Last Week in Slovenia: 6 - 12 September, 2019

By , 14 Sep 2019, 10:40 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 6 - 12 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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This summary was prepared by the STA:

FRIDAY, 6 September
        LJUBLJANA - Representatives of all three branches of government taking part in a debate on the state of the rule of law in Slovenia agreed that the separation of powers was key for the implementation of the rule of law. Judges were critical of interference in the judiciary and failure to implement Constitutional Court rulings.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's largest banking group, NLB saw its half-year-net profit fall by 10% year-on-year to EUR 94.3 million despite higher interest and non-interest income. Profit before impairments and provisions was up 13% to EUR 116 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The German-owned Slovenian carrier Adria Airways reached a deal with pilots to prevent a series of strikes that were due to begin in two days, agreeing a draft of a new collective bargaining agreement, which now needs to be endorsed by members of the pilots' trade union.
        LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek denied the allegation that she personally interfered in a procedure to appoint the CEO of SODO, the state-owned electricity distribution system operator, while defending the government's decision on 14 August to change the SODO articles of association so that the supervisory board needs the government's consent to appoint or dismiss the CEO.
        BILBAO, Spain - Slovenia proved a cycling tour superpower as Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) won the 13th stage of the Vuelta ahead of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who increased the overall lead. In the all-Slovenian finish on the hellishly steep final climb, Pogačar won his second stage victory to advance to the 3rd spot overall and put on the best young rider's white jersey.

SATURDAY, 7 September
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign companies accounted for 5.6% of all companies in Slovenia in 2017 but created over 27% of value added, roughly on a par with 2016. These companies employed almost 26% of all workers, and allocated 39% of their expenses in Slovenia for R&D, the Statistics Office's data show.

SUNDAY, 8 September
        ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar - Pope Francis visited Akamasoa, a village founded by the Slovenian missionary Pedro Opeka in Madagascar as part of his south African tour, meeting Opeka and several other Church dignitaries along with several thousand people.
        METLIKA - Several thousand firefighters and other visitors gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of organised firefighting in Slovenia. In his keynote, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, himself a volunteer firefighter, stressed that the umbrella Firefighters' Union was the biggest humanitarian organisation in the country.
        PODLESJE - A mass and commemoration were held on the site of a short-lived forced-labour camp near Kočevje at which post-war Communist authorities interned women. It was in operation from July 1949 and October the same year and held 800 women and girls, either suspected of having been associated with the anti-Communist Home Guards or deemed politically dangerous.

MONDAY, 9 September
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Coalition party officials and government members conducted the last joint debate on the budget for 2020 and 2021 before the government submits budget documents to parliament. Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj said the government would wait until a fresh economic outlook is released on 19 September. Public spending in 2020 is capped at EUR 10.45 billion.
        LJUBLJANA - National Assembly Speaker Dejan Židan hosted his Latvian counterpart Inara Murniece for talks, after which the pair called for a strong and effective EU where the voice of each member counts. The Latvian speaker, who also met President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, thanked Slovenia for taking part in NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence mission in Latvia.
        LJUBLJANA - A poll by Delo gave the government an average rating of 2.96 on a 1-5 scale in September, up from 2.91 in August and 2.16 when it took office a year ago. The improvement in the government rating was also reflected in higher ratings for PM Marjan Šarec's LMŠ party, which gained more than two points to 18.9%, over 5 points ahead of the opposition Democrats (SDS).
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia exported EUR 3.962 billion worth of goods in July, the highest monthly value on record as the trade surplus hit a record level of EUR 937 million. Merchandise exports were 46.3% higher than in July 2018 and imports rose by 16.4% to EUR 3.025 billion, the Statistics Office reported.
        LJUBLJANA - Lek, a subsidiary of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, inaugurated new development laboratories at the Slovenia development centre in Ljubljana. Valued at EUR 7.5 million, the investment will allow development sterile solid dosage forms to treat cancer patients.
        VRHNIKA - The Environment Ministry annulled the August decision by the building inspectorate which forced hazardous waste treatment company Kemis to suspend its operations. Kemis can resume business, while the inspectorate need to decide on the matter again.
        LJUBLJANA - History of Love (Zgodovina Ljubezni), a meditative drama by Sonja Prosenc, was picked as Slovenia's candidate for the nomination for the 2020 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film by a judging panel of the Association of Slovenian Filmmakers.
        LJUBLJANA - The national football team scored a third consecutive win in the qualifiers for the 2020 Euro by defeating Israel at home 3:2 to advance to second place in Group G behind the leading Poland, whom they beat 2:0 in Ljubljana on 6 September.

TUESDAY, 10 September
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced the distribution of posts in the new commission, assigning the crisis management portfolio to Slovenia's commissioner-designate Janez Lenarčič. First political reactions indicate the portfolio is perceived as lightweight, although the opposition Democrats (SDS) leader Janez Janša said it was one of the hardest and most thankless because it involved dealing with the controversial issue of migration.
        MOSCOW, Russia - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec paid an official visit to Russia with a sizeable government and business delegation. After talks, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev suggested Slovenia should help in the restructuring of now mostly Russian-owned Croatian conglomerate Agrokor and its Slovenian subsidiary, the retailer Mercator. Šarec also attended the unveiling of a monument to Slovenian soldiers who perished on Russian soil in both world wars. Accompanying Šarec, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar commented that the visit was important from the economic aspect, but he did not think it would affect Slovenia's relations with the US or the EU.
        MOSCOW, Russia - The energy company Petrol signed cooperation contracts with Russia's T Plus Grupa and Schneider Electric on the sidelines of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's visit. The projects will focus on optimisation of district heating.
        CELJE - The 52nd International Trade Fair got under way, hosting more than 1,500 exhibitors from over 30 countries and almost all continents until 15 September. A sizeable delegation came from Montenegro, this year's partner country, headed by Economy Minister Dragica Sekulić.
        LJUBLJANA - The latest survey by temping agency Manpower put Slovenia's seasonally-adjusted net employment outlook for the final quarter of the years at 17%, one of the most upbeat forecasts in the region and level with a year ago.
        KOPER - The 34th Vilenica International Literary Festival got under way with an event featuring the Vilenica Prize winner Dragan Velikić, one of the most esteemed Serbian authors, and the Slovenian author in focus, rebel poet Esad Babačić. The festival brought together more than 20 authors from 15 countries.

WEDNESDAY, 11 September
        LJUBLJANA - A group of 28 scholars urged President Borut Pahor to resign or be impeached over his comments at the Bled Strategic Forum which suggested that Turkey and Ukraine should not count on full-fledged EU membership. Pahor's office said the stance on a special status of Turkey and Ukraine within the EU had been known at home and abroad for several years, while Foreign Minister Miro Cerar reiterated that Slovenia supported Turkey's accession to the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Defence Committee green-lighted the national security strategy resolution for the plenary discussion, but passed an amendment of the opposition Democrats (SDS) to throw out a provision granting additional powers to the SOVA intelligence service.
        LJUBLJANA - The government and public sector trade unions launched a fresh round of talks aimed at reforming the public sector pay system toward a more performance-based remuneration system. One of the government's proposals is that employees could get up to 30% higher pay based on performance, but it would also slow down their promotion to higher pay brackets, which is now all but automatic.
        LJUBLJANA - The EU's statistics office Eurostat projected that Slovenia's population will decrease by 13% to below 1.8 million in 2100. Almost a third of the population is projected to be aged 65 or older at the end of the century.

THURSDAY, 12 September
        LJUBLJANA - The government's economic think-tank, IMAD, downgraded Slovenia's GDP growth forecast for 2019 by 0.6 points to 2.8% for 2019 and by 0.1 points to 3% for 2020. In response, Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj announced cuts in planned budget expenditure in 2019 and 2020.
        LJUBLJANA - Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, started an official visit to Slovenia ahead of a two-day conference of the chiefs of defence from NATO member countries. Meeting Chief of the General Staff, Major General Alenka Ermenc, President Borut Pahor and PM Marjan Šarec, the officer commended Slovenia and its armed forces on their 15 years of contribution in support of the alliance's values and mission.
        LJUBLJANA - On the back of the news that the Supreme State Prosecution had asked the Constitutional Court to examine whether the parliamentary inquiry into prosecution of former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler may be in breach of the constitutional provision of division of power, the Judicial Council said it would do the same, arguing that the legislative branch overstepped its powers.
        LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Dragica Hržica as chief environment ans spatial planning inspector, replacing her with Dragan Matić, a former MP of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC). Hržica's office had been criticised over its allegedly faulty oversight of waste processing facilities.
        LJUBLJANA - The commercial broadcaster POP TV said it had sacked a sports journalist after he was arrested by police on the border with Croatia on suspicion of smuggling illegal migrants to Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - Despite slightly improving its economic freedom, Slovenia remained 67th among 162 countries in the latest Economic Freedom of the World report, compiled by the Canadian libertarian Fraser Institute.
        MARIBOR - Andrej E. Skubic won the Večernica Prize for best youth and children's book, conferred by the newspaper publisher Večer, for Grandma Does's Have Phone Any More, the second part of his book series Trio Golaznikus.
        LJUBLJANA - The Men's European Volleyball Championship got under way in Slovenia, one of four host countries. Slovenia hope to win the tournament, an improvement on the 2015 silver medal.


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