Last Week in Slovenia: 11 - 17 December, 2020

By , 19 Dec 2020, 14:27 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 11 - 17 December, 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, 11 December
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša labelled the compromise reached by EU leaders over the recovery package a typical European solution, a win-win situation with no absolute winners or losers. The winner is the EU since an opportunity for actually implementing the package as of 1 January 2021 was unlocked, he said.
        VATICAN CITY, Vatican - A Slovenian delegation was received by Pope Francis, and Foreign Minister Anže Logar held talks with Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for relations with states within the Holy See's Secretariat of State, before a 30-metre spruce from Slovenia came aglow with Christmas lights in St Peter's Square. Logar said the tree was Slovenia's thank-you to the Holy See for its support before and after Slovenia declared independence nearly 30 years ago.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor reiterated his stance that EU prospects for the Western Balkans are the main geopolitical issue bearing on European stability, as he addressed the To Be Secure forum. His wish is for the entire region to join the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The Government Communication Office (UKOM) responded to a letter by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović concerning the funding of the STA. UKOM head Uroš Urbanija repeated the argument that the STA was obligated to provide UKOM with all the requested documents.
        LJUBLJANA - Rating agency Standard & Poor's affirmed Slovenia's AA- rating with a stable outlook. The step acknowledges that Slovenia "remains a stable country in the long run despite the difficult situation due to Covid-19", the Finance Ministry said.
        LJUBLJANA/NOVO MESTO - Ljubljana and Novo Mesto police said they had launched an investigation into posters and graffiti which appeared in both cities and labelled some medical experts exposed during the coronavirus epidemic "murderers of the Slovenian nation".

SATURDAY, 12 December
        SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - President Borut Pahor called on the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina to focus on the country's economic and social challenges together, as he addressed by video link a ceremony in Sarajevo marking the 25th anniversary of the Dayton agreement, which ended the war in the country.
        PLANICA - Germany's Karl Geiger won the individual event of the Planica Ski Flying World Championship with a total of 877.2 points after a nail-biting finish in which the second-placed Halvor Egner Granerud of Norway fell behind by only half a point after four rounds of jumping.

SUNDAY, 13 December
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to temporarily ease some restrictions starting on 15 December. Under new rules, public transportation restarted nationwide. Hair salons, flower shops, car washes and dry cleaners reopened. In four regions with the best epidemiological situation - Central Slovenia, Goriška, Obalno-Kraška and Gorenjska - footwear, apparel and sports equipment shops as well as car dealerships opened.
        CLEVELAND, US - The Slovenian Consulate General in Cleveland announced that Edward Gobetz, an esteemed Slovenian American philosopher, sociologist and anthropologist, a professor emeritus at Kent State University, had died, aged 94, of Covid-19 complications.
        VAL D'ISERE, France - Martin Čater won the first World Cup downhill of the season in what is the first podium finish for the 27-year-old Slovenian, who entered the race with the start number 41.
        PLANICA - Norway won the team event at the Ski Flying World Championships at Slovenia's Planica, overtaking Germany in the last round as Halvor Egner Granerud performed better than Karl Geiger, who beat the Norwegian on Saturday in the individual event. Slovenia bounced back from the turmoil in their ranks by finishing fourth.
        ROGAŠKA SLATINA - Voters in the municipality of Rogaška Slatina confirmed plans by the local government to erect the tallest observation tower in Slovenia. At a cost of over two million euro, the 106-metre tower is designed to become one of the landmarks in a community best known for spa tourism.

MONDAY, 14 December
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša told parliament that it had been Italy and Croatia's "good will" to invite Slovenia for talks on their plans to declare their exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic Sea. The two countries have the right to declare the zones and it is solely because of "our reputation".???
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša told the MPs in parliament Slovenia was in for a "very demanding fight with the last third of the Covid-19 epidemic", after which time would come to eliminate the consequences. He said the EU's recent agreement on the EUR 1.8 trillion recovery package "makes the light at the end of the tunnel brighter".
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said after an EU ministerial that the positions of EU member states on solidarity in the new migration pact remained different. Slovenia remains against obligatory relocation, just like nine other members states.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar reiterated Slovenia's support for giving cooperation between the EU and Latin American and the Caribbean a fresh impetus as he took part in an informal EU-LAC meeting. He said the Covid-19 pandemic showed the importance of close cooperation.
        LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption closed its investigation into the case of Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak's purchase of Petrol shares ahead of the full liberalisation of fuel prices after concluding that this is not within its purview. It handed the case over to the Securities Market Agency.
        LJUBLJANA - The suspension of STA financing has led to criminal charges filed by both sides. The STA's in-house trade union reported Government Communication Office (UKOM) head Uroš Urbanija to the prosecution over abuse of office. Urbanija filed charges against STA director Bojan Veselinovič, former UKOM head Kristina Plavšak Krajnc and four STA supervisors. Prime Minister Janez Janša told parliament the government was not interfering in the STA.

TUESDAY, 15 December
        LJUBLJANA, - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption launched multiple probes into purchases of personal protective equipment in spring. Eight persons are under investigation, including Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and Ivan Gale, the former Commodity Reserves Agency employee who first made allegations of irregularities. Počivalšek said he would fully cooperate in the investigation to clear his name.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - PM Janez Janša met ambassadors of EU member states accredited to Slovenia, an event organised by the German EU presidency. He answered questions from ambassadors concerning the most recent EU summit, the main challenges for next year and Slovenia's preparations for its EU presidency in the second half of 2021.
        THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Foreign Minister Anže Logar met his counterpart Stefan Blok as part of his working visit to the Netherlands to discuss cooperation, Slovenia's EU presidency and topical issues. Logar also held separate meetings with the heads of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the International Criminal Court.
        POSTOJNA - Ahead of a two-day ministerial of the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) in Postojna, Defence Minister Matej Tonin met his Croatian counterpart Mario Banožić and Austria's Klaudia Tanner. The talks focused on bilateral cooperation in the fields of military and defence and on cooperation within the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - Banka Slovenije, Slovenia's central bank, expects the economy to contract by 7.6% this year before growing at a rate of 3.1% in 2021, a sharp downgrade from its forecast in June, when it projected a 6.5% contraction for this year and growth of 4.9% for 2021. The forecast hinges on the successful rollout of coronavirus vaccines.
        LJUBLJANA - Public and private investors, including the government, signed a memorandum to cooperate in the construction of a EUR 387 million passenger terminal in Slovenia's capital. The project comprises a new railway station, along with appertaining track infrastructure and platforms, a coach station with a multi-storey car park and a commercial hub.
        LJUBLJANA - Bojana Beović, the infectious disease specialist who heads the group advising the government on Covid-19, was elected head of the Medical Chamber. Out of the 5,895 ballots cast by members in a runoff, she won 3,154 against Tanja Petkovič, the head of the chamber's section of care home doctors.

WEDNESDAY, 16 December
        STRASBOURG, France - The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it does not have jurisdiction to hear a case brought by Slovenia against Croatia over debt owed to Ljubljanska Banka (LB) by Croatian companies, because LB lacks non-governmental status.
        POSTOJNA - The experiences of individual armies in helping to fight the Covid-19 epidemic and the strengthening of cooperation with Western Balkan countries were in the focus of a two-day meeting of the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC). Slovenian Defence Minister Matej Tonin and his Hungarian counterpart Tibor Benko expressed support for the long-term stability of the region.
        LJUBLJANA - Railways operator Slovenske Železnice signed a strategic logistics and cargo partnership with EP Holding. The Czech holding will become the owner of a 49% stake of Slovenske Železnice's cargo division SŽ-Tovorni Promet. The partnership is pending regulatory approval.
        LJUBLJANA - Atlantic Droga Kolinska, Belinka Perkemija, TKK and iSystem Labs were honoured as best foreign investors for their excellent business performance and contribution to the development of the Slovenian economy. The awards are given out annually by the SPIRIT investment promotion agency and the economy ministry.
        LJUBLJANA - Cross-country skier Anamarija Lampič, cyclist Primož Roglič and the men's handball team are this year's crème de la crème of Slovenian sports as selected by the Association of Sports Journalists. Both the athletes and the team received the top sports awards at the 2020 Athlete of the Year ceremony.

THURSDAY, 17 December
        LJUBLJANA - The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) left the government coalition with immediate effect and its top decision-making body backed party leader Karl Erjavec as a candidate for prime minister-designate. The move brings the informal Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL) a step closer to a no-confidence vote in the Janez Janša government, but it remains several votes short of a majority.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Fully upholding the European Commission's position, the European Court of Justice ruled that Slovenia breached the inviolability of ECB archives in a 2016 police search of archives at the country's central bank that was part of an investigation into the 2013 bank bailout. The court's Grand Chamber also found Slovenia in breach of the obligation of sincere cooperation with the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The government formally extended the state of coronavirus epidemic by 30 days beginning on 18 December. However, more shops, including those selling technical goods, tree and plant nurseries as well as shops with goods for installation, maintenance and repair services will reopen for five days, from 19 to 23 December. In the four regions with the lowest number of cases, additional shops will be allowed to open.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor, the supreme commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF), promoted Chief of the General Staff Robert Glavaš to the rank of major general. The promotion is according to Pahor a result of Glavaš's excellent military career and his results at all SAF levels as well as of the experiences he gained in missions abroad and in NATO structures.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed in a 43:36 vote a bill amending the criminal procedure act. Based on the freedom of information act, the changes make it possible for anyone to access prosecution or court records in criminal procedures if there are no reservations for such access.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed a reform bill on motor vehicles tax as a result of which most car and motorbike buyers will pay less tax, especially buyers of more powerful vehicles. The levy will depend on emissions.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the tonnage tax act extending by another ten years a special regulation under which shipping companies pay an alternative form of corporate income tax.
        LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije signed a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) worth up to EUR 100 million for the expansion of its fibre optic network through 2023. The EIB funds will allow it to finance the continued expansion and upgrade of its network with gigabit speeds, both in urban centres and rural areas.

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