Last Week in Slovenia: 22 - 28 November, 2019

By , 30 Nov 2019, 09:26 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 22 - 28 November, 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, 22 November
        LJUBLJANA - MPs passed the budget acts for 2020 and 2021 in a 49:41 vote in was the first major test for the minority government after it lost the support of the Left. The populist National Party (SNS) and both minority MPs provided the missing votes. The budget implementation bill was vetoed on 28 November, requiring a parliamentary revote.
        LJUBLJANA - A special social benefit for those on welfare who are low-income earners or do voluntary work will continue to be paid out, as the National Assembly failed to override the upper chamber veto of a government proposal scraping the bonus.
        LJUBLJANA - MPs unanimously confirmed the minimum hourly rate for student work from EUR 4.13 to EUR 4.56 net, overturning a veto imposed by the National Council last month.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the VAT act lowering the VAT rate for books and other publications from 9.5% to 5% as of 2020.
        LJUBLJANA - MPs passed amendments to provide effective legal remedy against infringements in public contracting procedures, speed up procedures and improve the independence of the National Review Commission.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly overrode the upper chamber's veto against a bill that will allow the holders of subordinated bank liabilities wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout to sue for damages. However, the law will not be implemented just yet as the central bank is planning to challenge it at the Constitutional Court.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The Slovenian-Turkish intergovernmental commission urged closer economic cooperation to further increase bilateral trade as it met in Slovenia. The two countries expect their merchandise trade to top one billion euro if the current positive trends continue.
        LJUBLJANA - Insurance group Sava reported a net profit of EUR 37.7 million for the first nine months of the year, a 29.3% year-on-year increase driven by high premium growth and improved cost-efficiency.

SATURDAY, 23 November
        NOVO MESTO - Slovenian police confiscated seven pieces of what were possible replicas of weapons from 41 members of a self-styled militia known as the Štajerska Guard on the border with Croatia near the town of Krško. Its members said they were protecting the border against illegal migrants.
        NOVI SAD, Serbia - Slovenian President Borut Pahor attended a youth forum of the Western Balkans with his Serbian and North Macedonian counterparts, Aleksandar Vučić and Stevo Pendarovski, expressing support in his address to enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans.
        LJUBLJANA - Dnevnik reported that Ivo Vajgl, a former MEP and foreign minister, had left the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), where tensions continue to increase ahead of the party's election congress in January. "There is no room in DeSUS for me any longer," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - Beanpole, a Russian historical drama directed by Kantemir Balagov, was declared the best film of the 30th Ljubljana International Film Festival (LIFFe).

SUNDAY, 24 November
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) returned to the top of party rankings for the first time since January in a poll aired by POP TV. The SDS polled at 15.4%, down from 15.7% in October, whereas the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) lost two points to 13.8%. The coalition SocDems returned to third place with a four-point gain to 9.5%, and the opposition Left added over a point and a half to 8.8%.
        BLEIBURG, Austria - The National Council of Carinthian Slovenians (NSKS), an umbrella organisation of the Slovenian minority in Austria, marked its 70th anniversary, with Slovenian PM Marjan Šarec saying that although divided by borders in the past, "we are all part of one nation" now symbolically and de facto united in the EU.
        WISLA, Poland - Slovenia's Anže Lanišek placed second at the first individual event of the new, 41st Ski Jumping World Cup season in Poland's Wisla, only a day after the Slovenian team placed fourth in the team event.

MONDAY, 25 November
        PARIS, France - The UNESCO conference general unanimously decided that the first UNESCO-sponsored international centre for artificial intelligence will be seated in Slovenia's capital Ljubljana. Slovenia plans to formally establish the International Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI) early next year.
        LJUBLJANA - The SOVA intelligence agency reported opposition New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin to law enforcement for having disclosed intelligence as the chair of the parliamentary commission overseeing intelligence services in a report on the border arbitration with Croatia. Tonin accused PM Marjan Šarec's camp of trying to discredit him and the commission, while Šarec argued it was the commission that was being abused.
        LJUBLJANA - Former central bank governor Boštjan Jazbec told the parliamentary inquiry examining potential wrongdoing at the Bank Assets Management Company that banks should have been bailed out before 2012 rather than in 2013. In this way, the erasure of junior bondholders, which he believes was in line with constitution, may not have have happened.

TUESDAY, 26 November
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted legislative amendments designed to crack-down on the activity of self-styled village guards and militias patrolling the border with the intention of stopping illegal migrants. The amendments will be fast-tracked
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec visited the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants and the appertaining asylum centre in the Ljubljana Vič borough, praising their efforts.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The SPIRIT investment promotion agency honoured top foreign investors in the country. Electricity meter maker Iskraemeco was named the best among big companies, ventilation company Systemair won the award in the long-term presence category, and maker of LED traffic displays Swarco Lea got the smart products and services development award.
        STRASBOURG, France - The European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) elected Slovenian MEP Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) the chair of a special task force for the Schengen Area. She announced she would strive to restore importance and reputation to the idea, and restore full life to the area without borders.
        LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Simon Zajc said new legislation in the making would prioritise the environment over creditors in case a company goes into receivership. The damage it has caused needs to be cleaned up, which is usually a long and expensive effort, he said.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed a bill providing more funds for arts and culture to facilitate its development. The field will get an additional EUR 122.6 million for investments in 2021-2027, or an average EUR 17.5 million a year, in addition from what its gets in annual state budgets.

WEDNESDAY, 27 November
        STRASBOURG, France - Janez Lenarčič, the European commissioner for crisis management, said he was a European commissioner but he would not forget he was from Slovenia, as he spoke to the press after Ursula von der Leyen's Commission was endorsed by the European Parliament. Slovenia's eight MEPs, all of whom voted for the new Commission, said it was time the new team got down to work.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Speaker Dejan Židan announced after a meeting with the president of the regional parliament of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Piero Mauro Zanin, that the Slovenian minority would get back Narodni Dom, a Trieste cultural centre of huge historical importance, in July 2020, 100 years after the building was burnt down by Fascists.
        LJUBLJANA - The most senior bodies of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) cleared two contenders to challenge Karl Erjavec for the presidency of the party at the January congress, Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec and jurist Borut Stražišar, ending speculations that their bids would be thwarted to ensure Erjavec is re-elected.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Health Committee surprisingly endorsed legislation that would effectively end the current system of compulsory and supplementary health insurance as of 2021 in favour of a fully-fledged single-payer system. The bill folds the current lump sum, roughly EUR 29 per month, into the existing compulsory payments.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee urged the central bank to reconsider the recently imposed curbs on consumer lending, an appeal that came at a session called by all five coalition parties after the central bank said consumer loans would pose a risk to the banking system if left unchecked.
        LJUBLJANA - Peter Jenko took over as the new director general of the Financial Administration (FURS) for a five-year term. He announced one of his goals would be to change the tax procedure act so that the names of major tax evaders could be made public.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian retail group Mercator said it posted EUR 6.21 million in net profit in the first nine months of the year, down 30.3% year on year. Mercator said the results were not fully comparable because of a change in accounting standards and last year's sale of a shopping centre and land in Serbia.
        LJUBLJANA - Abanka, Slovenia's third largest bank which was privatised in June, said it generated a net profit of EUR 42.5 million in the first nine months of 2019, a 20% year-on-year drop.
        STRASBOURG, France - God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya, a film by Macedonia's Teona Strugar Mitevska that involves Slovenian co-producer Vertigo, won the 2019 LUX Film Prize, given out by the European Parliament.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Handball Association sacked the head coach of the men's national handball team, Veselin Vujović, who was appointed in 2015 and led Slovenia to bronze at the 2017 Worlds. The team's recent period was marked by unconvincing performances and tensions, also because Vujović verbally abused a Slovenian player during a club game.

THURSDAY, 28 November
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec turned down a request by President Borut Pahor to convene a session of the National Security Council due to ongoing disputes between SOVA and the parliamentary body which conducts oversight of the intelligence and security agency. Šarec said he did not want to politicise the situation and said Pahor's request came "too late".
        LJUBLJANA - Simona Leskovar was relieved of her duties as a Foreign Ministry state secretary, unofficially in order to become Slovenia's ambassador in London. Her successor is Matej Marn, the ministry's director general for the common foreign and security policy.
        LJUBLJANA - The government allocated EUR 40,000 for emergency humanitarian aid for migrants on the Western Balkan route, and EUR 50,000 for the Sahel region in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Foreign Ministry said that the number of migrants on the East-Mediterranean route travelling to Europe via the Western Balkans doubled since 2017 and kept rising.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will send disaster relief aid to Albania in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. Under the decision taken by the government today, the aid is valued at EUR 126,000, including transport. Responding to Albania's request for help, Slovenia will send material aid, including tents, beds, blankets, sleeping bags and generators.
        ŠKOFJA LOKA - Germany's multinational Freudenberg signed a contract to take over Filc, a Škofja Loka-based manufacturer of needlepunch nonwoven textiles and laminated materials for the car and construction industries, the Slovenian firm said, but did not disclose the value of the deal.
        VRHNIKA - Two illegal Syrian migrants died as a car carrying eight Syrians crashed into the motorway railing on the Ljubljana-Koper motorway near the town of Vrhnika. The accident happened as the car started to skid while overtaking a lorry, with three Syrian citizens falling out of the boot. Two died immediately while the third was rushed to the hospital.
        DORTMUND, Germany - Slovenian Damir Skomina was declared the world's best football referee in 2019 by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS). Skomina was the first Slovenian referee to officiate a UEFA Champions League final, the game between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in Madrid in June.

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