Last Week in Slovenia: 11 - 17 October, 2019

By , 19 Oct 2019, 10:20 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 11 - 17 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, 11 October
        ATHENS, Greece - Attending the Arraiolos meeting of presidents from 13 EU countries, President Borut Pahor said the EU had been much more successful in addressing the economic crisis than it was now in addressing the migration crisis. In a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, they agreed to attend a ceremony marking 100 years since the Fascists burnt down the Slovenian National Home in Trieste next year.
        KOPER - Yusen Logistics, a Japanese supply chain logistics company, opened its subsidiary in the port city, thus becoming the first Japanese freight forwarder in Slovenia. The launch was an important step for the Slovenian port operator Luka Koper as well since it promotes the transport route via Koper.
        BARCELONA, Spain - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar called for empowering youth through education and intercultural dialogue at the Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona, which was attended by foreign ministers of northern and southern Mediterranean countries.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Defence Committee discussed the state budgets for 2020 and 2021, when funds for the national defence system will nominally rise. In 2020, the Defence Ministry will get EUR 545.85 million and in 2021 EUR 561 million. The latter figure is nominally higher but not if measured as a share in GDP, Defence Minister Karl Erjavec told the MPs.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee decided to ask the Court of Audit to review the 2016 sale of now bankrupt carrier Adria Airways to the German turnaround fund 4K, and to present its findings to parliament as soon as possible. The Court of Audit said it might do so next year.

SATURDAY, 12 October
        GORNJA RADGONA - The border communities of Gornja Radgona in Slovenia and Bad Radkersburg in Austria marked the 50th anniversary of the bridge linking them with a high-profile ceremony that sent out a message that the countries would like to make their cooperation even better. The ceremony was addressed by Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and the Governor of Austrian Styria, Hermann Schützenhöfer.
        LJUBLJANA - Zmago Skobir, the CEO of Fraport Slovenija, told Dnevnik in an interview that Adria Airways's collapse would have consequences for Ljubljana airport stemming from Adria's debt as well as from a loss of income, but he said he was not in favour of incorporating a new state-owned airline.
        LJUBLJANA - The Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizzair announced it would fly between Ljubljana and Brussels in winter despite its initial decision to suspend flights. Flights are scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 19 December on. On 16 October, SWISS launched scheduled flights between Zurich and Ljubljana.
        IDRIJA - Hidria Holding, the company controlling a group that mostly manufactures hi-tech products for the car industry, posted a net profit of EUR 12.3 million for 2018, down 21% over 2017 despite net sales revenue rising by 6.6% to EUR 266.1 million.

SUNDAY, 13 October
        VELENJE - Premogovnik Velenje, the mine operator supplying coal to the TEŠ thermal power plant, slipped back into the red last year after it managed to stay in the black for three years. It posted a loss of EUR 3.8 million, after generating a net profit of EUR 3.4 million the year before. Net sales revenue was down by 5.2% to EUR 108.6 million.
        TRIESTE, Italy - Sailor Gašper Vinčec and his crew won the Barcolana, the biggest mass start sailing regatta in the world. The crew also included Slovenia's best professional cyclist Primož Roglič.

MONDAY, 14 October
        LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec made a case for the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans in a letter to the European Council president and EU leaders. He argued that yet another postponement of the decision to start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania should not be an option.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court annulled part of the controversial amendments passed in January 2017 that define a special temporary regime on the border in the event of mass migration. The court believes that the provision violates the constitutionally-guaranteed principle of non-refoulement.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg/LJUBLJANA - Responding to the prison sentences handed in Spain to Catalan leaders, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said after an EU ministerial that Spain was a sovereign country and that Slovenia should not interfere in its internal legal order. Ex-Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel on the other hand spoke of an "enormous scandal" and analyst Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič of "distinctively political" judicial arguments. Cerar later called the sentences harsh and long.
        LUXEMBOURG - The European Court of Justice postponed by more than a month Advocate General Priit Pikamäe's independent legal opinion on the admissibility of Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia over its refusal to respect the 2017 border arbitration award. Pikamäe's opinion will be released on 11 December.
        LJUBLJANA - The Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry presented a draft housing bill that aims to make housing more accessible to those in precarious jobs, young families and the poor, as well secure more effective management of apartment blocks. It also makes it harder for owners to rent out their apartment through Airbnb.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian and Croatian health minsters Aleš Šabeder and Milan Kujundžić agreed that their departments would relaunch cooperation in treating children with congenital heart disease. This comes after Slovenia gave up the plan to establish a regional treatment centre with the help of a US-based surgeon.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's intelligence and security agency SOVA denounced "known and unknown perpetrators" to the State Prosecutor's Office and police on suspicion of unauthorized disclosure of classified information. The move comes after information about staffing at SOVA was leaked to the media following a visit by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission.
        
TUESDAY, 15 October
        LJUBLJANA - The International Monetary Fund downgraded its projection of growth of the Slovenian gross domestic product for this year from 3.4% to 2.9%, with the correction following the recent downgrade by the government macroeconomic think tank IMAD to 2.8%.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar expressed regret over France's opposition to North Macedonia and Albania joining the bloc, which prevented EU affairs ministers from initiating accession talks for the two countries.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission, which is examining allegations that PM Marjan Šarec intervened to secure a job at the SOVA intelligence agency for a friend, expressed expectation that the government would allow it to conduct an inquiry into the matter. However, Šarec insisted the next day that the public employees inspectorate and not the commission was responsible for investigating the allegations. The inspectorate is looking into the matter.
        LJUBLJANA - Constitutional Court President Rajko Knez denied the allegation by court judge Klemen Jaklič, who in his dissenting opinion to the court's decision on the amendments to the foreigners act accused fellow judge Matej Accetto of political bias and lying. Knez denied that Accetto mislead the court about his ties with the Modern Centre Party (SMC) when the court deliberated on whether he should exclude himself from decision-making about a 2017 referendum on the Koper-Divača rail project.
        FRANKFURT, Germany - Economy Ministry State Secretary Eva Štravs Podlogar, accompanied by the top executives of Slovenia's bad bank, met representatives of Lufthansa to analyse the aviation market in the wake of the receivership of the German-owned Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways.

WEDNESDAY, 16 October
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee discussed the draft state budgets for 2020 and 2021, hearing that the Foreign Ministry's budget will increase from EUR 94 million this year to EUR 100.4 million in 2020 and EUR 112.6 million in 2021 mostly due to Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021, which is to cost the country EUR 80 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee finalised a package of tax bills that slightly reduce the taxation of labour in favour of higher taxes on capital, after adopting last-minute amendments to counter criticism that the legislation amounted to a generous handout to the rich. The legislative package is slated for passage at the National Assembly plenary next week.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian police recorded a drop in illegal migration in September, however the number of illegal border crossings in the first nine months of the year is still 70.5% above last year's figure, at 11,786.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian PEN Centre joined the protest by PEN International against the prison sentences imposed on the Catalan writers and civil society leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart by the Spanish Supreme Court.
        LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec ordered an internal probe at the Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection, over its belated reporting about the discovery of a banned additive in minced meat sold in five supermarkets.

THURSDAY, 17 October
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Arriving for a two-day EU summit, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec welcomed the deal on an orderly Brexit reached by EU and British negotiators, expressing the hope that the deal would get support in the UK. He urged fellow EU leaders to give North Macedonia the go-ahead to start EU accession talks, or else the situation would get unpredictable.
        LJUBLJANA - The government got acquainted with two draft proposals for electoral reform after the current system was declared unconstitutional a year ago. Under the first proposal, electoral units would remain roughly the same, while electoral districts would be scrapped, and a non-obligatory preferential vote would be introduced. The other solution envisages changing the borders of electoral districts.
        LJUBLJANA - The Justice Committee discussed a report on courts' efficiency in 2018, mostly agreeing with the assessment by the Supreme Court president that courts were successful. MPs were meanwhile critical of lengthy court proceedings and the number of pending cases.
        LJUBLJANA - With the population of the jackal in Slovenia stabilising, the government struck the species from the decree on protected wild animal species, setting a transitional period until 1 May 2020 for the relevant rules to be adjusted.
        LJUBLJANA - A foundation stone-laying ceremony launched the construction of the long-awaited Ikea store in Ljubljana, the first in Slovenia. The store is to be completed in a year.

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