. She agreed with the EU court that such checks can only be a measure of last resort and should be introduced for a limited period of time.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court added the mask mandate introduced by the previous government in closed public spaces in 2020 to the list of unconstitutional measures related to the epidemic, again stressing that legislative changes as opposed to only decrees were necessary for such interventions.
TUESDAY, 28 June
        LJUBLJANA - Marta Kos, vice-president of the Freedom Movement, officially announced her bid for the presidency of the republic. The first of the candidates so far to run with the support of a parliamentary party, Kos said she was "proud to be a representative of the progressive forces that restored people's dignity and hope for the future after two difficult years of backwardness."
        LJUBLJANA - A new advisory group for Covid-19 at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) was formed, a move that Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan said meant the management of the pandemic had been taken over by experts. The group will be headed by Mario Fafangel, the director of the NIJZ centre for communicable diseases.
        LJUBLJANA - The government approved motions for Slovenia to sign the NATO accession protocols of Sweden and Finland. The approval was given in a correspondence session just as a three-day NATO summit was starting.
        LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of the Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) and CEO Janez Žlak reached an agreement on early termination of service, the SSH said in a press release. Žlak's term will expire on 31 August, allowing undisturbed operations and decision-making.
        LJUBLJANA - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon held online meetings with representatives of Slovenian associations in Germany and the US. He invited all of them to actively participate in the European Capital of Culture 2025 project and announced regular meetings on a monthly basis.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by former PM Janez Janša against the statute barring of the Patria bribery case. While Janša felt denied a chance to prove his innocence, the court said he had no standing since statute barring is fully equivalent to an acquittal.

        MADRID, Spain - Prime Minister Robert Golob announced Slovenia would accelerate defence spending to reach the target 2% of GDP before the current deadline of 2030. He said this was required because of altered international circumstances.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Policy Committee endorsed motions for Slovenia to sign the NATO accession protocols of Sweden and Finland. Both countries decided to apply for NATO membership due to Russia's attack on Ukraine, and every country has the right to decide autonomously which alliance to join, committee members noted.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the communicable diseases that introduce parliamentary oversight of pandemic restrictions. While coalition parties backed the bill because it rectifies the segments of the law that were found to be unconstitutional, the opposition Democrats (SDS) voted against, and New Slovenia (NSi) abstained.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition SDS initiated a referendum on the act governing the composition of government in a bid to thwart the new government's plans to expand the number of ministries. Collection of the required 40,000 signatures is expected to start in September.
        LJUBLJANA - MPs rejected a series if bills tabled by the opposition, including a proposal to scrap the compulsory subscription fee for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, and changes to the act governing the STA that would put the government rather than the National Assembly in charge of appointing supervisors.
        LJUBLJANA - It was announced that Boštjan Mlačnik, who has so far served as the head of investigations, would take over from Petra Grah Lazar as director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
        LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology decided to distribute almost EUR 1.83 million to ten airlines in a public tender for subsidies to improve Slovenia's air connectivity with the world. The selected airlines will perform more than 700 flights between Ljubljana and other countries as part of the deal.
        LJUBLJANA - After her predecessor launched proceedings for the eviction of several NGOs renting out the Culture Ministry's premises in Ljubljana's Metelkova Street, Asta Vrečko, the new culture minister, announced that the procedures would be terminated.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will receive EUR 1.49 billion in grants from the EU post-Covid recovery mechanism, which is almost EUR 286 million less than the initial allocation, show recalculations by the European Commission. The lower amount is a result of more favourable economic trends in 2020 and 2021 than originally estimated.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate accelerated to 10.4% in June, up 2.3 percentage points from May, driven by rising prices of petroleum products, food and electricity, the Statistics Office said. The monthly rate stood at 2.7%, an increase of 0.7 percentage points on the back of higher prices of electricity, vacation packages and food.
        MADRID - Prime Minister Robert Golob warned NATO not to overlook the Western Balkans as it strengthens its presence on its eastern flank as part of a new deterrence and defence posture. In the framework of NATO's new deterrence and defence posture, Slovenia is willing to "act primarily where it can contribute the most" - in the Western Balkans, he said.
        MADRID, Spain - Slovenia wants Croatia to enter the Schengen zone as soon as possible, but numerous dilemmas must be resolved since the Schengen zone does not currently work, Prime Minister Robert Golob said.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly launched a parliamentary inquiry into suspicions of illegal financing of "party political propaganda in the media with funds of state-owned companies, state institutions or foreign institutions or entities" targeting media owned by or linked with the SDS.
        LJUBLJANA - Milan Krek, the director of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) handed in his resignation citing "unbearable political pressure" by the new government. The council of the NIJZ appointed Branko Gabrovec, who has been with the NIJZ since 2014, acting director.

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