Last Week in Slovenia: 12 - 18 June, 2020

By , 20 Jun 2020, 13:08 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 12 - 18 June, 2020

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

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FRIDAY, 12 June
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek survived a no-confidence motion the opposition had mounted against him over the government's poor handling of the procurement of vital equipment during the Covid-19 epidemic. 51 MPs voted against and 37 for his dismissal.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša indicated in a tweet that the May incident on the border with Italy when two soldiers stopped at gunpoint a civilian - a member of the Slovenian minority from Italy, had been orchestrated by representatives of "the deep state" in the prosecution, police and mainstream media, to discredit the army. The prosecution and the police denied any involvement, with the police adding that the information gathered so far did not confirm the "orchestration" allegation.
        LJUBLJANA - Several media outlets published a draft memorandum of understanding Slovenia would sign with the US on the security of 5G networks which highlights the importance of security standards. The document is seen as potentially limiting cooperation with Huawei.
        NEW YORK, US - Ratings agency Standard & Poor's affirmed Slovenia's AA- rating, arguing the Slovenian economy, coupled with the government's policy response, puts Slovenia in a good position to weather the Covid-19 crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Anton Travner, who has served as acting police commissioner since the new government took over in mid-March, was appointed for a full five-year term.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protesters, who have been voicing opposition to the government on Fridays for the past two months, left their bicycles and protested on foot. Seven of an estimated 5,000 protesters were arrested and fined for violations of public law and order after attempting to tear down a fence that established a security perimeter around Parliament House and after some jumped the fence.
        LJUBLJANA - The college of deputy group leaders adopted a long-overdue code of ethics for MPs in a bid to strengthen the National Assembly's reputation, integrity and public trust. The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption hailed it as a step in the right direction.
        LJUBLJANA - The Environment Agency issued a permit for hunters to cull 115 brown bears until September to manage the bear population.

        LJUBLJANA - Restrictions on international public road and railway transport, imposed on 16 March due to the coronavirus epidemic, were lifted.
        LJUBELJ - President Borut Pahor indicated he is considering a symbolic gesture of reconciliation with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella when they attend a ceremony on 13 July marking the centenary of the arson of the Slovenian National Hall in Trieste by Fascists. They might visit two sites in Basovizza near Trieste that have strong symbolic importance for Italy and the Slovenian community there.

MONDAY, 15 June
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša indicated in a TV interview that an European Commission lawsuit against Slovenia over European Central Bank (ECB) documents was hampering an ongoing police investigation in Slovenia, hence his recent query with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen about whether the Commission might drop the lawsuit.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia opened its border with Italy as the country was put on a list of countries whose citizens are free to cross into Slovenia without having to quarantine, as the last neighbouring country to make the list.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša indicated the government was willing to amend legislation to impose sanctions against militia groups such as the Štajerska Guard, but he told parliament in questions time that the existing legislation already allowed that, it was just not applied consistently.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar said in parliament that Slovenia is calling on Israel to "refrain from any unilateral decisions that would lead to the annexing of any of the occupied Palestinian territories and would as such run contrary to international law".
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Competition Protection Agency confirmed it had extended the temporary seizure of Mercator shares from the retailer's owner, Croatian group Agrokor, for six months. Agrokor has still not paid a EUR 53.9 million fine issued for its failure to notify the agency of the 2016 takeover of company Costella.
        VELENJE - Home appliances maker Hisense Gorenje decided to produce TV sets at the existing production facilities, having previously planned to build a new plant at its Velenje location. TV production is scheduled to start in early 2021.
        LJUBLJANA - An Italian military vehicle drove into Slovenian territory in the border town of Šempeter pri Gorici, but soon turned around and returned to Italy. The police said it was investigating the event and would notify the Foreign Ministry of its findings.

TUESDAY, 16 June
        LJUBLJANA - Master chef Ana Roš of Hiša Franko was awarded two Michelin stars, becoming the first chef in the region to win the accolade, in what is praised as a major achievements for Slovenian tourism. Another five restaurants received one star each, as restaurant guide Michelin launched its first guide to Slovenian restaurants.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs urged a prompt reform of the common asylum system as he discussed Slovenia's expectations from the EU's new migration and asylum pact, which the European Commission is to unveil at the end of July, with European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson in a video call. He reiterated Slovenia's position against migrant quotas.
        VIENNA, Austria - Foreign Minister Anže Logar was in Austria meeting his counterparts from Austria, Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia, who shared a view that the countries had cooperated very well during the coronavirus. Logar believes this has resulted in a new cooperation protocol among neighbours, which is an important European message.
        LAUSANNE, Switzerland - Slovenia rose two rungs in the latest IMD World Competitiveness Ranking to 35th among 63 countries, due to improvements in business and government efficiency, while sliding back in terms of economic performance over 2019.
        LJUBLJANA - In what is seen as a legal precedent, the Supreme Court said that provisions governing access to public information do not apply to judicial proceedings and case files. It said such access are governed by laws such as the criminal procedure act, the civil procedure act and the state prosecution service act. The Information Commissioner responded by stressing public oversight is crucial for the legal functioning of authorities, noting legislative changes may be needed.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a bill amending the penal code by imposing harsher penalties for persons organising illegal crossings of the border and for those helping illegal migrants reside in Slovenia. It also passed the governments-sponsored changes to the law on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing that transpose EU law.
        LJUBLJANA - Over 3,280 people tried to enter Slovenia illegally in the first five months of the year, down more than 25% over the same period last year, with almost 2,000 expressing the intention to request asylum in Slovenia, police data showed.
        LJUBLJANA - Collective (Colectiv), a film by Romanian director Alexander Nanau, won the Amnesty International Slovenije award at the 22nd Documentary Film Festival. The documentary draws the viewer into the turmoil of fearless investigative journalism targeting systemic corruption in Romania.

        LJUBLJANA - The 15th Bled Strategic Forum, Slovenia's premier foreign policy conference, will be a one-day event this year owing to the coronavirus epidemic, it was announced. It will be held on 31 August under the title Challenges and Opportunities in the Post-COVID-19 World; Neighbours - Regions - Global World: Partners or Rivals?.
        LJUBLJANA - Bojana Beović, the head of the team advising the Health Ministry on coronavirus, urged reimposing stringent measures on the borders at once after an increase in new infections originating abroad, while PM Janez Janša warned new restrictions would be inevitable unless those in place were respected.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Geržina announced a shift to a more ambitious foreign policy as he said Minister Anže Logar will host a number of his counterparts for talks in Ljubljana in the coming weeks, at what was the first in a series of Geržina's regular monthly briefings.
        VRHNIKA - PM Janez Janša announced the government's effort to improve the status of soldiers and provide additional funds for military equipment. He said the Defence Ministry and the government were already working on solutions to improve the situation.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council, a government advisory body, said Slovenia's fiscal policy in 2019 was expansive although it should have been restrictive, considering the state of the economic cycle, as it released its assessment of compliance of the general government sector budgets with fiscal rules.
        LJUBLJANA - US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard told the STA in an interview that she had put economic development in the focus of her efforts, and would also like to encourage cooperation between Slovenian and US universities. While not commenting in detail on a potential agreement on 5G technology between the US and Slovenia, she said the memorandum of understanding mimics much of the EU toolbox which encourages EU member states to avoid unsafe 5G providers.
        RIJEKA, Croatia - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch visited the Slovenian minority in Croatia in what was her first day-long visit abroad. One of the topics discussed was how to engage young people in minority associations.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor conferred state decorations on physicist and researcher Boštjan Žekš and architect Boris Podrecca, both of whom received the Golden Order of Merit, whereas Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry's consular service, received the Order of Merit for his repatriation efforts during the epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The police are investigating eight persons suspected of threatening the safety of another person related to slogans carried at anti-government protests, notably Death to Janšism, Freedom to All. The police confirmed it was PM Janez Janša who reported the matter to the police on the basis of photos from the protests, which started during the epidemic. "Janšism" has come to imply policies advocated by Janša.

        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to impose stricter rules for arrivals from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo effective on 19 June. The decision came after Slovenia saw the eleven new cases last week, and fifteen from Monday to Wednesday, following almost a month with very few or no new daily cases. The death toll remains at 109 since the last death was recorded on 31 May.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor warned MPs in a special address against any delays in securing Constitutional Court-ordered electoral reform, saying a situation could occur where it will not be possible to execute a legitimate election. "This would push our county into a constitutional crisis or even political chaos and must not happen," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - The government compiled a list of key investments that will be given priority treatment in administrative procedures so as to help kick-start the economy. The list currently features 187 investments worth EUR 7.7 billion and will be updated on an ongoing basis, Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia could achieve the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence by 2026 after having laid out plans to invest EUR 780 million in defence over the next six years, Defence Minister Matej Tonin said after a two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers. The law securing the investment funds might be adopted by the government next week.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia presently has 680 medical ventilators, 439 of which are suitable for Covid-19 treatment, Health Minister Matjaž Gantar told the press as confusion about the ventilator numbers continued in recent weeks. This is by far above the number of intensive care beds as well as properly trained staff.
        STRASBOURG, France - Slovenia released 16% of its prisoner population during the coronavirus outbreak, one of the highest rates in Europe, a Council of Europe report showed.
        HOČE - The automotive multinational Magna decided against reopening its car paint shop near Maribor for now an instead announced it would reassign the bulk of what are around 200 workers at the new Slovenian location to its facility in Graz, Austria. Media reports suggest the plant will not reopen this year.
        LJUBLJANA - Mila Haugova, one of the most esteemed and prolific Slovak poets, was declared the winner of this year's Vilenica Prize for Central European literature. The award will be presented at the conclusion of the 35th Vilenica International Literary Festival in September.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislation proclaiming 23 September Slovenian Sports Day. The new public holiday will not be a work-free day.

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