Last Week in Slovenia: 27 September to 3 October, 2019

By , 05 Oct 2019, 09:08 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 27 September to 3 October, 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, 27 September
        NEW YORK, US - PM Marjan Šarec made a strong plea for efficient multilateralism in his address to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. He stressed the importance of fundamental principles such as the rule of law and respect for human rights. He also called on delegates to back at November's UNESCO general conference Europe's first international AI research centre that would be set in Slovenia's capital Ljubljana.
        NEW YORK, US - FM Miro Cerar hosted ministers and high representatives of the Slovenian-sponsored Green Group initiative, an informal forum of foreign ministers from Slovenia, Iceland, Costa Rica, Cape Verde, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, which promotes green policies and encourages the transition to a green economy and the use of renewable energy sources.
        GENEVA, Switzerland - Slovenia presented its resolution on human rights education at the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council. The proposal envisages a multi-annual strategy for educating the young about human rights. The council's members addressed a wide spectrum of issues during the three-week session, including the human rights situation in Venezuela, Yemen, Myanmar, Sudan and Ukraine.
        LJUBLJANA - Employers withdrew from the Economic and Social Council (ESS) in protest of bills being filed in parliament past the ESS, whereas the head of the ZSSS trade union confederation Lidija Jerkič followed suit by resigning as ESS chair. PM Marjan Šarec later announced that he would attend a session of the ESS in person on 8 October in an attempt to restore social dialogue. He noted that the Left, which had filed the bills bothering employers, was an opposition party.
        LJUBLJANA - Hundreds of young people took to the streets as part of the Global Climate Strike and #FridaysForFuture movement, urging politicians to declare a climate crisis and come up with practical measures. The young decided not to meet state representatives given that nothing had improved since they held talks during the March strike, but Environment Minister Simon Zajc expressed his support for the protests across Slovenia, held by the Youth for Climate Justice.
        LJUBLJANA - Denis Stroligo, a law graduate, was appointed director-general of the Official Gazette publisher. This was after the ruling LMŠ party official Brane Kralj had been swept out of office for trying to secure the job for former MEP Igor Šoltes.

SATURDAY, 28 September
        LJUBLJANA - CEO of Mercator Tomislav Čizmić said in an interview with Delo that Slovenia's leading retailer would become the biggest company and biggest retailer of the newly-established Fortenova Group once it is transferred to the group. Mercator is currently a part of the debt-ridden Agrokor, whose healthy assets are in the process of being transferred to Fortenova Group.
        MURSKA SOBOTA - Murska Sobota Protestant priest Leon Novak was elected the new head of the Slovenian Evangelical Lutheran Church in a secret ballot. He will take over from Geza Filo in December. The head of the Slovenian Evangelical Lutheran Church is elected for a six-year term with the possibility of another six-year term.

SUNDAY, 29 September
        PARIS, France - The Slovenian men's national volleyball team won another silver at the European Championship after losing the final match to Serbia 1:3. After making an improbable run in Ljubljana, beating the European champions Russia and world champions Poland in the process, Slovenia had to concede to Serbia even though they won the first set.

MONDAY, 30 September
        LJUBLJANA - The management of struggling air carrier Adria Airways filed for receivership after the government said it was not ready to invest in the carrier under the current owner and in its current financial state. On news of the receivership proposal, the Civil Aviation Agency stripped the airline of its operating licence and all flights have been cancelled.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that FM Miro Cerar had ordered an internal investigation at the ministry over the leaking of classified information, in particular the names of ambassadorial candidates. The final straw is said to have been Dnevnik's reporting that Ambassador to Serbia Iztok Jarc would replace Slovenia's future EU Commissioner Janez Lenarčič as the country's ambassador to the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The coalition agreed that the abolition of top-up health insurance be made in two steps, with the first being the transfer of its collection onto the public health insurance fund ZZZS. The second step would be making what Health Minister Aleš Šabeder termed a solidarity scale for the collection of health insurance contributions. This is an alternative idea prepared by the health and finance ministries after the opposition Left had filed into parliament a bill of its own, which the coalition rejected.
        BLED - Slovenia and Croatia failed to agree to build a common repository for nuclear waste from their jointly-owned N-plant, as the inter-governmental commission in charge of overseeing the bilateral agreement on the Krško Nuclear Power Plant met for a session in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia posted a general government surplus of EUR 124 million, or 1% of GDP, in the second quarter of the year but revenue growth was outpaced by growth in expenditure in a first sign of economic slowdown. Consolidated general government gross debt at the end of the second quarter amounted to EUR 31.803 billion, or 67.7% of GDP.
        LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed a bill which limits certain expenditure on wages of civil servants and introduces an extraordinary 1% indexation of pensions in 2020 under the condition of 3% GDP growth for this year. The bill will be filed together with the remaining budget documents to be fast-tracked in parliament.

TUESDAY, 1 October
        LJUBLJANA - Adria Airways having filed for receivership, Ljubljana airport operator Fraport Slovenija announced that a network of flights comparable to Adria's could be set up within a year and a half. The Belgian air carrier Brussels Airlines, part of Lufthansa Group, announced it would restore its Brussels-Ljubljana link on 4 November.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Miro Cerar and his Luxembourgian counterpart Jean Asselborn noted the importance of multilateralism and respect for international law during Asselborn's official visit to Slovenia. The pair announced a new Slovenia-Benelux summit for later this year or early 2020. Asselborn also met Slovenia's other top officials.
        NOVO MESTO - Pharma company Krka inaugurated a EUR 55.6 million research and development centre that nearly doubles its R&D, and control and analysis capacities.
        PREVALJE - Lek, the Slovenian subsidiary of Swiss multinational Novartis, announced it would phase out antibiotics production in Slovenia's Prevalje in two years, moving it to Austria, while Prevalje would become part of Novartis's emerging global operative centre.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of 32 MPs led by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) asked the Constitutional Court to review the property appraisal act on the grounds that the issues found unconstitutional by the court in 2013 still remain after the act was changed in May 2019. This was as the Surveying and Mapping Authority released the results of a preliminary property appraisal. PM Marjan Šarec told MPs the government in its current form was not in a position to push through a real estate tax.
        LJUBLJANA - Calls to improve the economic and housing situation of the elderly marked the start of the three-day Festival for the Third Age on International Day of Older Persons. The Pensioners' Association issued a list of demands to the government, including for an annual allowance and an immediate indexation of pensions.
        LJUBLJANA - A new academic year started for close to 76,000 Slovenian students. In total, more than 48,300 new places are available this year at nearly 820 graduate, MA and doctoral programmes.

WEDNESDAY, 2 October
        LJUBLJANA - The Kranj District Court launched receivership for Adria Ariways. The creditors will have three months to file their claims. Unofficially, the company has run up EUR 90 million in debt. The receivership will put 558 people out of their jobs.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia's European commissioner-designate Janez Lenarčič was heard by the EU Parliament's Development Committee in a session that revolved around migration and climate crisis, as well as the role of the private sector and NGOs in humanitarian activities, education of child refugees and nuclear incident preparedness. According to sources in the European Parliament, he passed the test with all political groups backing him bar the far-right Identity and Democracy.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec denied the allegation by the Požareport news website that he intervened to have the SOVA intelligence agency hire a former female employee of the Kamnik municipality where he served as mayor before becoming PM. Šarec said she got the job in line with standard procedure. The allegation had been discussed by the parliamentary intelligence oversight commission, with findings yet to be presented.
        RIMSKE TOPLICE - President Borut Pahor met mayors as part of a congress of Slovenian municipalities to see whether it was worth proceeding with establishing provinces. Mayors told him there was no doubt Slovenia needed them to decentralise and get a fresh development impetus. Pahor will host a meeting discussing the issue in November, while a decision could then be made as he meets the prime minister and the presidents of both chambers of parliament in December.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court ruled in a 5:4 vote that the retirement and disability pension act is not unconstitutional in the part that prevents sole proprietors from receiving full pension if they continue working after reaching retirement age, stating intergenerational fairness, equality and financial sustainability took precedence over sole proprietors' interests.
        LJUBLJANA - Even though the agreement on joint patrols policing the Slovenian-Italian border ended, cooperation between the two police forces remains in place in certain areas, in particular in the Koper Police Department district, but not in the Nova Gorica Police Department district.
        LJUBLJANA - The two-day Slovenia Business Bridge investment and development conference, hosted by AmCham Slovenia at its 20th anniversary, started with a business breakfast discussing challenges in the management of family companies, and continued with a panel discussing strategies by investors.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian car dealerships Autocommerce, Avto Triglav and AC-Mobil, which are part of the holding company ACH 2, will be acquired by Swiss Emil Frey Group for an undisclosed amount, pending the approval of the EU Commission.

THURSDAY, 3 October
        LANY, Czech Republic - President Borut Pahor participated in a Visegrad Group summit plus Slovenia and Serbia which backed the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans. Pahor warned that the EU not expanding into the region "could have major bad consequences".
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed changes to the aviation act that create a legal basis for the state to subsidise crucial air links with the country if this proves necessary in the wake of Adria Airways collapse.
        LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed a package of tax tweaks that are meant to reduce taxation of labour to increase competitiveness, while slightly increasing the taxation of capital gains and rental income to offset for the loss of revenue.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a set of changes to the pension insurance act to equalise the pension base for men and women at 63.5% of the salary as of 2025 and regulating the status of pensioners who continue to work. Working pensioners will initially get 40% of the pension they are entitled to, along with the salary, but after three years their pension will drop to 20%.
        LJUBLJANA - The government proposed amendments to the labour market regulation act that increase the minimum monthly unemployment benefit while stiffening entitlement conditions. The amendments also introduce compulsory Slovenian language classes for non-Slovenian EU citizens registered as unemployed and a basic language skill requirement for the rest.
        LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek is taking over as a stand-in head of the Government Office for Development and EU Cohesion Policy after Iztok Purič stepped down on 20 Sep. Her SAB party said it would propose a minister candidate after the 2020 and 2021 budgets are passed in parliament.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Peter Jenko as the new director general of the Financial Administration for a five-year term. Jenko, current deputy director general, will take over on 27 November, succeeding outgoing FURS director general Jana Ahčin.
        LJUBLJANA - The news portal Siol.net reported that the Czech EPH group will enter the cargo arm of the Slovenian railway operator as a strategic partner under a deal worth roughly EUR 80 million. The entry is to be discussed in the coming weeks by the supervisory board of Slovenske Železnice, while the final say will rest with state asset custodian Slovenian Sovereign Holding.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's registered jobless total fell to 69,834 in September, down 2.4% from August and down 5.3% from September 2018. It is close to the all-time low recorded in September 2008 when 59,303 were registered as being out of a job.

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