What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.
FRIDAY, 6 November
LJUBLJANA - In line with a declining trend that saw some disruptions in the days to follow, Slovenia's daily coronavirus tally dropped by over a hundred to 1,564 according to testing figures for 5 November. While hospitalisations and fatalities continued to increase - record highs of 1,210 and 41 respectively were reported on 12 November - government spokesman Jelko Kacin presented data indicating a turn for the better.
LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar and his counterparts from Austria, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary met on-line as part of the informal Central 5 (C5) initiative dedicated to measures to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular cross-border movement of people, goods and services. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry said they agreed that undisrupted cross-border business should be secured as soon as possible and that measures should be unified at the EU level.
LJUBLJANA - The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell confirmed the appointment of Slovenian diplomat Marko Makovec as the deputy managing director for Western Europe, Western Balkans, Turkey and the UK at the European External Action Service. Foreign Minister Anže Logar described the appointment as a great accomplishment for Slovenian diplomacy.
LJUBLJANA - Senior officials and several organisations condemned the violence that erupted at protests in Ljubljana on 5 November, leaving 15 police officers injured. The police later confirmed that officers had used rubber bullets to disperse protests in what was the first such instance since Slovenia's independence. The opposition and the groups organising the Friday protests distanced themselves from the riots. With a photojournalist also severely injured by rioters, a response also came from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), which condemned all attacks on the media to add that "Slovenian politicians are greatly contributing to the increasing hostility and hatred towards journalists".
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's SID Banka said it will contribute EUR 23 million to an investment fund that twelve Three Seas Initiative countries between the Baltic Sea, Adriatic Sea and Black Sea have set up to improve infrastructure in transport, energy and digitalisation. For Slovenia, the fund is a novelty in that projects have been so far financed mainly with debt instruments.
LJUBLJANA - Sava Re, Slovenia's second largest insurance and reinsurance group, called off a general meeting scheduled for 16 November and consequently suspended the payment of dividends due to potential new risks stemming from its international reinsurance business.
LJUBLJANA - The executive committee of the Slovenian Basketball Association (KSZ) appointed 42-year-old Aleksander Sekulić the new head coach of the men's national basketball team.
SATURDAY, 7 November
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor congratulated Democratic candidate Joe Biden on being elected the new president of the United States and expressed his conviction that "Slovenia and the US will remain friendly countries and firm allies."
LJUBLJANA - Former Ambassador to US Božo Cerar assessed for the STA that the US presidential election has "finally ended the trans-Atlantic relations as we have known them for the last 50-70 years" and that "Trumpism" is very much alive and would be for a while even if Joe Biden wins. Europe will need to come to terms with this and take its destiny in its own hands, he said.
LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry announced that all persons suspected of having contracted Covid-19 will be tested once again, which means a break with a short period of testing that focused on persons older than 60, persons with chronic diseases, with a weakened immune system and healthcare workers. The new policy was enforced on 10 November, taking the number of tests to a near record 7,515.
LJUBLJANA - Heavy lorries will be banned from overtaking on the Slovenian A1 motorway between Šentilj (NE) and Koper (SW) in the daytime as of new year, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec announced. Overtaking will be allowed only on A1 sections with three lanes.
SUNDAY, 8 November
LJUBLJANA - The US is a strategic partner of Slovenia, which will continue to build close friendly ties with Washington in the future, PM Janez Janša said in his latest tweet related to the US presidential election, posted a day after Joe Biden declared victory. Janša had endorsed Donald Trump, called the election in Trump's favour as votes were still being counted and continued to spread election fraud claims. Several foreign media noted that Janša had not yet congratulated Biden.
LJUBLJANA - Some coalition members joined the criticism of PM Janez Janša's tweets related to the US election. "The prime minister's tweets are not benefiting Slovenia at the moment," Defence Minister Matej Tonin, the NSi leader, said. National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič, a member of the SMC party, called them indecent, saying the coalition would need to have a word on that.
LJUBLJANA - The UKC Ljubljana hospital opened new premises for Covid-19 patients which currently have 56 beds, but the location may be expanded to receive up to 100 patients. The new facility was adapted on a site planned to house a new therapeutic centre in mere ten days, on encouragement by PM Janez Janša.
MADRID, Spain - Slovenia's star cyclist Primož Roglič won the Vuelta a Espana for the second year in a row.
MONDAY, 9 November
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar urged joint approach to addressing challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic, migration, climate threats and organised crime as he took part in an online ministerial of the Berlin Process. He said the challenges were common to the EU and the Western Balkans.
LJUBLJANA - While it would approach 30% again in coronavirus testing in the following days, the positivity rate fell further to 22.49% in Sunday's testing. Government spokesman Jelko Kacin said the most encouraging piece of news was that the R0 number had fallen to 0.95.
LJUBLJANA - Addressing an event marking the 30th anniversary of a secret meeting at which a decision was made to hold a referendum on Slovenia's independence, President Borut Pahor reiterated the need for politicians to join forces again to fight coronavirus, and PM Janez Janša said those in power must offer cooperation.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek attended an informal EU ministerial that saw the participants welcome the expected change in tone in Transatlantic relations following the US election and discuss negotiations with China about a comprehensive investment agreement. Počivalšek said Slovenia wanted to see ambitious results in terms of market access, fair competition conditions, investment protection and conflict resolution.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's goods exports dropped by 0.3% year-on-year to EUR 2.958 billion in September as imports fell by 12.1% to EUR 2.642 billion. Despite the fall, the September exports figure is the second highest in the past decade. Exports for the first nine months of 2020 declined by 3.8% on the same period and imports feel by 9.1%.
LJUBLJANA - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj assessed the government measures to mitigate the coronavirus crisis had helped companies and people more than lowering the value added tax (VAT) would. He is not planning to propose a real estate tax in this term and said no rushed changes to taxes would be made in any case.
LJUBLJANA - The average mark of the work of the government in the latest poll commissioned by Delo was up for the first time since April with the government getting 2.78, up from 2.63 in October. The share of respondents seeing the government's work as positive or very positive was 27% (23.6% in October). The SDS continues to top the party rankings with 19.6%, up from 18.7%. The opposition SocDems (SD) follow with 11.7% (9.3%).
TUESDAY, 10 November
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted the sixth legislative package, worth around EUR 1bn, meant to alleviate the impact of the coronacrisis on businesses and residents. The principal measures include an extension of furlough subsidies, simplified access to loan guarantees and help with the funding of fixed costs. The latter is the main novelty.
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar highlighted Transatlantic cooperation as one of the EU's key endeavours and one of the priorities of Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU next year. Addressing an online debate hosted by the STA and the European Representation in Slovenia, Logar said Slovenia had the ambition to hold an EU-US summit attended by the US president during its presidency.
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša took part in a videoconference of heads of state of the Berlin Process as part of which the leaders of six Western Balkan countries signed declarations on Common Regional Market and Green Agenda. Janša said there had been open issues in the region for decades, some even for centuries. "We welcome steps forward ... But, let's be frank, effective regional cooperation and EU perspective for all depends on how we solve a big picture," he said on Twitter.
LJUBLJANA - Karl Erjavec, the favourite for the vacant post of president of the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at the 28 November congress, held separate meetings with PM Janez Janša and Jože P. Damijan, a potential candidate for prime minister supported by a rival coalition set up by four left-leaning opposition parties.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian banks posted a pre-tax profit of EUR 414 million for the first nine months of 2020, down a fifth year-on-year. The drop would have been 60% were it not for the one-off impact of the merger of Abanka and NKBM, the central bank said in its monthly report, which added "the liquidity and capital position of the banking system remains good".
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial output declined by 3.6% year-on-year in September. In the first nine months of the year output contracted by 7.9%. At the monthly level, output was down by 0.4%, the first monthly decline after four months of growth.
LJUBLJANA - A team of researchers led by Jure Leskovec, the Slovenian Stanford computer scientist, has created a computer model to predict the spread of Covid-19 based on people's travel habits and movements. They published their article in the journal Nature.
WEDNESDAY, 11 November
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is once again seeing an increase in coronavirus cases in elderly care homes, Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Family and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj said. There were 1,551 active cases among the total of 19,000 residents, and 718 active cases among nearly 12,300 members of staff. The virus has made its way into about 80% of care homes in Slovenia.
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar told the Foreign Policy Committee that Slovenia's relations with the US were at the highest level so far as he rejected criticism by the opposition that PM Janez Janša's Twitter posts on the US election had jeopardised the relations.
LJUBLJANA - A group of MPs from the four left-leaning opposition parties filed a motion to abolish electoral districts and introduce a preference vote after the current system was declared unconstitutional in 2018. In March, the same proposal was three votes short of the needed two-thirds majority, with the coalition Democrats (SDS) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) rejecting it. An attempt is under way to redraw the districts, but the opposition feels a preferential vote is the only viable option.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's future development and prosperity will depend of the country's ability to step up its productivity growth and digital transformation, stressed the annul report by the government's economic think-tank IMAD, which suggested the current trends are not encouraging.
LJUBLJANA - More than 45% of respondents in a poll commissioned by the newspaper Delo believe the second wave of coronavirus had caught Slovenia unprepared and more than half blame the fast spread of infections on people themselves. Only 28% of those questioned believe that the country awaited the second wave prepared.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian employers appear to be upbeat about employment prospects in the first half of next year with a survey conducted by the Employment Service projecting a 1.3% growth in employment.
LJUBLJANA - The 31st Ljubljana International Film Festival (LIFFe) got under way, but this time in the virtual realm due to the epidemic, offering 22 feature films and a selection of shorts available as an on-demand service between 11 and 22 November.
THURSDAY, 12 November
LJUBLJANA - The government announced a tightening of the lockdown. Measures include a complete ban on any kind of gathering, regardless of the number of persons, reduction of exemptions for the quarantine-free crossing of the border, suspension of public transportation, closure of all non-essential stores, and extension of the school closure. Measures will take effect between 13 and 16 November.
LJUBLJANA - By 12 November, almost 51,000 coronavirus were confirmed in the country, roughly 10,000 of which in the last week. The death toll rose to 686 from 471 since 5 November, while the rolling 14-day average per 100,000 residents fell to 961 from 1,114. Government spokesman Jelko Kacin however reiterated that the situation was stabilising and the trends were favourable with the R0 now at 0.91. A total of 1,210 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, 200 of them in intensive care units.
LJUBLJANA - The Home Affairs Committee discussed the 5 November protest at which rioters got violent against police and the press and damaged property around Ljubljana's city centre. Senior police representatives told the MPs that it had been clear from the information gathered that the protest would be violent.
LJUBLJANA - The EU Affairs Committee labelled the European Commission-proposed new pact on migration and asylum a good basis for negotiations on the EU's joint migration policy. The committee also said that Slovenia supports a right balance between solidarity and responsibility, feeling that compulsory relocation and sponsorship of returns are not the only way to show solidarity and that solidarity should be based on the voluntary decision of a member state.
LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy said the political agreement the Council and the European Parliament reached on the EU's post-coronavirus recovery package - the EUR 1.8 trillion multi-year budget and the recovery fund - was an important step in the right direction.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's imports from China saw a surge during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially due to imports of protective equipment and medical supplies. The imports of those products rose from EUR 972,000 in the first eight months of 2019 to EUR 92.9 million in the same period this year, showed a report from the Statistics Office.
LJUBLJANA - NLB group reported EUR 104.6 million in net profit in the first nine months of 2020, 36% less than in the same period last year. The supervisory board reappointed CEO Blaž Brodnjak and the other two management board member for another five years at the helm of the bank.