Last Week in Slovenia: 28 November to 5 December, 2019

By , 06 Dec 2019, 15:30 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 28 November to 5 December, 2019

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

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FRIDAY, 29 November
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy expanded by 2.3% at the annual level in the third quarter of the year or a seasonally adjusted 2%, the slowest rate in three years, as growth continued to decelerate in line with predictions, the Statistics Office said.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a mini pension reform, amendments to the pension and disability insurance act that will raise the pension base for men to equate it with women's and offer incentives to those who continue working after meeting retirement requirements.
        LJUBLJANA - Inspectors reported irregularities in the hiring practices at the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency (SOVA), in a case connected with the employment of a friend of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec. But Lidija Apohal Vučkovič, the chief inspector, said they were not of the kind that had been mentioned in the public and did not warrant action beyond guidance for the future.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the labour market regulation act that significantly increase the minimum monthly unemployment benefit while stiffening eligibility conditions across the board. The minimum benefit will be raised from EUR 350 to EUR 530 gross.
        LJUBLJANA - NLB, Slovenia's largest bank, posted a group net profit of EUR 162.2 million for the first nine months of 2019, up 2% over the same period last year. All banks within the group generated profit, with the parent company's profit rising by 21% to almost EUR 163 million.
        KOPER - Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's sole maritime port, reported its nine-month net profit drop by 29% year-on-year to EUR 34.5 million. Net sales revenue rose by 3% in the period to EUR 173.8 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Consumer prices in Slovenia grew at an annual rate of 1.4% in November, which is level with the month before. On the monthly level, prices grew by 0.1%. The annual inflation was driven by higher prices of services and goods, the Statistics Office said.

SATURDAY, 30 November
        MARIBOR - PM Marjan Šarec dismissed criticism about border security and said police were doing a fine job protecting the EU's external border, as he addressed a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of Operation North, a police campaign which prevented a disputed rally that Serbian nationalists wanted to stage in Ljubljana.
        LJUBLJANA/KOPER - The police officer who was injured in the 2016 shooting at the Izola general hospital is suing the state for damages, media reported. He is still on a sick leave, while the damages he received from insurers did not cover his costs. He also wants compensation for physical and emotional pain.

SUNDAY, 1 December
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor commented on the latest row over the parliamentary report on the arbitration intelligence scandal in a televised interview, finding that while the report was useful for the country, its publication at the moment was not.
        MURSKA SOBOTA - The new religious leadership of the Slovenian protestant community formally took over as Leon Novak was installed bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church succeeding Geza Filo and Geza Erniša before him. Novak likened himself to the captain of a ship using the Bible as a navigational aid.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian police recorded 14,066 illegal crossings of the border in the first ten months of the year, up 72% year-on-year, the latest statistics showed. The number of people who expressed the wish to stay in Slovenia was also up, from 3,952 to 4,441, but the figures show most people treat Slovenia as a transit country.
        LJUBLJANA - An idiosyncratic graphic novel that was originally released in instalments on Facebook won the Grand Prix for book of the year at the Slovenian Book Fair. "Vinjete Straholjubca" (The Bête Noire Vignettes) is a joint project by writer Eva Mahkovic and illustrator Eva Mlinar.

MONDAY, 2 December
        BELGRADE, Serbia - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dačić as he started an official two-day visit to Serbia dedicated to preparations for a joint 17 December government session. Cerar said Slovenia would make an effort for EU enlargement to the Western Balkans to be given a fresh impetus with the new European Commission.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar told a session of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council that Slovenia advocated a comprehensive approach to migrations in the future EU migration and asylum policy. The underlying goal must be to reduce illegal migrations, he said.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly overturned both vetoes the upper chamber imposed last week to block the state budget for 2020 and 2021, meaning the 2020 budget will start to be implemented on 1 January as planned. Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said common sense had prevailed.
        LJUBLJANA - Opposition Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša said he expected "an early election sooner or later" because the government coalition is running out of "candy" to distribute among voters, "which will cause big trouble". If fragmented, minority governments do not last long, Janša said.
TUESDAY, 3 December
        BELGRADE, Serbia - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar continued his official visit to Serbia by meeting President Aleksandar Vučić, who hailed Slovenia's active engagement in the Western Balkan Region. The pair discussed bilateral economic cooperation, succession to the former Yugoslavia and Slovenia's support for EU enlargement.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Slovenia, the European Commission and Croatia presented to the General Court of the European Union their arguments in a case related to a derogation enabling Croatia to use Teran as the name of a red wine protected by Slovenia. A ruling is expected by the end of next year.
        LJUBLJANA - A parliamentary commission inquiring into the prosecution of former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler, which had been thwarted by the Constitutional Court, said it planned to file a criminal complaint against two judges at the court, Rajko Knez and judge Matej Accetto, arguing they had acted unlawfully and arbitrarily in decisions connected with the commission's work.
        LJUBLJANA - The results of Slovenian 15-year-olds in reading, scientific and mathematical literacy tests are above the OECD average, shows the recent PISA study. Compared to the previous such study, the students have come off as less accomplished in reading and science literacy though.
        LJUBLJANA - Turkish builder Cengiz announced it had won the contract to build the Slovenian section of the second tube of the Karavanke motorway tunnel, as the motorway company concluded talks with three bidders. The decision is yet to be confirmed by the DARS management.
        LJUBLJANA - The central bank warned that there were "substantial downside risks" in budgetary plans for 2020 and 2021 that the National Assembly confirmed in a revote. The risks "stem from a possible acceleration of the slowing of economic growth," it said.

WEDNESDAY, 4 December
        LONDON, UK - After attending a NATO summit in London, PM Marjan Šarec said he was happy that NATO leaders had again shown unity, solidarity and effort for democracy. While there were disagreements between some members states ahead of the meeting, he said everything had been settled during the discussion, which he described as constructive.
        LJUBLJANA - The migration crisis, security issues, EU enlargement, and nuclear waste management were discussed as President Borut Pahor met the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the outset of an official two-day visit. Pahor said that Slovenia supported Bosnia and respected its results despite the numerous challenges it faced.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - In the wake of last week's earthquake, Slovenia's European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič left for Albania for his first official visit after taking over as EU commissioner. The visit was designed to assess the extent of aid the country needs after the quake.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan urged the government to declare a climate crisis in Slovenia to ensure the necessary resources for drawing up a comprehensive strategy to fight climate change. He based his appeal on conclusions reached at a climate change debate at the National Assembly last month.
        NAPLES, Italy - Environment Minister Simon Zajc called for cooperation among all countries in the Mediterranean at a Barcelona Convention ministerial. He urged joint efforts for sustainable development and preservation of natural resources.
THURSDAY, 5 December
        LJUBLJANA - Mercator's bankrupt Croatian owner Agrokor and the newly established Fortenova group, which has taken over Agrokor's assets, reported the Slovenian Economy Ministry led by Zdravko Počivalšek to the European Commission over his interference in the transfer of Slovenian retailer Mercator to Fortenova. Počivalšek said he had been merely striving to protect Slovenian suppliers under existing competition rules and had always been open about his intentions.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a national strategy on the prevention of terrorism and violent extremism which lays the groundwork for a systemic approach to reducing Slovenia's vulnerability to terrorism and violent extremism. The strategy aims to prevent radicalisation, and protect residents against acts of terrorism and violent extremism.
        BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar reiterated his call for effective multilateralism at the 26th OSCE ministerial. He stressed the importance of OSCE for improving democratic processes.
        LJUBLJANA - The government revealed plans to invest EUR 5.6 billion in transport and transport infrastructure in 2020-2025. Under the plan, the funds will be spent on air and maritime transport, investments in and reconstruction of state roads and toll roads, modernisation of railways, sustainable measures and traffic control.
        LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court decided that several documents pertaining to treatment of migrants and asylum seekers on the state border are public information, ordering the Interior Ministry and the police to disclose the documents.
        LJUBLJANA - The District Court of Koper initiated bankruptcy proceedings for Istrabenz, a once mighty financial holding, as the request of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC), its biggest creditor. The move is designed to give BAMC control of Istrabenz's remaining assets.

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