Last Week in Slovenia: 17 - 23 July, 2020

By , 25 Jul 2020, 12:00 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 17 - 23 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, 17 July
        FRANKFURT, Germany - Fitch affirmed Slovenia's credit rating of A with a stable outlook. The rating agency forecast that the country's GDP would shrink by 7.1% this year, growing by 4.9% next year and another 3.3% in 2022.
        LJUBLJANA - Montenegro and Luxembourg were placed on Slovenia's red list of Covid-19 highly risky countries given their epidemiologic status. Croatia remained on the yellow list, which indicates a higher level of caution is advised.
        LJUBLJANA - Early findings of the Information Commissioner inquiry into potentially problematic access to 45 politicians' personal data have not revealed systemic abuse. Only one police officer has so far been identified as having accessed such data without authorisation, the office said.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protests were held in several Slovenian cities for the 13th week running. In the capital some 3,000 protesters packed Prešeren Square and later stopped at RTV Slovenija to express their support for the public broadcaster in the light of the planned media reform. The protest culminated in a "people's assembly" in a bid to formulate clear demands.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of human rights NGOs urged the government to treat Eritrean asylum seekers more fairly, pointing out that only three of 15 applications lodged by Eritreans who recently arrived in Slovenia had been granted. The Interior Ministry rejected the notion that its policy is unprofessional or politically motivated in any way.

SATURDAY, 18 July
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Tomaž Gantar signed a two-year cooperation agreement with the regional office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Europe. Cooperation is to focus on control of communicable and non-communicable disease and the strengthening of healthcare.

MONDAY, 20 July
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - An event marked the 10th anniversary of Slovenia's membership of the OECD with Foreign Minister Anže Logar saying that joining the organisation offered the country an opportunity for new development achievements. OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria, addressing the event by video call, said he was confident Slovenia would exit the current crisis stronger.
        PARIS, France - The OECD's latest economic survey praised Slovenia's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and urged the state to continue providing support measures for the economy until growth is fully restored. But as stimulus measures are gradually being wound down, the economy may need a fiscal stimulus to prevent a possible spike in bankruptcies and unemployment, it said.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar discussed the rule of law and the EU's new rule of law mechanism with European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders in a videoconference, focussing on the anticipated first rule of law report by the EU Commission. The pair talked about approaching Slovenia's EU Council presidency as well.
        LJUBLJANA - RTV Slovenija's programming council did not back the public broadcaster's changed financial and production plans for 2020, which the leadership had prepared in response to the coronavirus. The no-vote could put RTV Slovenija in a dire financial situation amid concerns that the government is trying to undermine it with a controversial media reform.
        LJUBLJANA - The latest Vox Populi public opinion poll, carried by Večer and Dnevnik, showed little change at the top of the party rankings. The ruling SDS polled at 22.7%, the same as the month before, with the opposition SocDems down half a point to 14.7%, having jumped by seven points in the previous month. The government's approval rating was at 48.5%, up slightly from June.
        
TUESDAY, 21 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Janez Janša said Slovenia was pleased with the outcome of the EU budget talks since Slovenia is eligible for EUR 10.5 billion over the next seven years, of which EUR 6.6 billion in grants. He also rejected the perception that the rule of law discussion at the EU summit was about Slovenia siding with Hungary and Poland. Instead, he said, it was about clarifying the concept.
        LJUBLJANA - The registered unemployment rate in Slovenia in May, when some of the lockdown measures related to the coronavirus epidemic were relaxed, stood at 9.3%, which is 0.2 of a percentage point more than in April, the Employment Service said. The registered unemployment rate in May was up by 1.4 percentage points compared to February, the last full month before the restrictive anti-epidemic measures were introduced.
        KOPER - Austria launched an honorary consulate in the city of Koper, its second after Maribor. It will be headed by Honorary Consul Urška Svetlik, a business executive. The opening of the consulate illustrates the importance Austria attributes to Koper and the entire western region of Primorska, Austrian Ambassador to Slovenia Sigrid Berka said on the occasion.

WEDNESDAY, 22 July
        BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - The presidents of Slovenia and Slovakia, Borut Pahor and Zuzana Čaputova, welcomed the EU budget deal as they held talks in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The presidents discussed bilateral cooperation and later opened a business forum focusing on green technologies that featured 34 companies and institutions from both countries.
        BUDAPEST, Hungary - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec visited Budapest for talks with Hungarian ministers of foreign affairs and innovation and technology, Peter Szijjarto and Laszlo Palkovics. Vrtovec said economic cooperation could be further upgraded with energy and road infrastructure projects, such as the Cirkovce-Pince electric power line.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Following the EU summit deal, the government set up two task forces to make sure the country phases all the funds available to it. It was announced that mayors and regional development agencies would be involved in the drafting of the national recovery plan, which the government intends to adopt by the end of August.
        LJUBLJANA - After a year and a half of calls for redefining rape in the penal code, the Justice Ministry said that legislative changes had been drafted. Their aim is to embed the consent standard in criminal law, making every non-consensual sexual act a punishable offence.
        
THURSDAY, 23 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission expressed concerned about the media legislation planned by the Slovenian government. Presenting the most recent Media Pluralism Monitor report, Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova said Slovenia should not follow in Hungary's footsteps when it came to media ownership.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia announced it planned to sign a Joint Declaration on 5G Security with the United States, which could curb the involvement of China's Huawei in the deployment of the fifth generation wireless communication networks in the country. The government submitted the declaration to the National Assembly.
        LJUBLJANA - A total of 935 tests for Covid-19 were performed in Slovenia on Wednesday, which confirmed 27 new infections, making for a total of 136 cases in the past seven days. There were 24 patients hospitalised with Covid-19, including two in intensive care. The death increased by four in a week to 115.
        LJUBLJANA/VIENNA, Austria - Slovenia and Austria agreed to try out joint surveillance of the shared border using technology such as cameras and drones, as Interior Minister Aleš Hojs held talks with his Austrian counterpart Karl Nehammer at a conference on migrations along the Balkan route.
        LJUBLJANA - The government extended the subsidised furlough scheme by another month until the end of August with Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj saying the measure was still deemed needed despite an improvement in the labour market.
        WARSAW, Poland - Visiting Poland, Foreign Minister Anže Logar met his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz and EU Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski. The officials reaffirmed good relations between Poland and Slovenia, with Logar expressing interest in continuing and strengthening cooperation between the Visegrad Four and Slovenia. Czaputowicz said that Slovenia and the Visegrad countries achieved success together at the recent EU summit.
        LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije said it had started setting up the country's first commercial 5G networks using its existing base stations and within the existing 2600MHz frequency spectrum used in 4G. Coverage will initially be provided in about 25% of the country but is expected to exceed to 33% by the end of the year.

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