Last Week in Slovenia: 16 - 22 August, 2019

By , 23 Aug 2019, 16:21 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 16 - 22 August, 2019 JL Flanner

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

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FRIDAY, 16 August
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry rejected Croatia's recent statements about the border arbitration between Slovenia and Croatia, saying new Croatian Foreign Minister Goran Grlić Radman had uttered "several non-truths". He, for instance, alleged Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, while still prime minister, had almost accepted in December 2017 Croatia's offer that the border issue be resolved bilaterally.
        LJUBLJANA - Police data showed that almost 1,750 illegal crossings of the border were recorded in Slovenia in July, the highest since the 2015/2016 migration wave.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor appointed on 12 August Agriculture Ministry State Secretary Tanja Strniša Slovenia's new ambassador to the Czech Republic, to replace Leon Marc, according to the latest issue of the National Gazette.
        LJUBLJANA - New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin responded to the criticism of the centre-right opposition party's announced repositioning to the centre by saying it would be hard for the NSi to be anything else, "since those left of us are socialists and those to the right nationalists and global warming deniers".
        LJUBLJANA - Animal rights group AniMa handed to Environment Minister Simon Zajc a petition signed by almost 13,500 people urging against the planned culling of bears and wolves. However, Zajc said the emergency law on culling was needed to get the populations back to a level that is also favourable for locals in the areas affected by an increasing number of wolf attacks on farm animals.

SATURDAY, 17 August
        LJUBLJANA/BELTINCI - Slovenia observed Prekmurje Reunification Day, a national holiday celebrating the day 100 years ago when the country's northeastern-most region of Prekmurje was united with the rest of the nation after WWI following more than a millennium under foreign rule. At a state ceremony in Beltinci, PM Marjan Šarec called against self-serving politics of hate and urged a focus on development.
        LJUBLJANA/ŠKOFJA LOKA - Ivan Oman, a key figure of Slovenia's independence, died, aged 89. Oman was the first president of the Slovenian Farmers' Union, a party established in May 1988 and later renamed the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), and a member of the Slovenian collective presidency (1990-1992). Oman was laid to rest with state honours on 21 August.

SUNDAY, 18 August
        SALZBURG, Austria - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan began a two-day visit to Salzburg, where he discussed with his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka the Western Balkans, the EU's future, and climate change. Sobotka also proposed that Austrian and Slovenian historians formed a special panel to study the two nations' shared history in a bid for the Slovenians and Austrians to better understand each other.
        IMOLA, Italy - Three races before the end of the season, Slovenian motocross star Tim Gajser, 22, won his second championship title at the MXGP after winning the first one in 2016, his first year in the top motocross class.
        PORTOROŽ - Slovenia's best tennis player, Aljaž Bedene, won the ATP Challenger Slovenia Open, beating Norwegian Viktor Durasovic, 7:5 and 6:3, in what is the 16th Challenger series title for the 30-year-old, who climbed ten spots to 80th in ATP world rankings.

MONDAY, 19 August
        LJUBLJANA - An unofficial media report suggested the European Commission will soon notify NLB, Slovenia's largest bank, that it has to sell its life insurance business NLB Vita, which is co-owned with KBC Insurance. NLB Vita will have to be sold as part of commitments for Slovenia's failure to privatise its entire agreed stake in NLB - 75% minus one share - by the end of 2018. The privatisation process was completed only this June.
        BRNIK - Humanitarian activist and Republican Party supporter Lynda Blanchard, the new US ambassador in Ljubljana, arrived in Slovenia after her predecessor Brent Hartley left in July 2018. Speaking to reporters upon arrival, Blanchard said she hoped to make the US and Slovenia stronger partners.
        LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Simon Zajc met hazardous waste treatment companies to find a solution after a major company in the business, Kemis, had to stop accepting waste after being ordered by inspectors to remove the facilities rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2017. Zajc said Kemis's counterparts could step in to accept 14,000-15,000 tonnes of toxic waste. He also ordered Kemis's appeal be handled as a matter of priority.

TUESDAY, 20 August
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's bank NLB and Belgium's KBC Insurance said they were examining options to sell their insurer NLB Vita after unofficial media reports suggested NLB will have to sell it because the state missed the end-2018 deadline to privatise NLB. NLB apparently had the option of keeping NLB Vita, but at the cost of the European Commission extending its ban on takeovers by 18 months. Meanwhile, in an interview given before the news of NLB Vita, NLB chairman Blaž Brodnjak told the STA the bank was looking to strengthen its role as a key regional player, including through takeovers. It is said to be enying Serbia's second-largest bank, Komercijalna Banka.
        LJUBLJANA - Major General Alenka Ermenc, chief of the general staff, said not all the shortcomings which had piled up for the past 28 years could be eliminated in a year's time, as she met the press to present the situation in the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF). She listed the army's professionalisation, which had never been fully completed, and delays in its modernisation, as the main issues, noting it would be possible to reverse the current negative trends with more funds.
        CELJE - The Celje Higher Court cleared Mirko Krašovec, the former treasurer of the Maribor Archdiocese, of all charges related to a misuse of EUR 1.8 million in EU funds for the renovation of the Church-owned Betnava mansion ten years ago, as it upheld the first-instance court's ruling in the second retrial in the case.
        LJUBLJANA - The group around insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav reported a EUR 34.7 million net profit for the first half of 2019, a 16% year-on-year rise. Consolidated gross premiums were up 10% to EUR 630 million and net premium income by 6% to EUR 491.8 million.
        HACHIOJI, Japan - Slovenia's Janja Garnbret, 20, secured the world champion title in the combined, an Olympic discipline, at the IFSC Climbing World Championships, after she won gold in the women's lead discipline and defended the title of bouldering world champion. She thus became the first ever climber to complete a hat trick in a single championship.

WEDNESDAY, 21 August
        LJUBLJANA - Gabrijel Škof, director general of insurer Adriatic Slovenica, was appointed new chairman of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), which manages state assets in excess of EUR 10 billion. The appointment of the fourth SSH chairman since the holding's establishment in June 2014 rounds off a series of replacements at SSH and the Bank Assets Management Company.
        LJUBLJANA - Ten telecommunications operators announced they would provide around 47,500 more households in Slovenia's rural areas with access to broadband in the coming three years. This leaves around 50,000 more households in so-called white areas, where funding of infrastructure will have to be provided by the state.
        LJUBLJANA - Happy with Tuesday's meeting with PM Marjan Šarec, the Trade Union of Farmers decided to suspend its protests against ineffective government measures against wolf attacks on farm animals, and to withdraw its demand for the resignation of the environment minister.
        ČRNOMELJ - Private broadcaster POP TV reported Slovenia had started erecting another 40 kilometres of fence along the border with Croatia in a bid to curb illegal migrations. Once the EUR 4.8 million project is completed, more than 200 kilometres of Slovenia's 670-kilometre border with Croatia will be fenced in.
        LJUBLJANA - In a letter to the culture minister, Slovenian Writers' Association president Dušan Merc decried the state of book publishing due to a marked drop in funding. He believes Slovenia is not ready for the fairs in Bologna and Frankfurt, where it will be the guest of honour in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
        NOVA GORICA - A wildfire broke out near the Cerje war memorial just south of Nova Gorica, destroying some 100 hectares of forest as it spread, also across the border to Italy. Firefighters managed to contain it during the night and put it out the next day.

THURSDAY, 22 August
        KRŠKO - PM Marjan Šarec called for building a second reactor at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) as he visited Slovenia's sole nuclear power station, which is slated for closure in 2043. This is the strongest signal from a Slovenian government about its future policy on nuclear energy in a while, and a sign the country does not intend to renounce nuclear energy.
        LUBLJANA - The European Commission confirmed the EU Cohesion Fund is to contribute EUR 101 million for the renovation of the 16-kilometre rail section between Maribor and Šentilj on the border without Austria, the project worth a total of EUR 254 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Sava Insurance Group, Slovenia's second largest, generated EUR 22.6 million in net profit in the first half of the year, a 59.3% year-on-year rise coming as gross premiums written were up 9.1% to EUR 336.8 million.
        LJUBLJANA/LENDAVA - On the eve of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes, several events were held to mark the memorial day, with President Borut Pahor honouring victims in Lendava, where he laid a wreath at a memorial to WWII and post-WWII victims.

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