Last Week in Slovenia: 3 - 9 July, 2020

By , 11 Jul 2020, 13:02 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 3 - 9 July, 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, 3 July
        LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - Slovenia recorded 30 new coronavirus infections, a new high since mid-April, with a large majority of the cases being up to 44 years of age. By 8 July 97 more cases were confirmed, bringing the tally of active cases to 230 and the total case count to 1,776. The number of hospitalisations rose to 15 by 8 July, none of them intensive care cases.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his visiting German counterpart Heiko Maas held a virtual meeting with Portugal's Augusto Santos Silva focusing on the trio EU presidency plans, the coronavirus response and the EU multi-year budget and recovery plan. They established the EU was better equipped to deal with a potential second wave of coronavirus infections. Similar topics were discussed as Maas met Prime Minister Janez Janša and President Borut Pahor.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's registered jobless total dipped by 1.1% from May to 89,377 at the end of June in a first monthly decrease since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The figure is still 26.3% up year-on-year tough.
        LJUBLJANA - The ruling coalition parties signed a deal on cooperation with the opposition National Party (SNS) and the Italian and Hungarian minority MPs. The SNS and the two minority MPs agreed to support government bills and projects in the 2020-2022 period. Other opposition parties turned down the offer to join the partnership on the ground that PM Janez Janša did not inspire trust.
        LJUBLJANA - Police security was beefed up in the centre of Ljubljana as some 2,500 anti-government protesters took to the streets for the 11th consecutive week, while a smaller group of some 80 government supporters wearing yellow vests staged a counter-protest. The anti-government protesters and some media linked the yellow vests to the neo-Nazi groups and to the ruling party. Despite some tension the protests passed off without a major confrontation.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The ALDE party's bureau decided to send a fact-finding mission to Slovenia, expectedly after the summer break, according to unofficial information. However, ALDE party press service said there was "no discussion on the expulsion of any of the Slovenian member parties of ALDE", denying the rumour it would expel the Modern Centre Party (SMC).
        LJUBLJANA - The central bank said that Slovenian banks received EUR 401.1 million worth of requests for a deferral of loan payments in the three months since the relevant legislation took effect. The number of requests filed was 23,700, which amounts to 3.6% of all loans. Processing over 90% of the requests, the banks approving the bulk of them.
        LJUBLJANA - The government replaced four of the five supervisors of 2TDK, the company established for the construction and management of a new rail link to the port of Koper, appointing Robert Rožič the new chief supervisor in what is seen as a prelude to the management's replacement.

        LJUBLJANA - Border restrictions entered into force for citizens of Croatia, France and the Czech Republic as the countries were demoted from the green list of Covid-19 safe countries to the yellow list, but France and most of the Czech Republic were reinstated to green two days later. The citizens of yellow countries are submitted to a mandatory two-week quarantine on entering Slovenia unless they are just transiting the country or had accommodation booked and could prove they had tested negative for Sars-CoV-2. In addition, Slovenia started serving quarantine orders at border crossings for arrivals from red countries, including to Slovenians unable to prove they arrived from Croatia rather than from further south. More than 1,000 quarantine orders were served at the weekend.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the daily number of coronavirus infections hitting an eleven-week high the previous day by warning that there were only two alternatives until an effective medication or vaccine against Covid-19 was available: drastic shutdown of public life, border closures, social distancing and depression, or mandatory use of a contact tracing app.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that retired brigadier general Tone Krkovič, one of the defendants in the Patria defence corruption trial, had reached a settlement with the state for EUR 60,000 in damages for wrongful imprisonment. This means that only Janez Janša, the incumbent PM, is yet to get damages for wrongful imprisonment over a guilty ruling that was quashed by the Constitutional Court in 2015. Businessman Ivan Črnkovič settled for EUR 63,000 in 2018. Janša claims EUR 900,000.

SUNDAY, 5 July
        VIPAVA - News broke of a coronavirus outbreak at the Vipava care home, the first such after the 80% of Slovenia's 111 Covid-19-related deaths in the first wave of the epidemic were at care homes. Eleven of the 108 residents and seven of the 45 staff tested positive after all had been tested. In response the association of care homes systemic measures had not been put in place to protect the residents.
        ZAGREB, Croatia - Barbara Antolić Vupora was elected to the Croatian parliament on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) as the first member of the Slovenian minority to enter Sabor in its 30-year history.

MONDAY, 6 July
        LJUBLJANA - Meeting Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj, Foreign Minister Anže Logar vowed that Slovenia would provide support for Albania on its path to the EU. The ministers also talked about the Covid-19 pandemic, with Cakaj lauding Slovenia's response, and efforts to strengthen bilateral cooperation, most notably in business.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council, a government advisory body, estimated the public budget costs of coronavirus crisis stimulus measures until the beginning of July at around of EUR 1.1 billion, well below the government's initial estimate of EUR 4 billion and subsequent correction to EUR 2.8 billion.
        LJUBLJANA - Government spokesman Jelko Kacin revealed that a couple of foreign nationals had breached quarantine rules and now faced a fine or even prison on suspicion they spread coronavirus out of negligence. A 37-year-old woman failed to notify emergency department staff beforehand that her husband had Covid-19, who kept going to work despite being ordered to self-isolate.
        LJUBLJANA - The four left-leaning opposition parties filed for a parliamentary inquiry to examine the efficiency of government measures taken to contain the Covid-19 epidemic and mitigate its consequences, including potential violations of human rights and freedoms.
        LJUBLJANA - The State Prosecutors' Council condemned a letter PM Janez Janša addressed to the state prosecutor general on 19 June over the alleged inaction to prosecute death threats expressed at anti-government protests and attacks on the police taking place as part of them.

        LJUBLJANA - Mario Fafangel, the chief epidemiologist at the National Institute of Public Health, urged adherence to existing measures to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections as he revealed that the cumulative average infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants was at the 10 threshold "we've been using for other countries when designating them no longer safe".
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission kept its projection for Slovenia's economy to shrink by 7% this year unchanged in the latest forecast, while downgrading its outlook for the country for 2021 by 0.6 of a percentage point compared to the May forecast to 6.1% growth.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Commission would like to keep the dialogue with Slovenia on ECB archives, in her response to a recent letter PM Janez Janša examining the possibility for the Commission to withdraw the legal action against Slovenia because of a 2016 seizure of ECB documents.
        LJUBLJANA - The state-owned telecoms company Telekom Slovenije signed a deal to sell Planet TV to the Hungarian media company TV2 Media for EUR 5 million. The transactions is expected to be finalised by the end of September after its gets all clearances. TV2 is owned by Jozsef Vida, whom media associate with the business network of Hungary's ruling party Fidesz. Media reports suggest Planet TV could merge with Nova24TV, the TV associated with the ruling Slovenian Democrats (SDS).
        LJUBLJANA - A report by the central bank showed that banks in Slovenia generated EUR 152 million in pre-tax profit in the first five months of the year, a 50% drop year-on-year. Growth in loans to households was halved and loans to companies are gradually declining too.
        LJUBLJANA - The Insurance Supervision Agency's report for 2019 shows that the Slovenian insurance sector performed successfully last year, with the agency saying that it was well capitalised and thus well prepared for the challenge posed by the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey presented by the National Education Institute showed that half the Slovenian primary and secondary school pupils think that remote learning posed more challenges than in-classroom learning, something that their teachers concurred with.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Book Agency announced that Slovenia's stint as the guest of honour country at the Frankfurt Book Fair was postponed for a year to 2023 due to coronavirus ramifications. So was the country's planned guest of honour appearance at the Bologna Children's Book Fair moved forward to 2022.

        VIENNA, Austria - President Borut Pahor met his Austrian and Croatian counterparts for the 7th trilateral meeting for talks focusing on Europe during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, and on the combat against climate change. On the eve of the meeting, Pahor and Austria's Alexander Van der Bellen agreed to mark the centenary of the Carinthian plebiscite, which determined the border between Austria and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, together as a sign of peaceful coexistence between the two nations.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - In a video debate on the challenges of the EU organised by the Foundation for a Civic Hungary and also featuring Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, PM Janez Janša called for a uniform and not entirely voluntary coronavirus tracing app for the whole of Europe as the only option to allow tourism to continue and prevent a suspension of public life. Janša also spoke of "cultural Marxism" as the biggest ideological threat to the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The government lowered the number of persons allowed in public gatherings from 50 to 10. Official events of up to 50 people will be allowed if the organiser keeps a record of all the participants.
        LJUBLJANA - Speculation arose whether Aleš Hojs would stay on as the interior minister after PM Janez Janša failed to submit formal notification of his "irrevocable resignation", announced on 30 June, to parliament by the deadline. The PM's office would not comment on the situation.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Home Policy Committee called on the government to retable a motion to invoke a special clause in the defence act that would give soldiers police powers to patrol the border after police reported a spike in illegal migration in June. The committee also urged to government to withdraw from the global compact for migration, a proposal Foreign Minister Anže Logar said his ministry would examine.
        BRNIK - Fraport Slovenija director Zmago Skobir said that passenger numbers at Ljubljana airport had been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, urging the government to help airlines with state aid to preserve routes and aviation as a whole.

        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on his first trip abroad since assuming office in mid-March. He said Slovenia wanted the agreement on the EU's 2021-27 budget and recovery plan for Europe to be clinched as on as possible and reflect the European Commission's original proposal as much as possible. He told Stoltenberg Slovenia would invest EUR 780 million in he Slovenian Armed Forces in 2021-2026.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Anže Logar met several senior EU officials in preparation of Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021, including the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and three commissioners, among them Oliver Varhely, who is in charge of enlargement.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed by 50 votes to 23 a legislative package meant to prepare Slovenia for the second wave of Covid-19 that includes a legal basis for a contact tracing app. The app, which will be compulsory for infected persons and those placed into quarantine or self-isolation, is to be ready in a few weeks, but the opposition indicated it would challenge it at the Constitutional Court due to the many concerns, including with respect to invasion of privacy.
        LJUBLJANA - The Culture Ministry submitted for public consultation until 15 July a proposal reforming the media act, the RTV Slovenija act and the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) act under which part of the TV licence fee would be allocated for the realisation of public interest in the media and a part would go to the STA, which would no longer be eligible for state funds. The proposal also envisages changes to to the appointment procedure for STA supervisors and director.
        LJUBLJANA - The leadership of the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) backed party leader Aleksandra Pivec following a vote of no confidence in her by the party's Ljubljana branch, which Pivec said had been orchestrated.
        NOVO MESTO - The shareholders meeting of Krka endorsed the proposal to pay out EUR 133.27 million of the EUR 270.87 million in distributable profit for dividends at EUR 4.25 gross per share, EUR 1.05 more than in 2019. It also appointed economist Matej Lahovnik, the chief adviser to the government on the stimulus legislation, one of the four new supervisors. Preliminary estimates show the pharma group saw its net profit grow by 15% year-on-year to EUR 160.3 million in the first half of the year as sales revenue rose by 6% to EUR 803.8 million.

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