Last Week in Slovenia: 4 - 10 October, 2019

By , 11 Oct 2019, 18:02 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 4 - 10 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, 4 October
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Labour Committee nodded to a government proposal abolishing a special bonus for working welfare recipients. While the Left, also upset by the proposed tax reform, threatened to withdraw its support to the minority government, PM Marjan Šarec insisted the government remained welfare-oriented. He said the allowance plus bonus had come too close to the minimum wage.
        LJUBLJANA - The ZSSS trade union confederation stressed it did not support the government-proposed package of changes to tax legislation that are meant to reduce taxes on labour. The changes are supported by employers, with the Slovenian Business Club arguing that "wages in Slovenia are among the most taxed in the EU".
        ZAGREB, Croatia - Reports confirmed that career diplomat Vojislav Šuc had taken over as the new Slovenian ambassador to Croatia on Thursday.
        MARIBOR - Večer reported that the Maribor Higher Court had upheld a guilty verdict against Andrej Šiško, the leader of Štajerska Guard militia. In March, he was found guilty of trying to subvert the constitutional order through armed resistance and sentenced to eight months in prison, but has since been released after having served much of the sentence in detention.
        LJUBLJANA - A Slovenia-Japan business forum heard that economic cooperation between the countries is good, but there is still ample room to deepen it, for instance in the industrial sector, in energy and in ICT.
        KOPER - An officer of the Koper Police Department who was, according to unofficial media reports, the head of the district's narcotics task force, was arrested on charges of drug trafficking.

SATURDAY, 5 October
        LJUBLJANA - Coalition SocDems head Dejan Židan said the clash between the minority coalition and the opposition partner Left over social security issues was harmful and called for a meeting to iron out the differences. The SocDems sided with the Left in opposing the scraping of a bonus for working welfare recipients.
        BOLOGNA, Italy - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič of the Dutch team Team Jumbo-Visma won the single-stage Giro d'Emillia race to add to his numerous feats this year, which include the overall win at the prestigious Vuelta a Espana.

SUNDAY, 6 October
        TEHARJE - Retired Celje Bishop Stanislav Lipovšek stressed at the annual Teharje ceremony remembering an estimated 5,000 victims of war and post-war summary executions the need "for true reconciliation with the past" if Slovenia wants to build a safe and happy future. He expressed gratitude to all who made sure the execution sites around the country are finally being tended to.
        EDINBURGH, UK - Lučka Rakovec became the European lead champion in Edinburgh, adding another highlight to what has been a spectacular season for Slovenian sports climbing.
        LJUBLJANA- Slovenian boxer Ema Kozin won five world titles, having out-boxed Swedish Maria Lindberg at Stožice Arena in Ljubljana and defended her World Boxing Federation (WBF) Women's World Champion title of the Super Middleweight class.

MONDAY, 7 October
        LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec and Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj presented the 2020 and 2021 draft budgets in parliament, noting that, despite the expected slowdown of economic growth, the budgets would see a surplus, and that more money would be available than earlier. The National Assembly is expected to vote on both budgets at the end of November.
        BRNIK - The official receiver of Adria Airways started serving notices of job termination to the airline's employees, while pilots and cabin staff are reported to be interviewed with potential new employers. Adria's audited financial statement, released on 8 October, showed the German-owned Slovenian airline ended 2018 with a net loss of EUR 18.6 million, up from EUR 5.4 million in 2017.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary inquiry into the operations of the Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC) began its work by quizzing several individuals in charge of critical developments in 2013, when the country's bad bank was incorporated. The first hearings focused on the contentious selection of Deloitte as the auditor and on the criteria for the transfer of bad claims.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian trade unions urged employers to provide for decent work and reflect on the workers' contribution to economic growth and prosperity as World Day for Decent Work was observed. The Movement for Decent Work and Welfare State moreover highlighted young workers in precarious jobs, who earn less than half of their colleagues working on permanent contracts.
        LJUBLJANA - Former Health Minister Tomaž Gantar confirmed he had stepped down as vice-president of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) in September. Gantar, who is returning to medical profession and remains a DeSUS member, was critical of the way Karl Erjavec is leading the party, saying his style was increasingly less democratic.
        LJUBLJANA - The women's section of Slovenian PEN honoured Neda Rusjan Bric with this year's Mira Prize, an award it introduced in 2013 to honour outstanding women authors. An actress by profession, Rusjan Bric, 57, is an author who has directed a number of multimedia productions based on her own texts.

TUESDAY, 8 October
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia earned a new reproof for the slow uptake of EU funds as the country's member of the European Court of Auditors Samo Jereb reported that by the end of 2018 the country had only used 24.2% of funding available for 2014-2020. The Government Development and Cohesion Policy Office said Jereb had considered only the final phase of EU funds uptake and that Slovenia was on track to securing all of the funds available.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec helped end the boycott of social dialogue by employers and trade unions - caused by bills being filed into parliamentary procedure without having been discussed by the industrial relations forum - with a deal that will allow the Economic and Social Council (ESS) to also debate bills filed by the opposition.
        LJUBLJANA - It was confirmed that a consortium of Slovenian construction companies Pomgrad, Kolektor, SŽ-ŽGP, GH-Holding and Gorenjska Gradbena Družba has been chosen to build a new section of the rail line between Maribor and the Šentilj border crossing with Austria, a project valued at EUR 101 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The financial fund Alfi, the biggest creditor of the Tuš group with about a third of the claims, was reported being in talks for acquiring about 27% more of the claims to the struggling group around grocer Engrotuš.
        LJUBLJANA - The news web portal Siol reported that Fortenova, the successor of the bankrupt Croatian food conglomerate Agrokor, is devising a secret plan to slash up the Slovenian retail group Mercator into parts and take control of the cash flows between the core company and its subsidiaries in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia.
        LJUBLJANA - The Month of Design event, bringing together around 300 participants from 19 countries in Southeast Europe, got under way in Ljubljana with the Design Expo fair.
WEDNESDAY, 9 October
        LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec and his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel, the next president of the European Council, were optimistic the UK and the EU could still reach an agreement on Brexit as Michel visited Slovenia as he prepares to assume the new EU top job. Šarec expressed confidence the new president of the EU Council would respect the rule of law, including in Schengen zone enlargement.
        LJUBLJANA - Bilateral ties and Schengen zone expansion topped the agenda as Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok met his counterpart Miro Cerar, with the pair urging respect for international law and dedication to multilateralism. As for Schengen zone expansion, with Croatia tipped as the next country to enter, the ministers stressed new members needed to meet all conditions.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary foreign policy and EU affairs committees met for a joint session behind closed doors to discuss Slovenia's position on the expansion of the Schengen area. No formal decisions were expected to be taken, with the idea being to notify the committees and invite them to help form a position.
        LJUBLJANA - After issuing a set of recommendations last November to warn against imprudent consumer lending practices, Banka Slovenije said it will introduce binding restrictions in November which also stiffen conditions for consumer as well as housing loans.
        LJUBLJANA - The national intelligence agency SOVA, declined to give the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission information on the agency's staffing, requested in the wake of allegations PM Marjan Šarec had intervened to secure a job to a female friend. While SOVA referred the investigation to the public employees inspectorate, the opposition-controlled commission insisted SOVA staffing also fell under its purview. SDS head Janez Janša demanded that SOVA head Rajko Kozmelj resign.
        LJUBLJANA - Representatives of the Slovenian minority in Italy expressed concern over the law that will drastically reduce the number of seats in the Italian parliament as of next election, and believe that the urgent next move should be to secure parliamentary representation of the minority with a relevant law.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia remained 35th in the 2019 World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report, scoring 70.2 points on a scale from 0 to 100, up from 69.6 points in 2018.
THURSDAY, 10 October
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia called on Turkey to end its military operation in north-eastern Syria, protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed a bill on state guarantee for the loans taken out to fund the planned Koper-Divača rail expansion, and an expressway connecting the north and south of the country, two major infrastructure projects in Slovenia. The guarantee for the rail project was restricted to EUR 417m, and for the Third Development Axis at EUR 360m.
        LJUBLJANA - According to unofficial information obtained by the weekly Mladina, constitutional judges have annulled a controversial clause of the aliens act that would allow the country to take steps to suspend asylum law in the event of mass migration. The court told the STA the review was still ongoing.
        LJUBLJANA - A bill that would allow the government to subsidise air links vital to Slovenia after flag carrier Adria Airways was sent into receivership was defeated by the parliamentary Infrastructure Committee. On the same day, Adria's receiver published an invitation for bids for all remaining assets of the insolvent airline.
        SKOPJE, Macedonia - Relations between Slovenia and North Macedonia were in focus as PM Marjan Šarec visited Skopje. He reiterated Slovenia's support that North Macedonia be allowed to launch EU accession talks.
        LJUBLJANA - Right-wing parties organised a rally, headlined Save Slovenia. Protestors called against corruption and expressed their dissatisfaction with PM Marjan Šarec.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia exported EUR 2.32 billion worth of goods in August, which is 4.9% more year-on-year, while imports were up by 4.3% to EUR 2.3 billion. Trade surplus thus stood at EUR 20 million in August, for an exports-to-imports coverage of 100.88%.
        LJUBLJANA - The value of industrial output in Slovenia in August was 2% down compared to July and 0.8% higher year-on-year.
        MARIBOR - Marinka Štern was announced as the recipient of this year's Borštnik Ring for lifetime achievement, the highest accolade conferred in theatre acting. The 72-year-old stage and screen actor worked at the Mladinsko Theatre (SMG) and as also performed in television and radio productions and cooperated with other national and independent theatres.

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