Last Week in Slovenia: 23 - 29 April, 2021

By , 01 May 2021, 11:57 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 23 - 29 April, 2021

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

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FRIDAY, 23 April
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed the government's proposal to raise the public spending ceiling until the end of 2024 in order to mitigate the negative impact of Covid-19. The spending cap for 2021 was raised from EUR 24.9 billion set in November to EUR 25.3 billion for a general government deficit of 8.6% of GDP.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly voted 46 to 42 to reject the government's proposal to merge eight major regulators into two mega agencies (for market and consumers and for financial markets) amid criticism the government wanted to subjugate oversight institutions.
        LJUBLJANA - The ban on travel between regions was lifted and cultural events for up to 10 people were permitted while public assembly was scaled back from a hundred to ten people.
        LJUBLJANA - EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson wrapped up a two-day visit by discussing the priorities of Slovenia's presidency of the EU in a meeting with Foreign Minister Anže Logar, including migration and the Schengen system.
        KOPER - President Borut Pahor and his Greek counterpart Katerina Sakellaropoulou unveiled a bench of friendship in a gesture celebrating ties between Slovenia and Greece in memory of Greek statesman Ioannis Kapodistrias (1776-1831), whose family originated from Koper.
        CELJE - The newspaper Večer reported that the wife of Prime Minister Janez Janša, Urška Bačovnik Janša, had received a death threat targeting her and the couple's children. The letter was sent to the hospital in Celje where she works as a doctor and has been handed over to police.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The Strategic Council for Digitalisation met for its maiden session with Prime Minister Janez Janša saying the government expected it to put forward a plan of the country's digitalisation by 15 September.
        LJUBLJANA - Mercator, Slovenia's largest grocer, passed into majority ownership of Fortenova after the transfer of shares from the troubled Croatian group Agrokor was completed. Fortenova will now publish a takeover bid for the remaining 11.90% shares. Mercator saw its revenue rise by 1.6% to EUR 2.17 billion in 2020, but posted a net loss of EUR 156.7 million, largely due to revaluation of property and impairments to other assets.
        LJUBLJANA - The telco group Telekom Slovenije reported EUR 647.2 million in sales revenue for 2020, down 3% from 2019, and EUR 24.9 million in net profit. Excluding the negative impact of Covid-19, the net profit would have reached EUR 32.8 million.

SATURDAY, 24 April
        LJUBLJANA - Hospitality establishments reopened across the country to serve guests at outdoor tables, from 7am to 7pm, while in three regions with the lowest infection rates guests may also be served indoors if they produce a negative coronavirus status.
        LJUBLJANA - At the start of the week-long May Day school break, Health Minister Janez Poklukar appealed to the population to hold on and bear with coronavirus precautions a while longer, pointing to the Covid-19 vaccination rollout as a way back into normality.
        LJUBLJANA - The government formed a strategic council on social policy as an advisory group to the prime minister, appointing MEP Romana Tomc (SDS/EPP) to head the 15-member council, whose job will be to propose a reform of the social security system.

SUNDAY, 25 April
        LJUBLJANA - The news transpired that Ljerka Belak, a prolific theatre, film and TV actress, died at the age of 72, on 22 April. Excelling in comedy, Belak won the Borštnik Ring, the highest accolade for theatre acting, in 2015.
        LJUBLJANA - Speaker Igor Zorčič told TV Slovenija the National Assembly should be dissolved unless an agreement is reached to allow four unaffiliated MPs, including him, to participate in parliamentary working bodies.
        LIEGE, Belgium - Tadej Pogačar, a rider for UAE Team Emirates, won the Belgian one-day classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege in his sixth win this season and 23rd overall, as fellow Slovenian rider Primož Roglič failed to defend the title.
        LJUBLJANA - Data from the Financial Administration showed gross gaming revenue in Slovenia fell by 42% to EUR 188 million in 2020. Lotteries' revenue dropped by 10% to EUR 61.3 million and the revenue of casinos and gaming parlours was halved to EUR 127 million.

MONDAY, 26 April
        LJUBLJANA - In address to a joint meeting of parliamentary committees on foreign policy and EU affairs, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said the "phantom non-paper" on Western Balkans that some media attributed to Slovenia did not exist and discussion on that damaged Slovenia as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina.
        LJUBLJANA - Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde visited Slovenia for talks with her counterpart Anže Logar, which focused on cooperation in light of the upcoming Slovenian EU presidency and Sweden's current OSCE chairmanship. The pair also discussed relations with Russia and the situation in Ukraine. Linde also met President Borut Pahor.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi addressed a letter to Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič expressing concern because Slovenia had not yet proposed its two candidates to join the European Public Prosecutor's Office, to become operational on 1 June.
        LJUBLJANA - Accommodation facilities across the country were allowed to reopen to accept guests with negative Covid status in up to 30 rooms. The Tourism and Hospitality Chamber urged the government to scale back what it described as "senseless" restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding reported EUR 26 million in net profit for 2020 after posting a net loss of EUR 16.6 million in 2019. The return on equity, at 4.3%, was 1.6 percentage points below the target.
        LJUBLJANA - The STA supervisory board endorsed the annual report for 2020 which shows revenue rose by 1% to EUR 4.28 million despite the aggravated situation due to the Covid epidemic as net profit reached EUR 17,800.
        BOHINJ - Two lynxes, a male and a female from Romania, were released into the wild on Jelovica Plateau as part of efforts to reintroduce the species to north-western Slovenia after a successful rejuvenation of the lynx population in south Slovenia. Two days later, three more specimens were released into the Triglav National Park, as part of LIFE Lynx, an EU-funded project.
TUESDAY, 27 April
        LJUBLJANA - Some 10,000 people by police estimates gathered for an anti-government protest in defiance of the ban on gatherings. The rally was organised by the same leftist activist groups that had been staging weekly anti-government cycling protests since last spring and was timed to coincide with Resistance Day. Responding on Twitter, PM Janez Janša said the "massive transmission of the virus will lead to hundreds of seriously ill and dead in the coming weeks".
        RIBNICA/LJUBLJANA - Slovenia observed Resistance Day, remembering the day 80 years ago when the Liberation Front, an organisation that spearheaded armed resistance against the occupying forces in WWII, was established. The keynote speaker at the main ceremony, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, highlighted the role resistance had played throughout the nation's survival. President Borut Pahor urged Slovenians to respect each other, stressing that what brings the nation together outweighed what tears it apart with regard to recent history.
        LJUBLJANA - Checkpoints on Slovenia's border with Italy and Austria, introduced to help contain the coronavirus epidemic, were removed, while staying in place on Slovenia's other internal Schengen border, with Hungary.
        LJUBLJANA - Amendments to the foreigners act that tighten residence conditions for foreign citizens in Slovenia and introduce the concept of a complex migration emergency took effect. The concept means access to asylum could be restricted.
        LJUBLJANA - Under a decision published in the Official Gazette, Slovenia will open an embassy in South Korea and a consulate in Las Palmas, Spain. Slovenia currently has two consulates in South Korea, in Seoul and Daegu.

        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government adopted the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which after being reviewed by the European Commission will serve as the basis to draw EU recovery funds. The plan proposes for Slovenia to use all EUR 1.8 billion in grants, and EUR 666 million out of the EUR 3.6 billion in available loans where 43.45% of the funds are allocated for green goals and 20.05% for digital goals. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the plan as a huge step forward from a previous version, while the opposition criticised it for lack in green investments.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted the Stability Programme, a document it needs to send to Brussels, providing for expansive fiscal policy due to continued fallout from Covid-19.
        LJUBLJANA - The police announced that a plan by a secondary school student that would have resulted in the first shooting rampage in the country had been foiled in cooperation with the US law enforcement authorities, who had seized firearms and ammunition bought by the suspect on the dark net.
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Janez Poklukar announced the stepping up of Slovenia's Covid-19 vaccination rollout, as some 120,000 doses of vaccines were expected in the country in coming days, or almost half a million in May. He expects vaccination could soon become available to everyone.
        STRASBOURG, France - The latest annual report by the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists raised concern about the Slovenian government's attempts at undermining independent media and stoking harassment of journalists.
        LJUBLJANA - The government gave its go-ahead for Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc, the force commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces, to be promoted to the rank of major general. He will be formally promoted by President Borut Pahor as the commander in chief.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - A memorial marking the 30th anniversary of a key meeting of the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS) which saw its members commit to realising the will expressed in the Slovenian independence referendum, was unveiled at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Janez Janša, and Lojze Peterle and Dimitrij Rupel, the prime minister and foreign minister in the DEMOS government.
        LJUBLJANA - The US Embassy donated two devices for disinfection of hospital premises to Slovenia, to be used in the UKC Maribor and UKC Ljubljana hospitals. The devices are a result of Slovenian know-how.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported that Mirko Krašovec, the former treasurer of the Maribor Archdiocese who was acquitted in 2019 of the charge that he had instigated EU funds misuse over a decade ago, claims almost EUR 700,000 in damages from the state for time spent in prison.

THURSDAY, 29 April
        PARIS, France - Prime Minister Janez Janša met French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the countries' successive presidencies of the Council of the EU, which Macron said would be held in exceptional circumstances due to the Covid crisis. Janša said the countries shared views on most issues within the EU. Bilateral relations and regional issues were also on the agenda, especially in the Western Balkans and the EU's neighbourhood.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Commission announced it had approved, under EU state aid rules, EUR 2.5 million granted by Slovenia to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) in compensation to fulfil its public service mission. Vera Jourova, the Commission vice-president for values and transparency, urged for the funding for the STA to be "unlocked as soon as possible". Prime Minister Janez Janša said the decision referred to the funds that had already been paid out, which STA director Bojan Veselinovič described as a lie. The STA has been without state funding for its public service since the beginning of the year.
        LJUBLJANA - The Statistics Office reported that Slovenia's survey unemployment rate stood at 4.8% in March, down 0.1 of a percentage point from February and up 0.3 of a point year-on-year.
        MARIBOR/NOVA GORICA - Brief balcony performances involving 25 cultural institutions were held in towns across the country to point to the dire situation in the culture sector due to coronavirus restrictions.

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