Last Week in Slovenia: 30 April - 6 May, 2021

By , 08 May 2021, 12:53 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 30 April - 6 May, 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, 30 April
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar received his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi, with the pair calling for enhancing cooperation between the countries in business and politics. They also exchanged views on the Western Balkans and the Indo-Pacific region. Motegi met President Borut Pahor and PM Janez Janša as well.
        MARIBOR - President Borut Pahor said in an interview with the newspaper Večer that government officials had indeed created the impression that press freedom or the independence of journalists was at risk. Still, he finds assessments that democracy is being undermined under this government too radical.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders urged Slovenia's Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič to speed up the appointment of European delegated prosecutors. The European Public Prosecutor's Office is set to be launched on 1 June and the only other participating country running behind is Finland.
        NOVA GORICA - Trade unions from the Slovenian-Italian border area staged an annual get-together on the eve of Labour Day, this year drawing attention to the problems faced by the people commuting for work across the border and calling for easing of border-crossing restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - Several hundred protesters hit the streets on their bicycles, stopping by at the headquarters of the STA on their way to express support before lighting a bonfire in the square in front of the parliament building.
        LJUBLJANA - State budget revenue in the first quarter of the year amounted to EUR 2.4 billion, up 1% year-on-year, while expenditure rose by 37% to almost EUR 3.68 billion for a deficit of nearly EUR 1.27 billion, up from EUR 304.9 million in the same period last year.
        BRUSSELS - The European Commission confirmed receipt of Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen said the plan was "oriented towards the future: green and digital transition; smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; health and welfare of all".
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia and Hungary agreed to mutually recognise their respective Covid-19 vaccination certificates. A vaccination certificate issued in one country will have the same legal effect as the one issued in the other.
        LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana will be connected to Brussels with regular flights during Slovenia's presidency of the EU Council in the second half of the year. The routes will be operated by carriers Brussels Airlines and Wizzair, Slovenia's permanent representation in Brussels said.

        LJUBLJANA - The vaccination campaign against Covid-19 reached two important milestones as more than 20% of the population had received one shot and more than 10% had been fully vaccinated.

        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar expressed Slovenia's full support for the fight for democracy in Belarus as he hosted Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. He said Slovenia as the presiding EU country in the second half of the year would put democratisation and discussion about Belarus high on the agenda. Tsikhanouskaya also met Prime Minister Janez Janša, President Borut Pahor and Speaker Igor Zorčič.
        LJUBLJANA - A month-long fundraising campaign kicked off on World Press Freedom Day in a bid to secure funding for the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), which has not received budget funds for the performance of public service for four months. Called "Za obSTAnek", the campaign aims to raise two million euros for the agency via small SMS donations and from potential larger donors.
        LJUBLJANA - The prosecution rejected criminal complaints filed last year against Defence Minister Matej Tonin and Žan Mahnič, the state secretary for national security in the prime minister's office, Nova24TV reported. The complaints had been filed against Tonin in relation to the disclosure of information about the Slovenia-Croatia border arbitration agreement, and against both Tonin and Mahnič over alleged irregularities in the Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services.
        LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency stopped a major anti-trust procedure against Telekom Slovenije. The proceedings, related to alleged unfair pricing of a special monthly plan for youths between 2008 and 2010, had been stopped after the watchdog "did not manage to obtain evidence on the existence of a predatory exclusionary strategy".
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's positions on issues relevant to EU-Turkey relations and its EU presidency priorities topped the agenda aside from bilateral relations as FM Anže Logar hosted his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. They dedicated a great part of their meeting to plans to boost bilateral cooperation, in particular direct investment, and to balance bilateral goods trade.
        LJUBLJANA - A proposal to reshuffle parliamentary working bodies to accommodate four unaffiliated MPs was rejected for the third time. The vote prompted the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) to announce they would boycott the parliament's work with the exception of major votes such as the forthcoming impeachment motion.
        LJUBLJANA - The SVIZ trade union of teachers launched a campaign to collect signatures among teachers to call on Education Minister Simona Kustec to resign, arguing poor management of the ministry. Kustec said the government had taken a number of measures to accommodate schools' needs.
        LJUBLJANA - Several NGOs that bring together conservative and liberal intellectuals sent a letter to European media to alert of what they call a misrepresentation on the state of press freedom in Slovenia, urging them to stop "one-sided propaganda" and to get informed on the situation from all world-view groups ahead of Slovenia's EU presidency.
        LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Committee endorsed amendments to the act on road transport that create the legal basis for transportation platforms such as Uber or Lyft, changes that the government argues will facilitate the digitalisation of the transport sector.

        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted amendments to three tax laws in a bid to reduce labour taxation and help businesses and individuals in the post-Covid recovery, including by increasing the general personal income allowance, reducing tax on capital and reducing red tape. While income tax changes alone are expected to reduce annual tax receipts by EUR 276 million, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said higher economic growth would offset the shortfall.
        PODGORICA, Montenegro -President Borut Pahor said after meeting his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Đukanović that a new momentum needed to be provided for the process of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, as there was a certain standstill.
        LJUBLJANA - Four MEPs from Slovenia, Milan Brglez, Franc Bogovič, Tanja Fajon and Ljudmila Novak, expressed their concern over the psychosocial situation and the general social atmosphere in Slovenia in a letter addressed to President Borut Pahor. They urged him to use his authority to calm down "the passions and create a social atmosphere of dialogue, respectful expressing of disagreement and criticism". Pahor responded by calling for moderation in politics.
        LJUBLJANA - The Justice Committee unanimously adopted amendments to the penal code redefining sexual violence. Judges, prosecutors and lawyers opposed the changes, saying there was nothing wrong with the existing legislation. But MPs sided with the organisations which work with victims of sex crimes.
        LJUBLJANA - New rules on border crossing involving the recognition of PCR tests done in Serbia and Turkey entered into effect. There were also some changes on the red list of countries from which arrivals must quarantine, with Malta and Portugal removed from the list, and Djibouti added.
        DEKANI - Construction of currently the largest infrastructure project in the country was symbolically launched as ground was broken on the 27-km Divača-Koper rail track and the final contract to build one of its two sections, from Divača to Črni Kal, was signed. The project is valued at just below EUR 1 billion and will be built by a consortium led by the Slovenian company Kolektor CPG.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of experts commissioned by the central bank to draw up solutions for junior bondholders and shareholders wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout proposed a reimbursement scheme as the most suitable solution, where the state would take on the financial burden. The MDS association of small shareholders welcomed the solution, which would involve an out-of court settlement.
        LJUBLJANA - Tibor Šimonka, a senior vice-president of the steel group SIJ, was elected new chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) for the next two years. Šimonka identified green transition, support for digitalisation, innovation, research and development as his main priorities.

        LJUBLJANA - MPs from the coalition parties tabled a motion in a renewed attempt to dismiss Speaker Igor Zorčič after he quit the coalition to join a group of unaffiliated MPs in late March. The motion was signed by 38 coalition MPs, 46 are needed to oust him.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša announced that all adults under 50 will start to get vaccinated on 10 May. "We will have enough vaccine for everyone by summer," he said.
        TIRANA - President Borut Pahor met his Albanian counterpart Ilir Meta as part of a whistle-stop tour of the region in preparation for the 17 May regional summit in Slovenia. In a renewed call for EU enlargement to the Western Balkans he said EU membership would make country borders less important and eliminate the need to change them.
        WARSAW, Poland - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs discussed migration issues as he met his Polish counterpart Mariusz Kaminski as part of Slovenia's preparations for the upcoming EU presidency. His ministry said that Slovenia and Poland advocate "elimination of the root causes of migration, and a greater role of the external dimension of migrations, foremost sending migrants back more effectively".
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission noted the Slovenian government's duty under law to secure suitable funding for the STA in response to the agency's questions about the fundraising campaign for the STA, calling for swift solutions to unblock the funding and preserve the agency's independence.
        LJUBLJANA - Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik and Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković signed an agreement that will see the government allocate EUR 13.7 million for 29 projects in the Ljubljana area that are of importance to the state until 2023.

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