Last Week in Slovenia: 16-22 October, 2020

By , 24 Oct 2020, 13:11 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 16-22 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, 16 October
        ROME/TRIESTE, Italy - National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič held talks with the presidents of both chambers of the Italian parliament, the chairs of several parliamentary commissions and a Foreign Ministry state secretary. The focus of the talks was on reform of Italian electoral legislation. This was also the main topic of what was first official visit of Foreign Minister Anže Logar to the Slovenian community in Italy.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša said that fake news in the sense of denial of the danger of the new coronavirus, spreading in Europe mainly through social media and in Slovenia also through mainstream media, was what was forcing Europe and individual countries to take harsher measures than would otherwise be needed.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Putting 38% of Slovenian territory under Natura 2000 protection was "a shot in the knee", PM Janez Janša told the press after an EU summit that had climate goals as one of the items on the agenda. He said that the European average for the area, where it is forbidden to produce energy from natural and sustainable sources, is 18%.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) said "appalled by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša's latest attack against the Slovene public broadcaster STA". This comes after Janša's Twitter post on Thursday calling the STA a "national disgrace". "This demonising of public service media and journalism must stop," said the EFJ.
        LJUBLJANA - Almost 900 new coronavirus were confirmed, a new daily high. The figures come to a positivity rate of roughly 16%.
        LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Ministry defended the national energy and climate plans in the face of a review from the European Commission, saying that in some areas Slovenia's goals were even more ambitious than the bloc's commitments. The ministry also said the Commission highlighted some positive aspects of the plans adopted last February.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council warned that the budget expenditure planned for the next two years is too high, while also saying that the divergence from the fiscal rule was understandable and could be allowed, considering the coronavirus pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protesters returned to bicycle protests yesterday. Police said a few hundred gathered and 33 violations of the ban on gatherings in public were recorded.
        TORONTO, Canada/GRAZ, Austria - Magna International, the Canadian-Austrian automotive multinational, announced it would start producing Fisker Ocean, an electric SUV, in 2022. According to unofficial reports by the Austrian Kleine Zeitung, the car would be assembled in Magna's plants in Graz, Austria, and in Hoče, near Maribor.
        LJUBLJANA - The second Slovenia-wide digital radio network, a technology known by its acronym DAB+, was launched. The new multiplex carries the signals of regional and local radio stations, and stations serving the Italian and Hungarian minorities.
        LJUBLJANA/SLOVENJ GRADEC - The Association of Journalists and Commentators expressed concern over "a renewed abuse of the wheels of the judiciary" after Bojan Požar, author and proprietor of the news portal Požareport, received a suspended three-month prison sentence for defamation and insult due to an article in which he alleged that Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič and his former aide Matjaž Štandeker had bribed bankers.

SATURDAY, 17 October
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has condemned a terrorist attack in a Paris suburb in which an assailant beheaded a teacher. "We need to enforce zero tolerance for terrorism and street violence across #EU," Prime Minister Janez Janša said on Twitter.
        LJUBLJANA - The share of coronavirus tests that came back positive exceeded 19% for the first time on Saturday, as 726 cases were confirmed in 3,765 tests.
        LJUBLJANA - The Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) condemned an incident that occurred during a 16 October protest in Ljubljana and involved the rapper Zlatko grabbing the camera from a Nova24 cameraman. It said this was an "attack on journalistic freedom and consequently on freedom of expression." The Slovenian Journalists' Association condemned all forms of violence, both verbal and physical.
        WROCLAW, Poland - Slovenian writer Goran Vojnović was awarded the Angelus Central European Literary Prize, conferred to works by Central European writers translated into the Polish, for his 2013 novel My Yugoslavia. The annual award is conferred by Wroclaw to writers who take up the most important topics for the present day.

SUNDAY, 18 October
        LJUBLJANA - The government officially declared a coronavirus epidemic for the entire country starting on 19 October. meaning that the national protection and rescue plan was activated. The epidemic was declared for an initial period of 30 days. Prime Minister Janez Janša called for responsibility and solidarity in the face of the pandemic in a video address to Slovenian citizens. He said a challenging period of cold weather was ahead, which required effective measures.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia confirmed 537 new coronavirus cases in 2,637 tests. The positivity rate exceeded 20% for the first time. The 14-day cumulative rate of infection per 100,000 people reached 339 compared to 317 the day before.

MONDAY, 19 October
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor delivered a video address to the people underlining that at the time of crisis, community closes its ranks. "We have to be courageous and determined but also tolerant and patient. This is particularly important for politics. It must make an honest effort for mutual respect and cooperation," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of new coronavirus infections reached 794 in 4,326 tests. Two more people died, brining the death toll to 192. About 1% of Slovenia's population is infected with Sars-CoV-2 based on the test positivity rate, the head of the government task force Bojana Beović said.
        LJUBLJANA - Facing criticism from the opposition in parliament about the government's response to the Covid-19 epidemic, Prime Minister Janez Janša assured MPs that Slovenia had prepared well for the second wave. He said the second wave of the epidemic would eventually pass and that only then it would be possible to make comparisons with other countries.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša presented the government's plans regarding the distribution of EU and state recovery funds. He said investments were in the healthcare system and infrastructure, which would include two new infectious disease clinics and nursing hospitals in all regions.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar hosted his counterpart from North Macedonia Bujar Osmani for talks that focused on preparations for an intergovernmental conference at which North Macedonia expects to start EU membership talks. Logar expressed the belief that the talks would start during Germany's presidency of the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor stressed at a virtual summit of the Three Seas Initiative that this platform offers a unique opportunity to change this part of Europe into a modern, sustainable and innovative society. He added that the initiative must not be understood as a grouping of certain EU members countering other members. Foreign Minister Anže Logar took part in a ministerial panel devoted to smart money.
        LJUBLJANA - The Nova Gorica Administrative Court was reported to have annulled the dismissal of former director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Darko Muženič. The court's decision is final, so there is no possibility of an appeal.
        LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana's city councillors adopted a statement condemning any activities or gatherings of paramilitary or nationalist groups in the capital. The opposition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) protested, unsuccessfully proposing that the item be removed from the City Council's agenda.
        LJUBLJANA - Chief supervisor of telco Telekom Slovenije Aleš Šabeder and supervisors Barbara Cerovšek Zupančič and Bernarda Babič resigned, citing the current situation in the five-strong supervisory board. Šabeder expects the remaining two supervisory board members to follow suit.
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek signed a set of amendments to Slovenia's association agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA), which he said constituted an important step towards full-fledged membership. The minister expects cooperation with ESA to deepen further.
TUESDAY, 20 October
        LJUBLJANA - A temporary 9pm-6am curfew entered into force across Slovenia to limit the spread of coronavirus. The ceiling for gatherings was lowered from ten to six people and a blanket ban on movement among statistical regions put in place, albeit with exceptions related to work, emergency situations and services, family assistance and farm work.
        LJUBLJANA - A record 1,503 Sars-CoV-2 infections were confirmed as the test positivity rate exceeded 25%. Covid-19 hospitalisations rose by 20 to 333.
        TALLINN, Estonia - FM Anže Logar met his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu as he started a three-day tour of the Baltics, with the pair expressing the wish for closer cooperation on the bilateral and EU levels in digital services.
        LJUBLJANA - The centre-left opposition parties called on the government to mend its ways, which they argue are the reason for what they see as a "fatefully low level" of public trust in measures and recommendations aimed to contain the rapid spread of coronavirus in the country.
        UDINE, Italy/BILBAO/Spain - Slovenian cyclist Jan Tratnik (Team Bahrain McLaren) won the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia between Udine and San Daniele del Friuli to become only the fifth Slovenian ever to win a stage at the prestigious road race around Italy, while his more celebrated compatriot Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) won the first stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

WEDNESDAY, 21 October
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's coronavirus tally soared to another daily record as 1,663 infections were confirmed from a record 6,215 tests, a positivity rate of over 25%. Hospitalisations increased to 357, with 62 patients in intensive care.
        LJUBLJANA - Anže Erbežnik ended up two votes short of appointment as Constitutional Court judge in a 44:35 secret ballot at the National Assembly. The result was the same for the nominee for Banka Slovenije vice-governor Arjana Brezigar Masten, who also needed the absolute majority of all votes. The coalition said this was not an indication of disunity in its ranks.
        LJUBLJANA - MPs passed changes to the integrity and prevention of corruption act which the government argues strengthen the preventive and supervisory role of the anti-graft commission. They also aim at clearly delineating the powers in prosecution of corruption between the commission on the one hand and the police and prosecution on the other.
        RIGA, Latvia - Foreign Minister Anže Logar continued his three-day tour of the Baltics by meeting his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevičs for talks that focused on the importance of coordinating measures to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. They called for a joint EU approach in coordinating these measures but noted that this was largely within the purview of national governments.
        VILNIUS, Lithuania - Foreign Minister Anže Logar met Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as part of his visit to Lithuania. He said that Slovenia advocated dialogue between all political stakeholders, called for peaceful talks, and expressed support for the efforts made as part of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) and Council of Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly unanimously passed amendments to the environmental protection act designed to tackle the long-running problem of packaging waste and to transpose EU directives in the field. Under the amendments, packaging waste treatment companies will need to accept all waste from waste collection utility companies based on a fee paid by the companies that produce such waste.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed an amendment to the motorway tolling act that creates the legal basis for the e-tolling of cars. The new system is to become operational by the end of next year and drivers will be able to buy "electronic vignettes" via an app, online or at service stations.

THURSDAY, 22 October
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will put in place new restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus. Non-essential shops will be closed, as will hotels, kindergartens and student dormitories, Prime Minister Janez Janša announced. The measures, entering into force on Saturday, will initially be in place for a week and will then be re-evaluated.
        LJUBLJANA - The government asked parliament to activate Article 37a the defence act which gives members of the Slovenian Armed forces certain police powers on the border. The proposal, which the government says is primarily needed because of the additional burdened placed on police by the epidemic, needs a two-thirds majority.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša spoke via videoconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They discussed the Covid-19 situation in Europe, the EU presidency trio's activities and the situation in the Western Balkans. Janša said that Germany had offered emergency medical equipment should Slovenia require it.
        VILNIUS, Lithuania - Foreign Minister Anže Logar wrapped up a three-day tour of the Baltics by meeting Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevičius. Cooperation between the countries at bilateral, European and multi-lateral levels being on the agenda, in addition to the situation in Belarus.
        LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin had an informal videoconference with his German and Portuguese counterparts, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Joao Gomes Cravinho. The talks focused on European defence policy.
        LJUBLJANA - Singer-songwriter, musician and poet Vlado Kreslin is the recipient of this year's Ježek Award, an accolade celebrating creative and witty radio and television oeuvres and achievements. Kreslin is instilling a spirit of freedom, solidarity, tolerance and joie de vivre in Slovenia's cultural sphere, the judging panel has said.

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