Last Week in Slovenia: 2 - 8 October, 2020

By , 10 Oct 2020, 09:00 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 2 - 8 October, 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, 2 October
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša highlighted after the EU summit the urgency of serious preparations for the autumn and winter season with the novel coronavirus, especially in light of reports that vaccination will likely still not be available early next year, at least not in sufficient amounts.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The new EU migration pact in the current form is not entirely acceptable to anyone but everyone finds it a good starting point for further negotiations, PM Janez said after the EU summit.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janša commented on the European Commission's concerns about the lack of resources in Slovenia for key independent bodies like the corruption watchdog and the networks regulator by saying he was much more worried about the lack of funds for healthcare than he was about NGOs and other organisations.
        LJUBLJANA - Unofficial reports suggested that the Slovenian government would classify the Chinese technological giant Huawei as a high-risk supplier shortly. On 6 Oct Huawei expressed disappointment, saying this was unjustified.
        AJDOVŠČINA - Bia Separations, a biotechnology company, was acquired for EUR 360 million by Sartorius, a leading international pharmaceutical and laboratory equipment supplier. The takeover is still subject to regulatory approval but is expected to be wrapped up by the end of this year.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided that face masks will no longer be required for kindergarten children, primary and secondary school pupils in their class, and for teachers up to the third grade of primary school.
        KRŠKO - The Environment Agency (ARSO) decided that impact assessment and an environmental permit will be needed for the works needed to extend the life of the country's only nuclear reactor beyond 2023. The N-plant operator indicated on 6 Oct that it would not challenge the decision.
        TRBOVLJE - The government and the state-owned power holding HSE signed a concession contract for hydro power plants on the central part of the Slovenian section of the Sava river. Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said the first three of the planned power plants would built in ten years.
        KOPER - Port operator Luka Koper hosted the ambassadors of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Czechia, with CEO Dimitrij Zadel saying the ambition of the port was to become the main maritime window for the economies of Visegrad Group members.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor hosted representatives of the Slovenian minority in Austria in the run-up to the centenary of the Carinthian plebiscite on 10 Oct. Pahor said the predominant opinion was the past 100 years should be remembered in a way which would make it easier to build a common future.
        LJUBLJANA - The situation in healthcare and what is seen as its ongoing privatisation was in the centre of what was the 24th consecutive Friday anti-government protest rally in Ljubljana. The protesters demanded the resignation of Health Minister Tomaž Gantar and of National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) director Milan Krek.

SATURDAY, 3 October
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša called on the public to act responsibly and abide by precautionary measures to avoid further restrictions as the coronavirus outbreak in the country is spreading, also suggesting that Slovenia was but a step away from declaring epidemic again.
        LJUBLJANA - The government allocated just over EUR 2.5 million for the European Commission Emergency Support Instrument for advance payments to manufacturers of promising vaccines against Covid-19.
        LJUBLJANA - Rating agency Moody's upgraded Slovenia's long-term issuer and senior unsecured bond ratings by one notch to A3 from Baa1, changing the outlook to stable. Announcing the news, the Finance Ministry said the upgrade showed Slovenia as one of the most reliable countries for foreign investors.
        LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin stressed the importance of unity as he addressed a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the Tactical Line, a paramilitary unit formed during independence efforts on 17 May 1990 as Yugoslav authorities wanted official Slovenian army units disarmed.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia climbed one more spot in the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking to 31st among 63 countries.
        LJUBLJANA - Participants in a Hike for Life called for protecting human life from conception to natural death.

SUNDAY, 4 October
        TEHARJE - Celje diocese administrator Rok Metličar gave mass remembering an estimated 5,000 victims of war and post-war summary executions connected to the post-World War Two camp in Teharje.
        LJUBLJANA -, the leading real estate website in Slovenia, was reported being taken over by Real Web, a company owning several leading internet real estate platforms in Europe.
        LIEGE, Belgium - Slovenia's cycling star Primož Roglič added victory at the Belgian one-day classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege to his portfolio of prestigious achievements.

MONDAY, 5 October
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša presented a draft bill on the National Demographic Fund, a new state fund designed to pool all state assets, around EUR 8.6 billion, to shore up the pension system, to the Economic Social Council (ESS) before the government adopted it later in the day.
        LJUBLJANA - Aleksandra Pivec stepped down as agriculture, forestry and food minister just a few hours before the National Assembly was to vote on her dismissal. State secretary Jože Podgoršek was formally nominated for the job on 6 Oct.
        PORTOROŽ - Central banks do not expect the Covid-19-induced crisis to be as deep as initially feared, but if the situation were to deteriorate, they are ready to step in and react, Boštjan Vasle, the governor of Slovenia's central bank, told the 37th Financial Conference.
        LJUBLJANA - Telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije made 5G technology available to its users, having set up the country's first commercial 5G network in late July. Built on existing infrastructure, the network does not yet cover the entire country, with the company expecting to provide coverage to 33% of the population by year's end.
        LJUBLJANA - The registered jobless total in Slovenia stood at 83,766 at the end of September, a 5% drop on August but a 20% increase compared to the registered unemployment figure in September 2019.
        LJUBLJANA - Czech MEP Alexandr Vondra apologised to his Slovenian counterparts for a tweet in which he labelled Slovenians "opportunistic pigs". Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS) accepted the apology but warned that Vondra had not erased the tweet he posted after a defeat of Slavia Prague in a football match featuring Slovenian referee Damir Skomina.
        LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana's tourism sector suffered a significant blow this year, as the coronavirus pandemic suspended air travel. This summer, the capital saw 160,341 overnight stays, 75% less than a year ago.
        RADEČE - The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the development of an innovative solution at the Radeče paper mill. The company has started producing antibacterial paper which apart from inhibiting the growth of bacteria also reduces the spread of viruses and is thus ideal for people with weak immune systems.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian cyclist Stanko Verstovšek set a new record in the 24-hour time trial by covering a total of 914.02 kilometres in that span on a route in the north-eastern region of Prekmurje. He beat the previous record-holder, Christoph Strasser of Austria, by more than 15 kilometres.

TUESDAY, 6 October
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted guidelines for further anti-coronavirus restrictions, introducing a sliding scale of measures to be adopted based on the incidence of cases and the strain the virus puts on healthcare.
        LJUBLJANA - Risks to financial stability have increased sharply as a result of the coronacrisis and the accompanying deep economic slump. Income and credit risk have increased as well, showed the Financial Stability Report by Banka Slovenije.
        LJUBLJANA - Uroš Lepoša, the acting director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), tendered his resignation after only some two months on the job, citing personal circumstances. News portal, Lepoša stepped down due to political pressure.
        LJUBLJANA - The two-member board of 2TDK featuring Dušan Zorko as director general and Marko Brezigar resigned in agreement with the company's supervisory board, which appointed Pavle Hevka and Iztok Černoša in their place.
        LJUBLJANA - Anže Erbežnik has been formally nominated for the vacant post on the Constitutional Court and Arjana Brezigar Masten for the vice-governor post at the central bank, the office of President Borut Pahor announced.
        LJUBLJANA - Rating agency Moody's upgraded the credit ratings for the NLB and NKBM banks, for both from Baa2 and Baa1, preserving a stable outlook.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia promotes the launching of the EU recovery and resilience facility as soon as possible and expects no red tape, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said after an informal virtual meeting of EU finance ministers.
        LJUBLJANA/MEŽICA - Addressing a symposium entitled Carinthia as Diplomatic Issue 1918-1920, held online ahead of the centenary of the Carinthian plebiscite, Foreign Minister Anže Logar stressed the historic ties between Slovenia and Austria and the importance of dialogue between the countries.
        LJUBLJANA - Every fifth Slovenian was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, shows a recent survey commissioned by the Justice Ministry. Minister Lilijana Kozlovič announced that a bill enabling the country's first Barnahus for child victims of sexual abuse would be likely passed in 2021.
        LJUBLJANA - The 23rd Festival of Slovenian Film (FSF) kicked off. This year, the festival is marked by a drop in film production due to the coronavirus pandemic and a suspension of state funds. Film makers called on the government to release overdue funds and boost and streamline film funding.

WEDNESDAY, 7 October
        LJUBLJANA - Economist Jože P. Damijan, supported by a group of acclaimed scholars and artists, offered to spearhead a centre-left Constitutional Arch Coalition meant to become an alternative to the Janez Janša government that is, they believe, turning Slovenia into "an illiberal democracy". The leaders of the four centre-left opposition parties confirmed talks were under way.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry responded on the enlargement package for the Western Balkan and Turkey, stressing the importance of a credible enlargement policy for peace, stability, security and economic growth of Europe. The package was also welcomed by Slovenian MEPs on 6 Oct.
        SLOVENJ GRADEC - The government formally declared Črna na Koroškem, site of a major coronavirus outbreak at a residential facility for people with mental disabilities, Slovenia's first Covid-19 danger zone.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia's eight MEPs expressed differing views on the European Parliament's somewhat surprising support for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by 60% compared to 1990.
        LENDAVA - The city council of Lendava, a bilingual municipality on the border with Hungary, honoured Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto by making him an honorary resident.
        LJUBLJANA - The international comics festival Tinta kicked off in Ljubljana and three other cities.

THURSDAY, 8 October
        LJUBLJANA - The government imposed new restrictions following a sharp rise in Slovenia's coronavirus curve, which saw a record 387 new cases discovered on Wednesday as the rate of positive tests surpassed 10% for the first time. A total of 1,640 new cases were reported in the past week and the death toll rose by 8 to 160. The measures include a ban on gatherings of more than ten people, except for organised events sanctioned by the National Institute of Public Health. Slovenian epidemiologists said they have readjusted their contact tracing strategy to focus on contacts of infected persons in care homes, education, healthcare and shared households.
        LJUBLJANA/VIENNA, Austria - The Slovenian and Austrian presidents, Borut Pahor and Alexander Van der Bellen, called for the protection of minorities as an element that enriches as they spoke with the STA and APA ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite.
        LJUBLJANA - The government started debating legislative changes merging eight key regulators into two super-agencies. The regulators were reportedly allowed only 24 hours to give their remarks. The proposal has been strongly criticised by the opposition, the regulators and a public sector unions as an attempt to assert political power, while the government said its goal is streamlining.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told his EU counterparts, who discussed the new migration and asylum pact for the first time, that more focus should be given to an effective EU return policy. He said the European Commisison-proposed new migration pact contained compulsory relocation and that "this can be quite a problem in the talks in the coming months."
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received the credentials of the UK's new ambassador to Slovenia Tiffany Sadler and of her Slovak counterpart Peter Zelenak.
        LONDON, UK - Slovenia placed 14th among 128 countries in the World Energy Council's 2020 Energy Trilemma Index, which ranks countries by their ability to provide sustainable energy. The country lost two spots compared with the year before, but the methodology has changed.
        LJUBLJANA - Fuel retailers have only slightly adjusted prices of diesel and regular petrol at service stations outside motorways the first week after full deregulation.
        LJUBLJANA - Lonely Planet selected Bled among the top 10 destinations which offer unique and memorable experiences. The second edition of the list of recommended destinations puts Bled sixth alongside the world's most famous sights such as Petra, Uluru or Yellowstone.

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