Last Week in Slovenia: 26 June - 2 July, 2020

By , 04 Jul 2020, 12:30 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 26 June - 2 July, 2020 wordcloud.com

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

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FRIDAY, 26 June
        LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry announced it had drafted changes to the international protection act envisaging solutions for a more effective strategy to tackle a growing number of asylum seekers and prevent any abuse of the system. The proposal re-introduces a possibility of bringing an appeal before the Supreme Court.
        LJUBLJANA - The editorial board of the weekly magazine Mladina filed a criminal complaint against Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, suspecting him of abuse of office in the procurement of protective and medicinal equipment during the coronavirus epidemic.
        TACEN - Addressing the main ceremony ahead of Police Day, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and Police Commissioner Anton Travner thanked members of the police force for their professional work and sacrifice. Hojs promised stepped up action against paramilitary groups if needed and support in the protection of the border.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left submitted to parliament a proposal to reinstate 80% pay compensation for workers ordered in quarantine irrespective of the circumstances. Workers are presently only entitled to 50% after coronavirus stimulus measures regulating this were lifted on 31 May.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces executed a new rotation of a part of their contingent in NATO's KFOR mission in Kosovo, the first after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. All the rotated members tested negative before being sent home, but they will still be subjected to 14-day self-isolation in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protesters took to the streets of Ljubljana, packing Prešeren Square to protest against police erecting fences, and put chains around the monument of Slovenian poet France Prešeren in a symbolic move to warn about the cultural crisis.

SATURDAY, 27 June
        LJUBLJANA - Police Commissioner Anton Travner praised the police force for its work in weekly anti-government protests and its response to the challenges of the coronavirus in an interview marking Police Day. He said he would, however, like to see more staff hired and better equipment.
        LENART - Defence Minister Matej Tonin apologised to Independence War veterans that their flag bearers had not been able to take part in the national ceremony to mark Statehood Day on 24 June. Last week's ceremony was capped at 500 people due to a ban restricting the gathering of more than 500 people because of coronavirus contagion risk.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that the former head of the national Statistics Office, Bojan Nastav, who was dismissed in late May, would be challenging the dismissal at the Administrative Court. The dismissal was followed by a letter from European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni asking Prime Minister Janez Janša to clarify the move.

SUNDAY, 28 June
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an emergency bill in preparations for a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic to adopt measures initially planned as amendments to the third stimulus package to avoid a procedural glitch. These include an extension to the furlough scheme until at least 31 July and a legal basis for a Covid-19 tracing app.
        LJUBLJANA - Milan Krek, the director of the National Institute of Public Health, said that the current epidemiologic status in Croatia was grave and that stricter measures would have to be implemented if the situation did not improve there.

MONDAY, 29 June
        LJUBLJANA - The government lowered the cap on public gatherings from 500 to 50, except for events sanctioned by health authorities, and indicated stricter oversight of quarantine orders in the face of a growing number of coronavirus cases.
        LJUBLJANA - Matej Pirc, the chief supervisor of 2TDK, the state-run company established to manage the project of a new rail link to the port of Koper, resigned. No reason was given for the decision, which comes amid speculation that the government is about to replace the entire supervisory board and subsequently the management.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Commission approved a EUR 600 million state aid scheme for Slovenian companies affected by the coronavirus crisis. Under the scheme, companies from various sectors will receive aid as grants, payment breaks and subsidies.
        LJUBLJANA - The IMAD government macroeconomic think tank recommended that measures to help relaunch the economy in the wake of the coronacrisis should also target the country's key development challenges - large share of people in precarious work, systemic shortcomings of long-term care, long waiting periods in healthcare, the lack of digital skills and red tape.
        STRASBOURG, France - The European Committee of Social Rights warned Slovenia over the failure to honour the right to equal pay and opportunities in the workplace regardless of gender. The gender pay gap substantially increased in Slovenia in 2010-2017, with Eurostat data showing women in Slovenia faced a wage gap of 8% in 2017, which compares to EU average of 16%.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of registered unemployed persons was down last week for the fourth week in a row, staying below 90,000, preliminary data from the Employment Service showed.
        LJUBLJANA - A soldiers' trade union filed a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator on suspicion of slander against the state after the Guard of Honour of the Slovenian Armed Forces was being called traitors ahead of last week's Statehood Day ceremony.
        LJUBLJANA - The ruling Democrats (SDS) lost some ground in a monthly poll run by POP TV, but continued to command a firm lead, while the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) lost support to the Left and the Social Democrats (SD).
        LJUBLJANA - The home of opposition National Party (SNS) head Zmago Jelinčič was pelleted with several bottles of a fluid believed to be spent motor oil. The incident comes after Jelinčič was put in the spotlight in a video in which he said that "The people are stupid. It was a mistake to give money to the people," a reference to government stimulus payments.
        
TUESDAY, 30 June
        LJUBLJANA - Police conducted house searches at eleven locations over suspected abuse of office in the procurement of medical ventilators, including the EUR 8.8 million deal with Geneplanet. The probe, which also targeted Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, prompted the resignation of Police Commissioner Anton Travner and Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, who claimed the investigation was politically motivated. While coalition parties were rather reserved in their reactions, the opposition called for the entire government to resign.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Andrej Jurič acting police commissioner effective from 1 July after Anton Travner resigned. Jurič has been with the police force since 1986, most recently as a senior inspector at the Centre for Minor Offence Cases at the Uniformed Police Directorate of the General Police Department.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia allocated EUR 70,000 to support programmes of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Syria and Turkey for 2020-2021. The donation was made as part of a donor conference which raised a total of EUR 6.9 billion for internally displaced Syrians and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry confirmed that Slovenian Ambassador to Switzerland Marta Kos had stepped down, citing no official reason. Kos meanwhile told the newspaper Dnevnik the resignation was linked to recent oversight of her management of the Embassy in Bern.
        LJUBLJANA - The Office of the Information Commissioner voiced reservations about government plans for a coronavirus contact tracing app for mobile devices, in particular the requirement that app use would be mandatory for those with confirmed infections.
        LJUBLJANA - Faced with the coronavirus crisis, Slovenia recorded a general government deficit of EUR 739 million or 6.6% of GDP in the first quarter. The figure exceeds last year's quarter one deficit by EUR 647 million, data from the Statistics Office showed.
        KRŠKO - Gen Energija, a power utility that manages Slovenia's half of the Krško nuclear power station, said its net profit rose by almost 20% to EUR 48.5 million even as sales declined by 5.5% to EUR 2.25 billion. The Krško plant accounted for 81% of total production.

WEDNESDAY, 1 July
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said he did not intend to step down following house searches related to an investigation into alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of medical supplies and PPE during the epidemic. He said he had PM Janez Janša's full support to carry on, while his Modern Centre Party (SMC) was also strongly behind him.
        LJUBLJANA - Director of the National Bureau of Investigation Igor Lamberger rejected the allegation by outgoing Interior Minister Aleš Hojs that the house searches related to the procurement of medical and protective equipment were politically motivated. Hojs's statements were also strongly criticised by police associations and trade unions.
        LJUBLJANA - The government's chief Covid-19 adviser Bojana Beović raised concern about the emergence of secondary infections as well as cases without no apparent source as cases are rising exponentially. She said she was worried Slovenia might close down its borders too late.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša reiterated the need for the EU to adopt the next multi-year budget before the summer break as he talked to EU Council President Jean Michel in a videoconference. He warned that the current, relatively advantageous situation, as far as the coronavirus pandemic went, might be misleading as everything could change very quickly.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor's plan to pay tribute to Italian victims of post-WWII killings on the sideline of a 13 July ceremony with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella stirred a debate at a high level. While FM Anže Logar told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee he did not understand the disquiet, opposition SocDems leader Tanja Fajon said that such a gesture could end up serving not reconciliation but historical revisionism.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia joined the EU's declaration which expresses the bloc's concern with China's 30 June adoption of a law which curbs Hong Kong's autonomy as well as rights and freedoms of its residents. The document urges preserving Hong Kong's high-degree autonomy as set down in the Hong Kong basic law and China's international commitments.
        KRANJ - The Slovenian telecoms equipment maker Iskratel was acquired by the Austrian group S&T under a EUR 37.5 million deal. The transaction is expected to be finalised in the autumn as it awaits regulatory approval.
        IDRIJA - The Swedish multinational Lindab announced it would close down the IMP Klima Group, its Slovenian-based cooling arm that it acquired in 2015 from industrial conglomerate Hidria. The decision will affect 212 jobs in Slovenia by the end of the year.
        LJUBLJANA - Gabrijel Škof resigned as the chairman of Slovenian Sovereign Holding, the custodian of state assets, citing personal reasons. Taking over temporarily from Škof, who assumed office on 1 October 2019, is Igor Kržan, a member of the supervisory board.
        LJUBLJANA - The state-owned SID export and development bank issued its first "Covid-19 bonds" to collect almost EUR 350 million with the maturity of five years, as part of its regular borrowing on capital markets to finance its programmes aimed at helping the Slovenian economy exist the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Transparency International Slovenia announced it had launched a website called Integrity Watch, featuring tools for keeping track of lobbying contacts of the government and parliament, and applicable business restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's pensioners, people with disabilities and war veterans were entitled to free intercity bus and train rides as of this day in line with relevant legislative changes passed in October 2019. Some 600,000 persons are eligible.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Festival opened with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Piano Concerto No. 3. Conducted by Charles Dutoit, and featuring Slovenia's leading pianist Dubravka Tomšič Srebotnjak. The 68th summer festival will be running in Ljubljana until 30 August.

THURSDAY, 2 July
        LJUBLJANA - Out of 1,198 coronavirus tests conducted the previous day, 21 came back positive, the highest daily figure since 16 April when Slovenia recorded 36 new cases, government data showed. The National Institute of Public Health expressed concern, saying it had detected two hotspots - one in the Štajerska region in the north-east and the other in Koroška in the north. In a bid to contain the virus, the government was to meet for a correspondence session today to remove Croatia, France and Czechia from the green list of countries considered epidemiologically safe by Slovenia, effective on Saturday. Being put on the yellow list means that most foreign citizens arriving in Slovenia from these countries need to subject themselves to a two-week quarantine, while this does not apply to Slovenians returning from yellow-listed countries.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša published a letter he had recently sent to State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa in which he says the prosecution is neglecting its role in relation to the anti-government protests by failing to respond to inciting to violence. The letter has been met with strong criticism, with Šketa saying the prosecution was efficient and acting in line with the law, and the head of the opposition SocDems, Tanja Fajon, mulling an impeachment motion against Janša.
        BUDAPEST, Hungary - Paying an official visit to Hungary, President Borut Pahor confirmed with his counterpart Janos Ader the excellent and friendly relations between the two countries and pointed out Slovenia and Hungary were among the countries successfully managing the new coronavirus. He briefed Adler on Slovenia's plan for the EU presidency in the second half of 2021 and broached the issue of "greater Hungary" maps. Migration was another topic discussed.
        VIENNA, Austria - Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič met his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka in what was Zorčič's first foreign visit. The pair discussed improving the situation of the Slovenian minority in Austria and exchanged experiences in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The situation in the automotive industry seems to be slowly stabilising after the epidemic, as the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce said in the first six months of the year, sales were down by a third but in June the year-on-year drop was only 7.27%.
        TREBNJE - KZ Krka and KZ Trebnje, two agricultural cooperatives operating in the south-east of Slovenia announced plans for a merger that will create the largest cooperative in the country with almost 1,000 members, 260 employees and an expected annual revenue of almost EUR 65 million.
        LJUBLJANA - As much as 85% of the FFP2 face masks delivered to Slovenia by mid-June were supplied without the required certificates, with all but one supplier putting forward legally invalid certificates by issuers not certified for testing personal protective equipment (PPE), the Slovenian web portal Oštro reported. The revealed a similar situation across Europe.

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