Last Week in Slovenia: 13 - 19 November, 2020

By , 22 Nov 2020, 11:45 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 13 - 19 November, 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, 13 November
        LJUBLJANA - New restrictions concerning public gatherings and border crossing entered into force as part of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus. All gatherings were banned, unless people who gather are family or members of the same household. While all events were banned, couples are able to wed with a special permission from the relevant ministry, although without a reception.
        LJUBLJANA - The government debated a draft national Covid-19 vaccination programme, which will form the basis for a vaccination strategy once a vaccine is available. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar indicated Slovenia might get the first doses of the vaccine in December.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs highlighted as part of an EU ministerial on the proposed migration pact a "very, very problematic grey zone" related to Slovenia's border with Croatia, the external Schengen border but not also the EU's external border. It is not clear if Slovenia will still be able to return migrants to Croatia, he said.
        LJUBLJANA - The government relieved Tone Kajzer of his duties as Foreign Ministry state secretary as he is leaving for Washington to serve as Slovenia's ambassador to the US. He will succeed Stanislav Vidovič, who was appointed Slovenia's new ambassador to Ireland.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor said the right balance should be found between technological progress and broader social development as he attended a Paris Peace Forum debate on risks posed by unethical use of artificial intelligence and its role in fighting the coronavirus and the climate change.
        LJUBLJANA - The government submitted to the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee an initiative for a cooperation agreement between Slovenia and Hungary in the construction and management of the new rail track to the port of Koper.
        LJUBLJANA - The council of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) decided that its election congress will be held between 20 November and 5 December and will see the junior coalition party's new president selected through ballots cast by mail. Karl Erjavec and Srečko Felix Krope are vying for the top post.
        LJUBLJANA - Modern Centre Party (SMC) leader Zdravko Počivalšek met economist Jože P. Damijan only to turn down his offer to form an alternative government to Janez Janša's. The party said after the meeting that it wanted to dispel any doubts and speculation about its potential exit from the current government.
        LJUBLJANA - The government's macroeconomic forecaster IMAD said that sentiment indicators for September and October showed economic recovery is uncertain as the Covid-19 epidemic is worsening. The country's economy is losing momentum, as it saw a drop in business sentiment in October following a several-month improvement.
        LJUBLJANA - Insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav reported consolidated gross written premium of EUR 960.9 million for the first nine months of the year, a 6% year-on-year increase. Net profit declined by 14% to EUR 50.8 million. The combined ratio, an insurance industry benchmark, stood at 91.4%, which the company says is favourable.
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed the appointment of Boštjan Zalar as the new head of the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS), Slovenia's leading science and research institute. Zalar will start his five-year term on 1 December.
        LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed the head of the Slovenian Book Agency, Renata Zamida, who started her five-year term on 1 January 2018. Zamida, who has been on the chopping block since January amidst allegations of imprudent spending, told the STA the move was illegitimate.

SATURDAY, 14 November
        LJUBLJANA - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj told the parliamentary Finance Committee the government did not plan to raise any taxes in 2021 or introduce new levies, such as real estate tax. Some taxes would even be cut, starting with the tax on vehicles.
        LJUBLJANA - The SOVA intelligence agency denied statements by opposition Left MP Miha Kordiš that the police and political leadership had known what kind of a protest had been in the making for 5 November and could have prevented the escalation of violence. SOVA said this interpretation was false and inaccurate.
        BLED/RADOVLJICA - Legendary Slovenian inventor Peter Florjančič was reported dead at the age of 101. He patented about 400 inventions, of which 43 reached the production phase. Some of his most popular inventions include plastic slide frames, a perfume atomiser and a plastic injection molding machine.

SUNDAY, 15 November
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor told the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija there was still time for the government to congratulate US president-elect Joe Biden, as he commented on PM Janez Janša's tweets on the US election.
        LJUBLJANA - The Democrats' (SDS) deputy group said its leader Danijel Krivec had tested positive for coronavirus, and has been self-isolating since 11 November. Showing no Covid-19 symptoms, he feels well and will remain in quarantine, the ruling party added.

MONDAY, 16 November
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to extend the Covid-19 epidemic declared as of 18 October for 30 days by another 30 days - until 17 December, as stricter lockdown measures, including the closure of non-essential shops and stoppage of public transport, kicked in. Government spokesman Jelko Kacin said the latest statistics showed the virus was still spreading too fast.
        LJUBLJANA - The State Attorney's Office said Slovenia would not challenge the decision of the EU General Court to dismiss the country's appeal to annul the European Commission delegated regulation of May 2017 that allows Croatian wine producers to use Teran, the name of a red wine protected by Slovenia, on their wine labels.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša said during questions' time in parliament he would be happy to congratulate whoever is elected US president, while adding that the election in the US was not yet over, which happened either when a side conceded a defeat or the official results were proclaimed.
        LJUBLJANA - Miro Cerar, a former prime minister and foreign minister, told the magazine Reporter he expected a more balanced US foreign policy and a return to multilateralism under Joseph Biden. He argued PM Janez Janša's tweets on the US election hurt Slovenia. "We probably will not even notice it... They simply ignore you."
        LJUBLJANA - More than half of Slovenians do not intend (26%) or are not likely (31%) to get vaccinated when a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available in Slovenia because of their mistrust of the vaccine, a Valicon survey showed, indicating people were more likely to get a Covid-19 jab if they were at a greater risk of infection.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced in parliament support for the relaxing of rules on the growing of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes, saying the changes being drawn up by the Agriculture Ministry were expected to be confirmed in the spring.
        LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - The approval rating of the government and the majority of the coalition parties declined in the latest Vox Populi poll, while the opposition remained stagnant as the share of undecided voters ticked up. Slightly under 30% of respondents assessed the government's work in November as successful compared to 41% in October.

TUESDAY, 17 November
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša indicated that some of the restrictive measures may remain in place until Christmas, but he was hopeful they will not have to be as strict. "It is already certain...immunisation will not make enough of a difference by the end of the year to allow us to relax all measures," he said in an interview for Planet TV.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša rejected during a budget debate in parliament reports that a blockade by Poland and Hungary had occurred with respect to the new EU budget and Covid recovery fund. The situation is not what the media are portraying it to be, he added.
        LJUBLJANA - The US Embassy said Slovenia was not currently a part of the US's troop reassignment, after PM Janez Janša had indicated that Slovenia was open to hosting a US rotation unit. "US Forces welcome every opportunity to train in Slovenia...but the country is not part of the current force posture realignment at this time," the embassy said.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar said a free-trade agreement between the EU and US should be concluded as soon as possible as he discussed the future of transatlantic relations with his Swedish and Lithuanian counterparts in an online ministerial.
        LJUBLJANA - Nova24TV reported that the Supreme Court had annulled a ruling upholding the dismissal of a damages claim by the now ruling Democratic Party (SDS) against the state over the Patria defence corruption trial, returning the case to the Maribor Higher Court for a retrial.
        LJUBLJANA - In the latest development following the May dismissal of Darko Muženič as the head of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Labour Court altered its original ruling to assert that Muženič remains the NBI head and that the appointment procedure for his successor must be halted, several media reported.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Catholic Church updated its guidelines for the protection of minors and vulnerable individuals against sexual abuse, explicitly ordering all who work for the Church, clergy and lay volunteers, to report any suspicion of sexual abuse to the authorities.

WEDNESDAY, 18 November
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša draw widespread criticism from the ranks of coalition and opposition after addressing a letter to EU leaders in which he called for a return to the July EU summit agreement on the next financial budget, which is, he said, now undermined by a recent deal between the EU Council and Parliament tying the rule of law to the EU funds eligibility. He argued that "numerous media and some political groups in the European Parliament are openly threatening to use the instrument wrongly called 'the rule of law' in order to discipline individual EU Member States." The European Commission would not comment on the letter.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed the budgets for 2021 and 2022, which bring expenditure of EUR 13.5 billion and EUR 12.6 billion, respectively, and record investments amid the coronavirus pandemic. The opposition expressed concern over how increasing expenditure would be financed and the debt, raised to fund stimulus measures, repaid even if the deficit is to fall gradually.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša received Mathias Cormann, who until recently served as Australia's finance minister and is bidding to be the next secretary general of the OECD. They discussed the organisation's role and mission in the global situation and exchanged experience in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
        PRAGUE, Czechia - FM Anže Logar called for a rethink on how to make the EU better, stronger and more resilient, as he took part in the Prague European Summit. He argued the EU should assume a more decisive role in the global political arena while facing challenges such as changed international economic relations and the changing global security environment.
        LJUBLJANA/HOČE - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec presented a new vision for the Maribor airport, which has been idle for some time. He told MPs that he had been working with local mayors on plans to turn it into a smart hub by the end of the year.
        LJUBLJANA - The Celje District Court approved an agreement on financial restructuring for the heavily indebted retail group Tuš. Thus the Alfi fund, which owns more than 80% of all claims to the group, is gradually taking over the managing of the Celje-based group, which has 100 stores with more than 3,100 employees.

THURSDAY, 19 November
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row and further 45 patients with Covid-19 died, bringing the death toll to 964. Government spokesman Jelko Kacin said 2,064 of the 6,806 Sars-CoV-2 tests performed a day earlier came back positive, which means as many as 30.33%, up almost four percentage points from the day before. The situation in hospitals improved slightly.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar stressed the importance of strengthening transatlantic relations across the board as he attended a session of the EU's Foreign Affairs Council. He said cooperation needed to be strengthened in areas including security, critical infrastructure and addressing hybrid and cyber threats.
        LJUBLJANA - National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič argued for an efficient return of migrants not eligible for asylum and for tackling the causes of illegal migration as he addressed a virtual inter-parliamentary conference on migration and asylum in Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed a reform bill on motor vehicles tax as a result of which most car and motorbike buyers will pay less tax. The levy will depend mostly on emissions, while plug-in vehicles will not be taxed. The Finance Ministry expects the tax burden on buyers to be reduced by more than 65% on average
        LJUBLJANA - The group around the drug maker Krka generated EUR 1.16 billion in sales revenue in the first nine months of the year, which is 6% more than in the same period last year. Net profit was up by 22% to EUR 210.14 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed acting director of the national Statistics Office Tomaž Smrekar for a full five-year term. He succeeds Bojan Nastav, who was appointed by the previous government in August 2019 and dismissed by the current government this May.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food said it was planning to check samples from previous seasons to see whether the novel coronavirus may have circulated in Slovenia before the first infection was confirmed on 4 March this year.
        LJUBLJANA - A Statistics Office study showed that the services sector has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 epidemic. In Slovenia, the biggest monthly drop in services income was recorded in April, a 18.4% decrease.
        LJUBLJANA - The spouses Iza and Samo Login remain the wealthiest Slovenia, topping the list of the Manager magazine for the seventh year running. The total assets of the 100 wealthiest Slovenians amount to an estimated EUR 5.8 billion, EUR 147 million more than last year. The threshold for the list fell by 6% to EUR 20.9 million.


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