Last Week in Slovenia: 30 August to 5 September, 2019

By , 06 Sep 2019, 12:30 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 30 August to 5 September, 2019 ProWritingAid

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

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FRIDAY, 30 August
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.5% in the second quarter of the year in real terms, or by 2.6% when adjusted for season and working days, the Statistics Office said. Both figures indicate a considerable slow-down compared to the previous quarter.
        LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of Telekom Slovenije, the majority state-owned telecoms incumbent, endorsed dividends of EUR 4.50 per share, which makes for a total dividend payout of EUR 29.3 million. This is in line with the proposal by management and significantly below EUR 14.30 per share that the shareholders secured last year.
        LJUBLJANA - The group around fuel retailer Petrol reported sales revenue rising by 15% to EUR 2.73 billion in the first six months of the year, with its net profit up by 4% to EUR 40.7 million year-on-year. Operating profit rose by 23% to EUR 66.1 million.
        MEŽICA - Tab, the Mežica-based maker of starter batteries for cars and industrial batteries, said it was mulling a partnership to branch out into the production of lithium-ion batteries of the kind used in electric cars. CEO Bogomir Auprih said the decision would be made by the end of the year.
        BLED - A Ljubljana-based company reportedly in Chinese ownership bought two four-star hotels, Kompas and Lovec, in the popular holiday resort of Bled. The value of the deal is not known, but news portal Siol said it could be around 10 million euro.

SATURDAY, 31 August
        DENVER, US - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec and Major General Alenka Ermenc, the chief of the general staff, visited the Colorado Army National Guard, the Slovenian Defence Ministry said, noting Colorado is a US federal state with which the ministry has been cooperating within the State Partnership Programme for 26 years.
        LJUBLJANA - Pilots at Adria Airways, Slovenia's airline in German ownership, announced the were planning three three-day strikes next month starting on 8 September. They want to force the management to sign a new collective bargaining agreement.
        LJUBLJANA - Some 200 animal rights and environmental activists urged Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec to resign, as they protested against the authorities' plans to cull endangered brown bears and wolves. They believe she is unaware of the role of sustainable agriculture and only promotes the arguments of farmers.

SUNDAY, 1 September
        WARSAW, Poland - President Borut Pahor was among world leaders that took part in a ceremony in Warsaw marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War on Sunday, commenting that the thought accompanying him throughout the commemoration was Antigone's "I am not here to share in hate, but in love".
        ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra - Slovenian rider Tadej Pogačar won the 9th stage of the Vuelta, the tour of Spain, in his biggest career achievement to date. His compatriot Primož Roglič came in third to advance to 2nd in overall rankings.

MONDAY, 2 September
        BLED - The two-day Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) opened with addresses by senior Slovenian and UN officials who highlighted stability and sustainability as well as fighting climate change as the main factors for Slovenia and the EU and the world. PM Marjan Šarec called for a unified and coordinated approach to global challenges such as climate change, water supply and food security.
        LJUBLJANA/BLED - President Borut Pahor and his visiting Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid noted genuine friendship between the two nations and many shared interests, as they addressed reporters after holding official talks. Pahor labelled the two countries as success stories. Kaljulaid said that Estonia and Slovenia advocated a strong Europe with clear goals such as the fight against climate change.
        PREVALJE - Lek, the Slovenian subsidiary of drug maker Novartis, aborted its EUR 150 million investment into expanding production in the northern town of Prevalje where Lek has been present for more than 40 years. The decision appears to have been made due to lower demand for generics.
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek was announced as the only candidate for the top job at the Modern Centre Party (SMC). The election congress will be held on 21 September.
        LJUBLJANA - Eligma, the Slovenian company providing smart commerce solutions, announced it had received a EUR 4 million investment from the Swiss Pangea Blockchain Fund and Bitcoin.com to finance its expansion in the global market.

TUESDAY, 3 September
        BLED - President Borut Pahor met a number of foreign senior officials on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum, including Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Matthew Palmer from the US Department of State. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met his Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell as well as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean Nasser Kamel and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.
        LJUBLJANA - In the wake of a rift between the minority government and its opposition partner the Left, there have been speculations about the coalition turning to New Slovenia (NSi) for cooperation, but the conservative NSi dispelled any doubts by saying it did not support the government and that there had been no talks about possible cooperation.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services will draw up a report on illegal migrations in collaboration with the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) to propose a set of measures, including stricter asylum legislation, its chair Matej Tonin told the press after the commission debated the impact of illegal migrations on organised crime on the basis of a DCAF report.
        LJUBLJANA - Two Slovenian researchers were among the of starting grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC). Nejc Hodnik from the Chemistry Institute received EUR 1.5 million for a project which focuses on the development of very stable nanostructure electrocatalysts. Matjaž Human from the Jožef Stefan Institute will get EUR 1.5 million to explore whether it is possible to successfully integrate lasers into living cells.
        PAU, France - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič won the tenth stage of the Vuelta a Espana race, the 36.2-km individual time-trial in France's Pau, taking the race leader's red jersey.

WEDNESDAY, 4 September
        ŠIBENIK, Croatia - President Borut Pahor has addressed a renewed appeal to Croatia to accept the final ruling of the arbitration tribunal on the Slovenian-Croatian border, indicating that this would affect the Slovenian government's decision on its membership of the Schengen zone.
        LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Ministry released an improved draft of the National Energy and Climate Plan, a key document setting the course of action for ten years until 2030, which should be sent to Brussels by the end of the year. Most notably, the country's goal is now to increase the share of renewables to "at least" 27% by 2030, as opposed to "a 27% share" in the first draft.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of activists helping asylum seekers accused Slovenian police of systematic infringement of international conventions by pushing illegal migrants back to Croatia and preventing them from filing asylum applications. Asylum Taskforce claims that refugee camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina are full of people who had been pushed back across the border, often in very violent ways.
        BLED - Iran does not see a chance of negotiation with the US until the US returns to the Iran nuclear deal and until it lifts sanctions, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has told the STA. He believes it is still possible to save the historic 2015 deal, but it will not be easy.
        LJUBLJANA - The ruling coalition and the opposition Left, which has been threatening to withdraw support for the minority government, have brought closer together their views on the Left's proposal to abolish top-up health insurance by folding it into mandatory health insurance as of 2021. However, detailed calculations are yet to be made taking into account long-term macroeconomic and demographic projections.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is up five spots in the latest biannual global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, standing at 36th place among 140 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF). In the 2019 survey, Slovenia scored an average of 4.3 out of seven points based on assessments in 14 elements of competitiveness in four key categories.

THURSDAY, 5 September
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar is known for saying the Slovenian police are fully in control of migration. "If this was not the case, we would have more illegal migrants in the country, at railway stations, cities and abandoned buildings," he told the STA in an interview. He also praised police cooperation with Croatia and Italy.
        BLED - The executive director of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Slovenian Nina Gregori, told the STA that asylum procedures should be made more efficient and swifter, and member states' standards for granting the asylum status should be unified.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a first draft of Slovenia's priorities during its stint at the helm of the EU in the second half of 2021. The priorities are divided into three groups, focusing on a safe and sustainable EU which is based on the rule of law, State Secretary Igor Mally said.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted legislative amendments to provide effective legal remedy against infringements in public contracting procedures and boost the independence of the National Review Commission. The amendments will make it possible to challenge decisions by the National Review Commission at the Administrative Court.
        LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit lambasted the Health Ministry for poor planning of ten emergency departments around Slovenia, an EU-subsidised investment valued at around EUR 76 million. It said the project was not based on factual analysis, disregarded the geographical needs for new casualty departments, and was planned in such a way the departments could not be completed in time or within the budget.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Borut Pahor conferred the Golden Order of Merit on the world-renowned Indian conductor Zubin Mehta, who was recognised for his contribution to music and the inspiring effort to connect people and nations with this form of art. The ceremony came ahead of a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mehta, which wrapped up the 67th Ljubljana Festival.

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