What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.
FRIDAY, 28 August
LJUBLJANA - Petrol, Slovenia's largest energy group, saw its net profit halved to EUR 20.6 million in the first six months of the year, as sales plunged by 28%, to EUR 1.53 billion, due to the lockdown and subsequent coronavirus-related restrictions.
BERLIN, Germany - EU foreign ministers, including Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar, urged Turkey at an informal meeting in Berlin to end unilateral actions in the eastern Mediterranean, which are fuelling tensions in the country's relations with Greece and Cyprus, and hence with the EU. The ministers called for safeguarding the EU's interests and expressed solidarity with Cyprus and Greece.
LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) said it had launched an investigation after preliminary findings indicated the risk of corruption in alleged wrongdoing of Agriculture Minister and embattled Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) head Aleksandra Pivec.
JESENICE - After months of delays, first because of complaints in the contracting procedure and then due to the coronavirus pandemic, the workers of Turkish contractor Cengiz finally started boring the second tube of the Karavanke Tunnel with Austria on the Slovenian side.
LJUBLJANA - The long-planned project of linking Koroško in the north and Bela Krajina in the south with the motorway network, known as the Third Development Axis, got a fresh impetus, as motorway company DARS picked a consortium of three contractors - Kolektor, CGP and VOC Celje - to carry out EUR 8.47 million worth of initial works on the northern part of the planned expressway.
LJUBLJANA - The merger of Dnevnik and Večer, the publishers of the third and fourth largest daily newspapers in Slovenia, has come to a halt, Dnevnik's owner Bojan Petan of publisher DZS and Večer's co-owner Uroš Hakl confirmed. While Petan implied there were disagreements over ownership, Hakl said the reasons were a matter of business.
LJUBLJANA - The 19th Friday anti-government protests was peaceful with police detecting only one violation of the public assembly act. According to the police, some 4,000 people gathered for the rally, which focussed on environmental issues.
SATURDAY, 29 August
BRUSSELS, Belgium - A publication released by the EU Commission assessed that high labour taxation in Slovenia has a highly probable negative impact on the labour market and hence the country's GDP. The Slovenian government has been advised to introduce a more growth-friendly tax system.
LJUBLJANA - The latest poll commissioned by the private broadcaster Nova24TV showed the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) top the party ratings on 20.9% support, followed by the opposition Social Democrats (11.9%) and the Marjan Šarec List (10.2%). The opposition Left polled at 6.8%, followed by the coalition New Slovenia (NSi) at 3.1%, Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at 2.6% and the opposition National Party (SNS) at 2.1%.
LJUBLJANA - Insurance companies operating in Slovenia last year collected a record EUR 2.3 billion in gross premiums, which is 7.2% more than in 2019, while damage payouts were up 3.2% to EUR 1.6 billion.
SUNDAY, 30 August
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a revised budget for 2020. With revenue down and expenditure soaring due to the coronavirus epidemic, the budget deficit is projected to stand at EUR 4.2 billion or 9.3% of GDP. Revenue is planned at EUR 9.2 billion, almost 15% lower than in the currently valid budget, and expenditure at EUR 13.4 billion, nearly 30% higher. A major portion of the extra funding is to go to the Finance Ministry, its budget increasing by EUR 2.1 billion to EUR 4.6 billion.
LJUBLJANA - Serbia was moved from the red list of high-risk countries to the yellow list. There is a quarantine requirement for travellers from countries on the yellow list, but there are many exemptions. Croatia remains on the red list, so quarantine is still required for most travellers returning from the country.
BLED - Prime Minister Janez Janša held talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. The agenda included bilateral relations, the situation in Western Balkans and the situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
MONDAY, 31 August
BLED - The Bled Strategic Forum boasted the most high-profile turnout in its 15-year history despite the coronavirus pandemic. FM Anže Logar said the debates, which focused on the EU's future and the region's role, were a prelude to talks at the EU level, but the event also marked a "return to the diplomatic map" for Slovenia. The line-up, which included Hungarian PM Victor Orban, Poland's Mateusz Morawiecki, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, was meanwhile criticised by opposition parties, which expressed concern with Slovenia's shift in foreign policy towards eastern EU members.
LJUBLJANA - Statistics Office data showed Slovenia's output contracted by 13% in real terms in the second quarter year-on-year. The second straight quarter of negative growth places the country in a technical recession with the annual rate of contraction in the first half of the year at 7.9%. On the up side, available data suggest a rebound in the second half of the year.
LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council, a government advisory body, updated its estimate of the actual public budget expenditure directed thus far toward mitigating the impact of the coronacrisis, putting it at EUR 1.5 billion. While this compares to a government-planned EUR 2.8 billion, the measures could reduce the GDP contraction by about 1.5 percentage points.
LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Peter Jenko from the post of director general of the Financial Administration (FURS) after he led the national revenue service for nine months. Irena Nunčič, until now one of the state secretaries at the Finance Ministry, became acting director general for up to six months.
LJUBLJANA - Consumer prices in Slovenia fell by 0.1% in August year-on-year as well as on July with the Statistics Office attributing annual deflation mainly to cheaper petroleum products and the monthly fall in prices to clearance sales. Goods prices went down by 1.2% in a year, while prices of services rose by 1.6%.
LJUBLJANA - National motorway company DARS said it posted EUR 187.9 million in operating revenue in the first half of 2020, a 25% drop compared to the same period in 2019 due to the corona crisis. Net profit plunged by almost two thirds year-on-year, totalling EUR 28.4 million.
LJUBLJANA - The business newspaper Finance reported that Comtrade CDS, the largest Slovenian IT company in terms of workforce size, had been acquired by the British IT company Endava in a deal worth EUR 60 million.
TUESDAY, 1 September
BLED - PM Janez Janša held talks with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban. They discussed "close all-around cooperation" between the two countries. The pair expressed strong support for the respective minorities on both sides of the border and called for stronger cooperation in a variety of bilateral projects. They also "highlighted the importance of strategic cooperation in the Central European area".
BLED - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman told the STA that open issues between Croatia and Slovenia, including the border issue, should be resolved bilaterally. He said the EU Court of Justice advised Slovenia and Croatia to seek a bilateral solution. "There is no arbitration if there is no other side," he said.
LJUBLJANA - After a split on whether its head Aleksandra Pivec should step down over suspicion of corruption, the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) remained divided over the issue of which party body can dismiss the her even though the commission for statute matters said that the party council and not only the congress, as claimed by Pivec, has that power.
VIENNA, Austria - Having analysed the state of mass media in Slovenia since the Janez Janša government took over in mid-March, the International Press Institute (IPI) said in a report that "few countries in Europe have experienced such a swift downturn in press and media freedom after a new government came to power". The IPI urged the OSCE, the EU and the Council of Europe to follow the developments.
LJUBLJANA - The new school year started in-class for almost 191,000 primary and secondary pupils and almost 18,000 teachers. However, many precautions are in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including the wearing of face masks in common areas, which the public health authorities recommended for pupils of all ages.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian police officers who will find themselves in danger received the green light to use electroshock weapons against their attackers. The police say the use of the new weapon will be very restricted and all procedures involving them will be recorded.
BRIANCON, France - Slovenia's cycling star Primož Roglič won the fourth stage of the Tour de France, while Tadej Pogačar in second place helped secure a historic double win for Slovenia. After Thursday's sixth stage, the pair were placed second and third respectively in the overall standings.
WEDNESDAY, 2 September
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded a spike in coronavirus infections with the daily tally hitting 55 in Tuesday's testing, a five month high, as 1,608 tests were performed, the highest daily number so far. The number of new cases has been rising steadily in recent weeks, but there have been few new deaths, the total figure by Tuesday standing at 134. The estimated total number of active cases is around 500. The number of hospitalised cases remained stable, standing at 26 on Wednesday. The government's chief Covid-19 advisor, Bojana Beović, is concerned about the spike coinciding with the start of the new school year.
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry condemned the confirmed poisoning of Alexei Navalny. "The use of the nerve agent to silence an opposition leader is unacceptable. We expect clarifications from the Russian Federation and its cooperation with the international community," the ministry said.
LJUBLJANA - Delo reported that Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro had invited Slovenia to join Poland in withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, a European treaty aimed at preventing violence against women. While Ziobro has labelled the convention a feminist invention that wants to justify homosexual ideology, the Slovenian Justice Ministry said it saw no reason to withdraw from the convention or to amend it.
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša expressed support for the Czech Republic after a visit by a senior Czech official to Taiwan has upset China. "EU-China relations are based on dialogue and mutual respect. Threats directed at one of the EU members and its representatives contradict the very essence of our partnership and as such are unacceptable," Janša tweeted.
LJUBLJANA - Acting upon complaints by two Slovenian builders, the National Review Commission has shortened the list of suitable bidders for the principal construction works on the new rail section from Divača to Koper. While some bidders will reportedly be asked to supplement their bids, one bidder each from Slovenia, Turkey, China and Austria definitely remain in play for what are an estimated EUR 700 million worth of works.
LJUBLJANA - The Finance Ministry proposed a hike in excise duties that entails a 4.8% increase in the average price of a pack of cigarettes in October. The prices of other tobacco products will also go up, while heat-not-burn products and electronic cigarettes will not be affected.
THURSDAY, 3 September
LUXEMBOURG - By seizing European Central Bank (ECB) documents from the Slovenian central bank in an investigation of the 2013 bank bailout in 2016, Slovenia breached provisions of EU law that grant the ECB special immunity, an advocate general at the Court of Justice of the EU said in her opinion in a case brought against Slovenia by the EU Commission. The opinion is not binding on the court, which is expected to deliver a ruling before the end of the year unless the Commission withdraws the suit before then, a possibility raised in July by PM Janez Janša in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
BRDO PRI KRANJU - Foreign Minister Anže Logar announced a more ambitious foreign policy of Slovenia, with the EU and NATO memberships as the fundamental framework, as he addressed the annual meeting of Slovenian diplomats. An overhaul of the main strategic foreign policy documents was also announced. President Borut Pahor on the other hand said he was concerned that an east-west divide could eventually emerge in the EU. He added Slovenia had always built its national interest on strengthening the EU's unity, and that he hoped this would remain the case in the future.
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar met his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian as part of an official two-day visit to Slovenia which the Foreign Ministry said reaffirmed the countries' shared interest in further strengthening of their strategic partnership.
KOUROU, French Guiana - Following a number of cancellations due to poor weather, the launch of Slovenia's first satellites, the nanosatellite Trisat and the microsatellite Nemo HD, as part of a project by the European space company Arianespace, was executed successfully. Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek said "Slovenia has joined the group of countries with operative satellites in space, a top achievement that should make us extremely proud".
LJUBLJANA - The registered jobless total in Slovenia stood at 88,172 at the end of August, which is a 1.4% decrease on July but 23.2% above the August 2019 figure due to unemployment growth in April and May.
LJUBLJANA - Lot Polish Airlines will temporarily suspend its Ljubljana-Warsaw flights this month, with the last flight scheduled for 16 September, while low-cost carrier Wizz Air has cancelled its plans to fly between Ljubljana and Belgium's Charleroi over the coming winter.