Last Week in Slovenia: 21 - 27 August 2020

By , 29 Aug 2020, 10:30 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 21 - 27 August 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, 21 August
        LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry unveiled a long-awaited draft bill on long-term care, envisaging a full coverage of rights from mandatory insurance for long-term care, with the contribution rate proposed at 1.47%, while the employer and employee contributions for mandatory health insurance to be reduced.
        LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry presented a draft bill under which unvaccinated children will not be allowed to go to public kindergartens and private kindergartens co-funded by the state. This is to prevent unwarranted avoidance of vaccination.
        LJUBLJANA - Nine countries, including neighbouring Croatia, were put on Slovenia's red list of countries where risk of coronavirus is high and quarantine required for most returns. To prevent waiting times at the border, holidaymakers were given until Monday midnight to return from Croatia without quarantine.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič, with the pair agreeing that it would be useful to hold a round-table debate on the rule of law. The meeting was held after Florjančič took issue with the communication between the three branches of power, most notably PM Janez Janša's controversial tweets.
        IDRIJA - The long-running battle for control of industrial conglomerate Hidria was won by the group of managers around Iztok Seljak and Dušan Lapajne. Following the takeover bid published in July by the pair together with partners, the Seljak-Lapajne camp managed to acquire enough shares for definitive majority ownership.
        LJUBLJANA - Between 1,500 and 3,000 protesters gathered in Prešeren Square for the 18th Friday evening protest, this time criticising the government's oversight of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and letting it know they intended to insist on protests "as long as necessary".
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's registered unemployment rate was down 0.1 of a percentage point in June over May to 9.2%, Employment Service data showed. In February, before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the rate was 7.9%.

SATURDAY, 22 August
        LJUBLJANA - The new German ambassadors to Slovenia, who will take turns in their duties in what is the first such ambassador duo appointed by Germany, told the STA they saw a solution to the coronavirus crisis in a united EU. Natalie Kauther and Adrian Pollmann said this would be one of the main priorities as their country took over the EU presidency on 1 July.
        LJUBLJANA - 300 persons infected with Sars-CoV-2 came to Slovenia from abroad, of whom 55% from Croatia, showed data obtained by National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) epidemiologists and labs for the period between 1 June and 21 August. The majority of a total of 165 persons who brought the virus from Croatia, or 120, were aged 15 to 34, almost all of them men.
        SEŽANA - The 30th season of the Slovenian football league got under way with a ten-day delay due to Covid-19 infections in some clubs. Celje, crowned champions for the first time in history last season, will be defending the title as the ten participating clubs are closer than ever in terms of quality.

SUNDAY, 23 August
        LJUBLJANA - The 15th Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) will be very different from previous years due to the coronavirus, but the line-up will nevertheless be exceptional, Peter Grk, the secretary general of Slovenia's highest-profile international political event, told the STA in an interview. Restrictions will be in place and some panels will be held online. There will be fewer guests, the forum will be just a one-day event, and there will be no youth and business sections.

MONDAY, 24 August
        LJUBLJANA - Jelko Kacin, the government's spokesperson for Covid-19, described Croatia as a "serious threat to all other EU countries" due to the coronavirus situation there. He told Reporter magazine that Croatia successfully tackling coronavirus was in Slovenia's strategic interest.
        LJUBLJANA - The Janez Janša government's rating dropped for the fourth month in the latest POP TV poll for August, from 50.4% to 53%, but the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) continued to top party rankings with 18.2%, double the support mustered by the two opposition parties sharing second spot, the LMŠ and SD.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his Georgian counterpart David Zalkaliani discussed over the phone bilateral relations, and agreed the economic and political cooperation as well as cooperation as part of multilateral forums should be further enhanced. Logar presented Slovenia's preparations for its upcoming EU presidency in the second half of 2021, which will also highlight Eastern Partnership.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left proposed to parliament to call a consultative referendum on a bill envisaging EUR 780 million in defence expenditure in 2021-2026, arguing the money that could be spent wiser would go for an imaginary enemy.
        LJUBLJANA - Archaeologists presented details of the remains of about 250 victims exhumed in July from a mass grave uncovered in May in Kočevski Rog, a forest area riddled with chasms in the south-east. Most of the victims were young men, mainly civilians, killed in the autumn of 1945. Jože Dežman, the chair of the government commission for mass graves, believes the cave could provide some clues as to what happened to the Novo Mesto Homeguard, a group of several thousand who failed to flee after WWII.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) said its MEP Irena Joveva (Renew) had recently become a target of insults on social media and web portals linked to the ruling Democrats (SDS), including web portal Nova24TV, because of her Macedonian descent. The party called on PM Janez Janša who is a co-owner of Nova24TV, to make sure "his portal stops publishing insulting, nationalist and racist articles". The prime ministers's office would not comment.
        BRNIK - The flight school of the bankrupt former air carrier Adria Airways was recently acquired by an institute led by former Constitutional Court chief justice Peter Jambrek, who entered the venture with Chinese partner Kai Dai in a bid to "become the biggest flight school in the world". The Institute for Constitutional System and Human Rights bought the school for EUR 7,500, the asking price at the first public auction.

TUESDAY, 25 August
        LJUBLJANA - Coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Aleksandra Pivec lost a vote of confidence at a session of the party's governing council. However, she remains the leader for now as the council did not take a vote on her dismissal, having suspended the session for differing interpretations as to whether it can dismiss the party president given that she was elected by a congress.
        STRASBOURG, France - The CoE's platform on journalism posted a piece entitled War on the Media in which PM Janez Janša presents his take on the Slovenian media landscape. It also posted an accompanying letter, in which the government argues the piece should be read in its entirety to fully understand Janša's views about the media with a leftist bias. The government sent it there after the platform posted in May a statement by the Slovenian Journalist Association saying Janša's piece was yet another instance of discreditation of journalists.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his Argentinian counterpart Felipe Carlos Sola affirmed the good cooperation between Slovenia and Argentina and expressed interest in further strengthening ties as they spoke over videolink. They also called for an increase in trade. Logar also held a telephone talk with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian tourism industry, which has been severely affected by the Covid-19 epidemic, saw an upbeat trend in Slovenian tourist arrivals and nights in July, partly offsetting the low numbers from the first half of the year, the Statistics Office said. Over 653,000 arrivals were recorded at accommodation facilities in July, down 27.5% compared to July 2019, with the number of nights down by 18.5% to 2.07 million.
        KOPER - Net profit at port operator Luka Koper dropped by 40% year on year to EUR 15 million in the first six months of 2020, as net revenue was down 11% to EUR 107 million. EBIT, at EUR 17 million, was down 42% compared to the same period last year and EBITDA dropped by 29% to EUR 31 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry, organisations involved in civil protection and disaster relief, and municipalities signed an agreement on cooperation in the phasing of EU funds; they expect EUR 120 million in EU funds by 2027 and another EUR 30 million in own funds to modernise infrastructure, equipment and training.
        POSTOJNA - A migrants rights advocacy group staged a rally in front of the Centre for Aliens, claiming that conditions at the centre were reminiscent of a concentration camp and that the rights of foreigners kept there were violated. The police strongly rejected all the accusations.
        CELJE - Borut Gombač, 58, was honoured with the Veronika Prize for best collection of poetry, while the Golden Coin of Poetry for lifetime achievements went to Iztok Geister Plamen, 74.

WEDNESDAY, 26 August
        BERLIN, Germany - President Borut Pahor and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for a strong and united EU as Pahor paid a working visit to Berlin. He said Slovenia wanted to remain part of the core EU countries while Steinmeier pointed to the union's common future.
        LJUBLJANA - The defence and interior ministries intend to boost cooperation in guarding the state border, so the Defence Ministry said it would tweak the rules and prepare four levels of deployment in line with the defence act provisions which enable soldiers to help the police patrol the border without having police powers.
        LJUBLJANA - ZSSS, the largest confederation of trade unions in Slovenia, criticised several parts of a draft bill on long-term care. It is primarily concerned that it "opens the door wide to pure private practice" and that the standard package of services is not defined.
        LJUBLJANA - A new task force for Roma issues, set under the Janez Janša government, held its first meeting. Its chair, Interior Ministry State Secretary Anton Olaj said Novo Mesto police had recently intensified their presence and preventive activity in areas populated by the Roma community in the south-east in a bid to prevent high rates of violence and crime. More short-term measures were proposed, and the task force will also start drafting legislative changes.
        CELJE - Chemical company Cinkarna Celje saw its net profit plummet by 21% in the first half of the year to EUR 9.9 million while revenue was down 4% to EUR 88.7 million, showed the company's unaudited results.
        LJUBLJANA - Since tourism vouchers became valid on 19 June, the majority has been redeemed at hotels, followed by rooms, self-catering apartments and camps, showed data from the Financial Administration. A total of 511,554 Slovenian permanent residents have used their vouchers, which is 25% of all beneficiaries.

THURSDAY, 27 August
        LJUBLJANA - The government extended the subsidised furlough scheme, one of the main ways in which Slovenia has propped up the economy during the coronacrisis, by a month until the end of September.
        LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed Slovenian primary and secondary school students will start the new school year in classrooms on 1 September, but will have to observe strict anti-Covid-19 guidelines.
        LJUBLJANA - Investors in the Ljubljana Passenger Terminal, a project valued at EUR 370 million, will shortly sign a special memorandum to signal the formal start of the project, Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Blaž Košorok and Sandor Csanyi, the owner of the Hungarian OTP bank, agreed. The public segment features a new railway station and a new bus station with a parking garage, to by founded by Slovenia, as well as a commercial segment, for which the money should come from OTP.
        LJUBLJANA - Representatives of Slovenian farmers made an urgent appeal to the government to intervene in the market since some purchase prices are so low they do no even cover the cost of production.
        ŠTORE - News portal Necenzurirano reported that the Štore-based manufacturer of rolls and castings Valji, one of the main employers in the Celje area, had been taken over by Austrian company Rudolf Weinberger Holding, which includes Valji's Austrian rival Eisenwerk Sulzau-Werfen.

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