Last Week in Slovenia: 8 - 14 November, 2019

By , 15 Nov 2019, 19:12 PM Politics

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

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FRIDAY, 8 November
        BERLIN, Germany - German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier thanked Slovenia for being a committed member of the EU along with Germany after meeting President Borut Pahor amid celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Pahor laid a wreath at the Berlin Wall Memorial and addressed a conference, describing the Berlin Wall fall as one of the most inspiring historical milestones of the 20th century.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the US formally pulling out of the Paris Agreement, highlighting that the climate accord represented a historical agreement which globally opened up a new platform for promoting sustainable development.
        LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec denied Slovenia intended to buy more than a dozen Valuk 6x6 armoured personnel carriers (APCs). Speaking at a session of the Defence Committee called by the opposition Left, Erjavec said the ministry Valuk APCs had been discontinued and had not been available for purchase for years.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Home Policy Committee debated illegal migration, with police representatives assuring the MPs that the situation was under control and that there was no need for time being to provide soldiers with additional powers to help the police control the border. A total of 13,832 illegal crossings were recorded by the end of October, up 69% year-on-year, says the report discussed at the session.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition-dominated parliamentary Public Finance Oversight Commission issued recommendations to the government to prevent political interference in state-owned companies as it debated the controversial resignation of the management of energy company Petrol. It urged the government to prevent any interference of political interests in staffing or decision-making in such companies and to resume privatisation.
        LJUBLJANA - The Telekom Slovenije group said it had posted a net profit of EUR 29.4 million in the first nine months, a 25% increase year-on-year despite a 6% drop in net sales revenue, which stood at EUR 507.4 million. EBITDA rose 9% to EUR 166.2 million and EBIT was up 29% to EUR 35.9 million.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Intra Lighting, a family-run business providing architectural luminaires and smart lighting solutions, won the third iteration of the Delo Business Star award. The company from Miren (W) generates 88% of its sales abroad. Between 2015 and 2018, its net profit increased from EUR 140,000 to EUR 3.1 million.

SATURDAY, 9 November
        VELENJE - Around 300 delegates of the junior coalition Social Democrats (SD) gathered for a programme and statute congress to confirm guidelines for future work based on social, green and development packages. SD president Dejan Židan said he wanted to take the SD further, as he had a clear and convincing vision, adding that the party would make a shift to "green and to the left".
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's first President Milan Kučan told Delo that the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago was a historic moment, with Europe being ready to overcome divisions from the Cold War, but that the subsequent processes have not been as reciprocal as some had hoped.
SUNDAY, 10 November
        LJUBLJANA - A public opinion survey commissioned by the commercial broadcaster Nova24TV saw the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) topping the party rankings with the support of 25.9% of respondents. The opposition Democrats (SDS) follow with 24.8%, and the opposition Left is in third place with 8.9%.

MONDAY, 11 November
        LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - Employees at the national postal company went on strike, demanding a 10% rise in wages and some 300 new staff. The first ever strike at Pošta Slovenije ended after two days as it was agreed the wage bill for workers handling mail would increase to EUR 7.5 million, much less than the EUR 12 million initially estimated.
        LJUBLJANA - Simona Drenik, a Foreign Ministry official who represented Slovenia in the Slovenian-Croatian border arbitration procedure, was singled out as the person whose actions allowed Croatia to obtain wiretaps that ultimately led to Croatia rejecting arbitration, showed a classified report compiled by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission.
        LJUBLJANA - The senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) remained the most popular party in the Delo poll (15.4%), but it is now almost neck and neck with the opposition Democrats (SDS), which got 15.2%. The opposition Left has climbed to third place (11.2%), seeing its support rating double.
        LJUBLJANA - Former PM Alenka Bratušek and her FinMin Uroš Čufer, who served from mid-March 2013 to mid-September 2014, defended the decision to bail out banks in December 2013, which cost taxpayers some EUR 5 billion, as they were interviewed by a parliamentary inquiry. Bratušek said the bailout had been key to avoid the European troika and encourage economic growth.
        KOPER - The supervisors of logistics company Intereuropa dismissed director general Ernest Gortan, citing a delay in introducing an adequate system of corporate governance and corruption detection and prevention. The portal Siol meanwhile said the real reason was EUR 1.6 million in suspicious payments by the company's subsidiary in Croatia.
        LJUBLJANA - Figures released by the Employment Service showed that the job market in Slovenia remains tight as the number of job vacancies remains high, with demand being particularly high for skilled workers with technological know-how.
        LJUBLJANA - A study by the EOS international organisation for claims management showed that Slovenian companies wait to get paid by their business clients for an average 81 days, highlighting this period is the longest among 17 participating countries. Nonetheless, companies do not consider this a threat to their business.

TUESDAY, 12 November
        LJUBLJANA - After the latest meeting of parliamentary parties on electoral law changes, it seems that a preferential vote system will be introduced. Public Administration Minister Rudi Medved said that the proposal enjoyed sufficient support to be passed in parliament, with the SocDems coming on board for the change.
        GENEVA, Switzerland - Slovenia presented the progress it made in human rights protection in the past five years at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). The member states praised Slovenia for meeting almost all of suggested targets given to the country during the previous review round - 138 out of 142.
        LJUBLJANA - Five bids came for the bankruptcy estate of Adria Airways, with the media reporting that ultralight aircraft maker Pipistrel was interested in the former flag carrier's flight school, Joc Pečečnik, who owns a gaming products maker, in the entire estate, and produce importer and real estate developer Izet Rastoder in the carrier's air operator's certificate (AOC).
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said after a meeting with his EU counterparts that the recent statement by French President Emmanuel Macron about NATO being brain dead was not helpful. He shared the view that cooperation between the EU and NATO had never been as good, and that there was a clear emphasis that NATO needed to be nurtured and strengthened.
        LJUBLJANA - Several civil initiatives turned to the OECD over the plans of the British oil and gas company Ascent Resources for hydraulic fracturing in eastern Slovenia. The move comes after the company announced it would demand massive damages from Slovenia for delays in obtaining a permit for the controversial gas extraction project.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec announced Slovenia would join one of the 13 additional 13 confirmed as part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defence (PESCO). The project in nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological oversight will be carried out together with Croatia, Hungary and Austria.
        VELENJE - The mayor of Velenje appealed to PM Marjan Šarec to prevent the head office of the household appliances maker Gorenje being moved to Ljubljana as planned by its new Chinese owners. Bojan Kontič sees the plans, announced by Gorenje in late October, as yet another step to centralisation.
        MARIBOR - The Maribor Higher Court said it had overturned the January conviction of two executives of the now defunct bank Probanka, who had been found guilty of fraud, quoting serious violations of procedure. Romana Pajenk, CEO of Probanka until September 2012, and Milana Lah, a member of her board, had received suspended sentences of 23 months with a four-year probation for defrauding two businessmen. The case will now go into retrial.
        LJUBLJANA - The designers of the Planica Nordic Centre received a gold medal for an architectural achievement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS).
WEDNESDAY, 13 November
        LJUBLJANA/KOPER - Reporers were told that Slovenian customs officers and police had seized 730 kilos of heroin at the port of Koper in October, the largest heroin bust in the history of modern Slovenia. The shipment from Iran, the street value of which is estimated at up to EUR 87 million, was bound for a company in Budapest.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Security Council called on the government to table legislation that would allow law enforcement to prosecute paramilitary militias, which have recently sprung up and started to patrol the border. The appeal comes the leader of the Štajerska Guard, Andrej Šiško, was sentenced to eight months in prison earlier this year for attempting to subvert the constitutional order.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - The General Court of the EU will start with oral hearings related to Slovenia's legal action against the European Commission for granting Croatia a derogation enabling it to use Teran, the name of red wine protected by Slovenia, on 3 December, showed the court's calendar.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court imposed another temporary injunction on the law and rules governing parliamentary inquiry. This means that, pending final decision, the inquiry into prosecution of former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler will not be able to interview prosecutors after the same restriction was imposed last month in relation to judges.
        ZAGREB, Croatia - High representatives for succession to former Yugoslavia held their first meeting in four years to review the implementation of the 2001 succession agreement and to broach all open issues. The next meeting is to be held in North Macedonia in June 2020.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian employers agreed at their annual get-together that the latest changes to the minimum wage called for a new pay model, which should be fair and agreed in social dialogue. They also called on the ministries of labour and economy to help them come up with measures to mitigate the expected consequences of the minimum wage raise, as they fear that many companies will be affected.
        LJUBLJANA - Pošta Slovenije, the state-owned postal operator, completed the acquisition of a 72% stake in logistics company Intereuropa, which cost it EUR 28.75 million. The company will now publish a takeover bid for the outstanding Intereuropa stock and for its subsidiaries in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
        LJUBLJANA - An OECD report on health indicators showed that life expectancy in Slovenia of 81.1 years is slightly above the OECD countries' average of 81 years. However, the country's cancer mortality and suicide rates are above the average, as 243 persons die from cancer out of 100,000 citizens in Slovenia.

THURSDAY, 14 November
        LJUBLJANA - Matjaž Merkan, the chairman and CEO of the state-owned telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije, resigned after less than two months on the job effective immediately. TV Slovenija has quoted anonymous people privy to information that he was not up to the job, while company rejected these reports and said he was resigning for personal reasons.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an action plan that lays the groundwork for accepting persons of Slovenian descent who have asked for repatriation from Venezuela. A total of EUR 1.2 million has been set aside for a project as part of which 17 requests for a total of 53 individuals have been received.
        LJUBLJANA - Zavarovalnica Triglav, Slovenia's largest insurer, said it had posted group net profit of EUR 59.1 million for January-September, a 1% year-on-year increase. Gross written premiums rose by a tenth to EUR 905.5 million.
        LJUBLJANA - 2TDK, the state-owned company managing the construction of the new rail track between the port of Koper and the Divača hub, announced a two-stage tender process for the EUR 1bn-plus project. Bids are scheduled to be opened on 20 December and, absent major issues with appeals, construction could start in the second half of 2020.
        LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec announced she would run for the leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at the election congress in January, thus challenging DeSUS long-standing leader Karl Erjavec, the defence minister.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council repeated its concerns about the risks inherent in the budget documents for the coming two years, even after these have been amended by the government. It said that there were still discrepancies between the projections of some items and the measures valid or proposed.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted amendments to the classified information act in a bid to improve security of such data, with the circle of officials with access to such data being narrowed in line with NATO and EU standards. The major aim was to improve the efficiency of the classified information system and enhance the protection of such data.
        LJUBLJANA - The spouses Iza Sia Login and Samo Login, the main founders of Outfit7, the company which has developed globally popular apps, continued to top the list of the richest Slovenians the 6th year running, with their assets estimated at EUR 689 million, the magazine Manager reported.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's showpiece at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice next year will be Common in Community, a project exploring the 70-year history of co-operative homes as centres of small-town social life, created by architects Blaž Babnik Romaniuk and Rastko Pečar, the Culture Ministry announced.

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