Last Week in Slovenia: 3 - 9 January, 2020

By , 10 Jan 2020, 18:31 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 3 - 9 January, 2020 JL Flanner

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

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FRIDAY, 3 January
        LJUBLJANA - One year into her term, Slovenian Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar was happy to report that crime clearance rate increased to over 50% from 47%, which she says is the success of the system, not just individuals. Bobnar told the STA in an interview that the police now handle many more cases of corruption, and that cracking down on such crime is a priority.
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - The Slovenian ethnic minority in Austria expressed optimism about the coalition agreement between the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the Greens, which aims to make Austria carbon-neutral by 2040 and pledges to increase funding for ethnic minorities. Umbrella minority organisations believe "better times" are on the horizon.

SATURDAY, 4 January
        MARIBOR - Police apprehended Andrej Šiško, the self-styled leader of a militia who should have reported to prison to serve out his sentence for incitement to subversion of the constitutional order. He was apprehended at a commemoration of a major WWII battle in the Pohorje hills as he was about to approach President Borut Pahor.
        VAL DI FIEMME, Italy - Slovenian cross-country skier Anamarija Lampič dominated the World Cup freestyle sprint event in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in what was her third career World Cup win.

SUNDAY, 5 January
        LJUBLJANA - Physician and humanitarian worker Ninna Kozorog, the head of Humanitarček, an NGO which has campaigned for assistance to retirees living in poverty, was declared the Slovenian Woman of the Year 2019 by the women's magazine Jana/Zarja. The association's activities include a project called Vida, which aims at highlighting the difficulties faced by the elderly in remote areas.

MONDAY, 6 January
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor called for a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East as he made an appeal for a peaceful resolution of disputes following the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by the US. He acknowledged that the order by US President Donald Trump to kill Soleimani had "caused tensions across the Middle East and in the entire international community".
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor congratulated Croatia's newly elected President Zoran Milanović, who made improving relations with Slovenia a priority. Although Milanović was prime minister when Croatia unilaterally withdrew from the border arbitration procedure, Pahor hopes dialogue will lead to the implementation of the border arbitration decision. Analyst Borut Šuklje said Slovenia should be cautious about Milanović's pronouncement.
        LJUBLJANA - Four former top executives of Hypo Alpe Adria were sentenced to between six and eight years in prison for defrauding the now defunct financial group of several million euro through property transactions. The Ljubljana District Court found former Hypo Alpe Adria CEOs Anton Romih and Božidar Špan, former Hypo Leasing director general Andrej Potočnik and former Hypo Alpe Adria Consultance director Andrej Oblak guilty of abuse of office and money laundering.

TUESDAY, 7 January
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana District Court fully upheld the Competition Protection Agency's decision to temporarily seize Mercator shares from the retailer's owner, Croatian group Agrokor. Agrokor's successor Fortenova announced it would use all legal means available to have the seizure annulled.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia successfully completed a EUR 1.5 billion ten-year eurobond issue, leveraging market appetite for fixed assets to secure a record-low coupon interest rate of 0.275%. The last bond issue a year ago came with a coupon rate of 1.188%.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar voiced support for a de-escalation of tensions in the conflict between Iran and the United States. "It is necessary to calm down the situation, prevent the triggering of any violence or threat," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minster Miro Cerar told a debate on the Western Balkans that with the new European Commission, EU enlargement to the region was increasingly likely. He announced the region's EU prospects would be a priority of Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court announced it had rejected a petition in which Lekarna Ljubljana, the company operating a chain of pharmacies in greater Ljubljana, challenged a law prohibiting pharmacies from owning or controlling drug wholesalers and advertising pharmaceutical products.

WEDNESDAY, 8 January
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Defence Ministry announced the withdrawal of six soldiers from Erbil in northern Iraq after the base was attacked by Iran in retaliation for the killing of a senior general. The withdrawal followed the next day following a delay after Germany, which to provide logistical support, decided its troops would remain in Erbil.
        LJUBLJANA - The health insurance institute ZZZS approved the 2020 financial plan. Expenditure is budgeted to increase by EUR 266 million compared to 2019 to EUR 3.32 billion. The institute is expected to operate at a EUR 10.4 million loss this year, which is to be covered by a surplus generated in the past.
        LJUBLJANA - OTP, the Hungarian banking group which acquired SBK Banka from the French group Societe Generale last year, said it planned to grow organically and through takeovers. OTP CEO Sandor Csanyi said the group could attain a market share of between 25% and 30% in Slovenia; SKB was at 8% in 2018.
        LJUBLJANA - The biggest health corruption case in Slovenia's history came to trial, with four defendants out of six who appeared pleading not guilty. One did not enter a plea, and one was allowed to leave the hearing early due to health reasons, and will enter his plea at the next hearing.

THURSDAY, 9 January
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec pledged Slovenia's continued commitment to the global anti-Daesh coalition, and its resolve to deploy a new rotation of troops to northern Iraq despite the decision to relocate the current rotation home early following Iran attacks on Erbil airport. The position was also backed by the parliamentary committees on defence and foreign policy.
        LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court's annulment of the 1946 death sentencing of WWII general Leon Rupnik for collaboration with the Fascist Italian and Nazi German occupation drew protests from the Association of WWII Veterans, the Jewish Cultural Centre Ljubljana and the Social Democrats. The centre plans to inform the world public of the decision.
        LJUBLJANA - A vetting commission endorsed four candidates for the head of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, excluding the incumbent Boris Štefanec. President Borut Pahor will be able to make his pick from Štefanec's deputy Uroš Novak, Tina Brecelj, adviser to the Supreme Court president, Janez Pogorelec from the Government Office for Legislation and Robert Šumi from the Police Academy.
        LJUBLJANA - Jadran Lenarčič, the long-serving director of the Jožef Stefan Institute, Slovenia's top research institution, was declared the Person of 2019 by the newspaper publisher Delo.
        LJUBLJANA - The Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) announced "podnebje" or climate as the Slovenian word of 2019. Second place went to "Šarecism", alluding to the discourse used by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, followed by "carbon-neutral".
        MORAVČE - A large-scale wooden effigy of US President Donald Trump, which had recently been relocated to Moravče, some 30 kilometres east of Ljubljana, was torched during the night. The statue had originally been erected in Selo, a small village some 20 kilometres north of Ljubljana, in August, but was relocated to Moravče in late December.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's exports and imports rose by 4% and 0.4% respectively in November 2019 compared to the year before, the Statistics Office said, attributing this to the increased value of trade with EU non-member countries.

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