Last Week in Slovenia: 26 March - 1 April, 2021

By , 03 Apr 2021, 14:38 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 26 March - 1 April, 2021

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What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

FRIDAY, 26 March
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša's appearance in front of the European Parliament's democracy monitoring group was overshadowed by a row with chair Sophie in 't Veld. After In 't Veld refused to play a pre-prepared video during the time allotted for his statement, Janša disconnected from the videoconference. He later accused her of censorship and called on her to resign.
        LJUBLJANA - A meeting between Slovenian and Romanian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Bogdan Lucian Aurescu, confirmed good bilateral relations, with the ministers agreeing that there was still much room for improvement. The meeting also focused on Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency, with Logar presenting its priorities
        LJUBLJANA - MPs passed the government-sponsored changes to the international protection act to prevent asylum law abuse and grant international protection only to those who really need it. The law envisages faster asylum procedures, sanctions for obstructing them and violations of or failure to comply with relevant rules, including public order rules.
        LJUBLJANA - Four MPs, including Speaker Igor Zorčič, formed a new deputy faction in parliament after three of them parted ways with the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) and one left the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) deputy group. Janja Sluga was named chair.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed changes to the budget implementation act under which funding restrictions would not apply to military investments. Currently, the budget implementation act states that defence investments are exempt from restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed amendments to the state prosecution act setting the conditions for hiring European delegated prosecutors and the required level of their proficiency in English.
        LJUBLJANA - MPs unanimously passed a bill on the protection of children in criminal procedures, setting up the country's first Barnahus for children. According to Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič, the house will provide full treatment to children involved in criminal procedures as victims, witnesses or perpetrators.

SATURDAY, 27 March
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left started collecting signatures for a referendum that would block military investments after the parliament adopted changes bypassing the Constitutional Court decision to stay the legislation allowing for the investments, its second attempt to block the investments with a referendum.
        SOCHI, Russia - The Slovenian national football team lost a qualifier for the 2022 2022 FIFA World Cup against Russia 1:2, the first defeat in the qualifying round.

SUNDAY, 28 March
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government endorsed the proposal of the Covid-19 advisory team to impose an 11-day circuit breaker lockdown starting on 1 April in a bid to help hospitals cope with an expected influx in Covid-19 patients following an increase in Slovenia's coronavirus transmission rates.
        TCHAIKOVSKY, Russia - Nika Križnar won the overall Ski Jumping World Cup to secure the first ever Crystal Globe trophy in the discipline in the women's competition for Slovenia.

MONDAY, 29 March
        LJUBLJANA - Toughened restrictions on Slovenia's borders entered into effect in advance of an eleven-day lockdown. There are fewer exemptions and the testing requirement was stepped up. Except for a narrow list of exemptions, travel to all red-listed countries is prohibited.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia supports efforts to implement the Digital Green Certificate system for cross-border travel, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told an informal debate at the invitation of the Austrian tourism minister. He said Slovenia supported a joint approach by the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly formally established a new inquiry commission, which will investigate potential interference by holders of public office in the work of the police since March 2020, when the current government was sworn in. The request came from four opposition parties.
        BIČ - The Slovenian subsidiary of the French car interior components maker Treves announced it will discontinue its Slovenian operations in September, which means 102 people will be left jobless. The news came after its plant was hit by a massive fire in January.
        LJUBLJANA - The UNESCO-sponsored International Research Centre On Artificial Intelligence, which was established in Ljubljana in October 2020, was formally launched at a virtual event. The opening ceremony presented the centre's work so far as well as opportunities for cooperation and use of AI tools.
        LJUBLJANA- Slovenia renewed its nomination of Lipizzaner horse breeding for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List, which it filed last year on behalf of eight countries with this tradition.

TUESDAY, 30 March
        LJUBLJANA - The coalition failed to unseat Igor Zorčič as National Assembly speaker after he quit the Modern Centre Party (SMC) deputy group. 45 voted in favour of the dismissal, one short of the required majority, as the majority of the opposition abstained.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly elected Tina Žumer a vice-governor of the Slovenian central bank and backed the government's proposal to appoint jurist Anka Čadež director of the Securities Market Agency for a six-year term.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed changes to the water act. A provision which would have allowed industrial plants that use hazardous materials to be build on protected water area was scrapped from the bill in the wake of criticism by NGOs, but environmentalists warned that the legislation was still problematic.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislative changes under which cross-border workers will be temporarily eligible for higher unemployment allowances than workers employed in Slovenia since they pay higher unemployment insurance in the countries where they work.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia pledged EUR 70,000 in fresh humanitarian aid to Syria over the next two years at a donor conference for Syria. Foreign Minister Anže Logar said the donation would support the activities of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Syria.
        MARIBOR - Boris Novak stepped down as director general of postal operator Pošta Slovenije by mutual agreement with the new supervisory board. He is succeeded by Tomaž Kokot, the chair of the supervisory board, who will step in as interim director.
        LJUBLJANA - Little Girl, a documentary by Sebastien Lifshitz about an eight-year-old girl trapped in a boy's body, was named the winner of the Amnesty International Slovenija Award at the 23rd Festival of Documentary Film.

        LJUBLJANA - The government gave the Interior Ministry the go-ahead to sign special agreements with EU countries on joint patrols on the Slovenian-Croatian borders. The move comes after the government's proposal of having the army help the police failed to garner sufficient support in parliament.
        WASHINGTON, US - The US Department of State's 2020 Human Rights report on Slovenia singled out attacks on the media and harassment of journalists as one of the key human rights issues. Other significant issues include criminalisation of libel and slander and discrimination against the Roma community.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar hosted North Macedonia's Deputy PM Nikola Dimitrov, who is in charge of EU affairs, with the official visit revolving around priorities of Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency and North Macedonia's efforts to join the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs talked to Margaritis Schinas, the European commissioner for promoting the European way of life, as part of Slovenia's preparations for its EU presidency in the second half of 2021. Hojs presented Slovenia's priorities for the presidency, above all efforts to strengthen the Schengen zone.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia and 12 other countries joined the US-proposed joint statement on the study of Covid-19 origins by the World Health Organization that expresses concern over its delay and calls for more clarity over the pandemic's outbreak, the Foreign Ministry announced.
        LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) called on the government to immediately settle all of its outstanding liabilities to the STA and to comply with its legal obligations to finance the STA public service.
        LJUBLJANA - Anton Balažek stepped down as interim head of the opposition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at the party council meeting. Brigita Čokl will be in charge until the election congress, which is expected in June.
        KRŠKO - The Krško Nuclear Power Station (NEK) shut down for scheduled maintenance as its 31st fuel cycle ended. 1,800 workers from the EU and US will be involved in some 40,000 individual activities.

        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia entered its third lockdown in just over a year in a bid to buy time for vaccination and stem the third wave of the pandemic, which is driven by the highly virulent UK variant. The lockdown is planned until 11 April, with the exception of Easter Sunday, when up to two households will be able to socialise.
        LJUBLJANA - Genetic sequencing showed the UK variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Slovenia. Data from the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food and the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology show over 40% of all samples were not the UK variant.
        LJUBLJANA - Health authorities recommended that Covid-19 vaccination be focused in the next three weeks on older persons. The National Public Health Institute said the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines should be administered to persons aged 65+, and to particularly vulnerable chronic patients regardless of age. The AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended for persons aged 60-64.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar spoke over telephone with Nasser Bourita, the Moroccan minister of foreign affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan expatriates. They called for the strengthening of bilateral relations and exchanged views on current regional issues, including migration.
        LJUBLJANA - The Securities Market Agency closed an insider trading case against Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak concerning purchases of Petrol stock prior to full liberalisation of fuel prices. Vizjak said the agency's did not find irregularities.

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