Ljubljana related

26 Jun 2021, 09:36 AM

STA, 25 June 2021 - The prime ministers of Austria, Croatia and Hungary, the foreign minister of Italy, and the president of the European Council congratulated Slovenia on the 30th anniversary of its independence and wished it a successful stint at the helm of the EU as they addressed the Statehood Day celebration on Friday.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Slovenia was an important neighbour and economic partner of Austria's that cannot be imagined not being part of the European space.

He said Austria was looking forward to Slovenia's EU presidency and thanked Prime Minister Janez Janša for making Western Balkans among the focal points of the presidency.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković wished Slovenia all the best in presiding the EU, pleased that he could count on the know-how, creativity, patriotism and European character of the country.

Wishing that it makes a substantive contribution to the future of Europe, he said Slovenia could "always rely on Croatia as a friend and partner".

Things that separate the two countries are insignificant compared to what they have in common, he said, noting that Slovenia and Croatia understood best what went on in this region thirty years ago.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban likewise emphasised the close ties between the two countries. "Hungarians see you as friends and Christian brothers. Hungarians are happy to be your neighbours," he said.

Orban said that the stronger, wealthier and happier Slovenia is, the better this is for Hungary.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio said Slovenia and Italy had very friendly relations, "in particular because we share the same values, which stem from and converge into our common membership of the EU and NATO."

Di Maio expressed Italy's support for Slovenia's presidency, noting that its second stint at the helm of the EU represented a new era on the path of liberty and democracy that Slovenia entered thirty years ago.

"we have strong confidence in Slovenia's ability to lead the EU in this sensitive time."

European Council President Charles Michel said he was proud and moved to be able to stand next to the Slovenian and EU flag and say happy birthday Slovenia and usher in the Slovenian presidency.

He said the European project was based on the values of democracy, freedom and rule of law, noting that diversity, tolerance and respect were Europe's powers

24 Jun 2021, 13:46 PM

STA, 24 June 2021 - The centre-left opposition called for Slovenia's top officials to protest against Hungary's controversial new anti-LGBTQ law, voicing disappointment over Slovenia's failure to join the 16 EU countries that expressed their concern over the law in a joint statement.

The Social Democrats (SD) voiced their expectation in a press release that Slovenia's top officials will express a "diplomatic protest" over violation of LGBTQ rights in Hungary as Prime Minister Viktor Orban visits Slovenia for the independence ceremony anniversary on Friday.

The party said the Hungarian parliament's decision to ban debate on homosexuality in the education process marked a fast march toward a society where there would be no freedom, equality or respect for diversity. The party illuminated its headquarters in Ljubljana in rainbow colours yesterday as a sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) is disappointed because Slovenia failed to sign on to the joint statement of 16 EU countries expressing concern over the contentious law and developments in Hungary "where the Viktor Orban regime sided with violation of basic human rights and tramples principles of equality".

"This is yet another piece of evidence showing our current government and Prime Minister Janez Janša in particular have been coquetting and cooperating with the Orban regime and even copying his conduct - in the field of media, judiciary and human rights as well as all other basic democratic standards".

Calling the actions unacceptable, the party endorsed the position of the 16 EU countries in a press release, adding that in Slovenia most of the people were committed to human rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Slovenian constitution.

Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan said Slovenia did not join in the statement by the 16 EU countries because as the next country presiding the Council of the EU it would enter the role of a neutral negotiator "whose goal is to seek a balance between various views of EU member countries and look to near their views on common topics under discussion".

As a sign of protest against the Hungarian LGBTQ law, the city council of Munich called for the city's arena to be illuminated in rainbow colours for Wednesday's Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary, a move that was blocked by UEFA, Europe's football governing body, which is headed by Slovenia's Aleksander Čeferin.

The opposition Left criticised the UEFA leadership over the decision. In a press release on Wednesday the party called the decision regrettable, although not surprising "considering the football establishment is also invoking 'non-political' context when it imposes fines for Palestinian flags, pro-Catalan slogans [...]".

"Football is a political matter per se and at the same time a space that masses fill not only with their bodies but also with their persuasions," the party said.

01 Jun 2021, 11:56 AM

STA, 31 May 2021 - The Hungarian OTP Bank Group announced on Monday it had signed a contract to acquire the outright stake in NKBM, Slovenia's second largest bank. The deal is expected to be finalised in the second quarter of next year as the acquirer is waiting approval from relevant regulatory authorities.

Owned by the US fund Apollo (80%) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (20%), NKBM controls 20.5% of the Slovenian market and is the second largest bank in the country.

OTP already owns SKB Banka, which it acquired from France's Societe Generale for EUR 323 million under an agreement signed in 2019.

Combined with NKBM, the new bank would control some 29% of the market measured by total assets to leapfrog the current market leader, NLB.

The price of the NKBM acquisition remains confidential. The Reuters news agency reported in April that it could be worth nearly a billion euro.

OTP was an early favourite to acquire NKBM, though the business newspaper Finance, which first reported today about the deal, says several other bidders expressed interest as well, among them Erste Group from Austria and Belgium's KBC.

NKBM was sold to Apollo and the EBRD in 2016 for EUR 250 million, and NKBM purchased the Abanka bank in mid-2019 for EUR 444 million, when the OTP Bank Group was also in play to buy Abanka.

NKBM and Abanka were among the banks that the state bailed out at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 after difficulties brought about by the economic and financial crisis.

Slovenia promised to the European Commission, in return to approval of state aid, that it will privatise the banks. In the case of Abanka, the condition was also that it is merged with the Banka Celje bank before privatisation.

NKBM ended 2020 with a net profit of EUR 208.9 million, and its total assets stood at EUR 9.17 billion.

20 May 2021, 12:10 PM

STA, 19 May - Slovenia remains in the yellow tier of coronavirus restrictions, but a new exemption has been added for crossing of the border and police checks on the border with Hungary will be lifted, the government decided on Wednesday.

Checkpoints on the border with Hungary will be lifted on 22 May after they were already cancelled on the border with Italy and Austria a few weeks ago.

A new exemption for quarantine-free arrival has been added effective on 22 May as those who have recovered from Covid-19 and have had a single shot of a coronavirus vaccine within eight months after infection will be able to enter the country without restrictions right after they have received the jab.

On arrival, such persons will have to show proof of having had Covid-19 and proof of vaccination.

There are also some changes on the red list of countries which are subject to mandatory quarantine.

Albania has been removed from the list and Sri Lanka added, all of Denmark and Slovakia are now red-listed, and there are changes for individual regions of Austria, Czech Republic, Italy and Norway.

02 May 2021, 08:31 AM

STA, 1 May 2021 - Slovenia and Hungary have agreed to mutually recognise their respective Covid-19 vaccination certificates, the Slovenian Ministry has announced. A vaccination certificate issued in one country will have the same legal effect as the one issued in another, in line with the internal national legal orders.

Slovenia already permits entry to the country from Hungary without mandatory quarantine or proof of a negative coronavirus test if a vaccination certificate is produced.

Under the agreement, Hungary will now do the same for entry from Slovenia, after only certain exceptions have so far been permitted to enter Hungary, the ministry said on Facebook.

In addition to the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), also applied in Hungary are the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and the vaccines of the Chinese producers Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.

09 Mar 2021, 11:05 AM

STA, 8 March 2021 - A cross-border partnership between Slovenia and Hungary has upgraded a network of 344 kilometres of bike paths as part of Iron Curtain Cycling, a EUR 2.3 million project designed to boost cycling tourism in the border area. 

Partner organisations on both sides of the border spent three and a half years setting up the network of paths along EuroVelo 13, a bike route running along the Iron Curtain. The project was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


The route through Slovenia. Screenshot: eurovelo.com

Apart from marking the paths, the initiative also helped developed cycling-friendly services and cross-border cycling packages for tourists, the Murska Sobota public Institute for Culture, Tourism and Sport said in a press release on Monday.

New “Bike Slovenia Green” Tours Take You from Kranjska Gora to Koper, Train Ride Included

A mobile app has been created and cycling maps in four languages, moreover, a number of events have been organised dedicated to related topics, while local tourism establishments and guides have participated in special training and workshops.

The area now boasts 21 cycling centres on both sides of the border, featuring rest stops and bike rental services with total capacity of 59 conventional bikes and 19 electric bikes, as well as rooms for travellers.

You can learn more about the part that runs through Slovenia here

15 Oct 2020, 12:16 PM

STA, 14 October 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša, his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman addressed a ceremony in the north-east of the country on Wednesday launching construction of a power line that will link the three countries.

The 80-kilometre power line between Cirkovce near Ptuj and Pince on the border with Hungary will establish a link between the Hungarian and Slovenian national grids and consequently Croatia's.

The EUR 150 million project has been almost two decades in the making, mainly due to lengthy zoning procedures.

Janša noted that it took ten times as long to prepare the project as it would to build it; ELES, the national grid operator, expects for the 2x400 kV power line to be linked internationally by the end of 2021 with the project to be fully completed with final details by the end of 2022.

"Unfortunately, we have terrible difficulties in Slovenia when it comes to the speed of development projects and their siteing, not so much with construction as with red tape," Janša said, adding that the project should serve as a further encouragement that procedures should never again take that long.

He said the power line was of exceptional importance not only for Slovenia but for a broader region despite the fact that electricity was being taken for granted, just like health before one got sick.

He thanked those responsible in Hungarian and Croatian institutions for making the project possible, praising excellent cooperation between the three countries during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in spring.

Orban labelled today's event as historic, not only because of the energy link between the two countries, but also because of a vital moment between the nations.

He said Central Europe was gaining on significance as the centre of development was moving eastward. "The EU is not just a German-French matter, it's also links between the countries that are gaining on value, which is making them a site of geopolitical games and interests of the big ones," said Orban.

He underscored energy policy and cooperation in the field as an important aspect that boosts the region's position. He predicted a further step in that direction as Slovenia and Hungary agree enhancing their gas pipeline and rail links.

The Croatian foreign minister said the power line construction was in the interests of the whole EU as the bloc sought to strengthen infrastructure links in Central Europe.

He said additional steps would be needed in the future to make the energy system reliable in the long term because the role of the sector would be vital for the EU's economic recovery.

ELES boss Aleksander Mervar said the power line would create the first cross-border link with Hungary's grid, thus increasing the system's reliability.

The project is valued at about EUR 150 million, of which EUR 50 million will come in EU funds.

After the ceremony, Janša and Orban met over working lunch for discussion on bilateral matters, topical EU issues and the coronavirus pandemic.

01 Oct 2020, 10:41 AM

STA, 30 September 2020 - Telekom Slovenije's sale of Planet TV to Hungarian media company TV2 Media has been finalised, the national telco said on Wednesday. The purchase price is EUR 5 million, but Telekom also provided a capital injection for its troubled subsidiary, which produces the eponymous TV channel, via debt to equity conversion before finalising the transaction.

Telekom already signed the sales contract with TV2 Media, owned by Jozsef Vida, whom media associate with the business network of the Hungarian ruling party Fidesz, in July. It said now that Planet TV has not been sold at a loss.

From Thursday, Planet TV will be formally part of TV2 group, which will add three to its portfolio of 14 TV channels.

The company said that new executive director of Planet TV will be Pavel Stantchev, already executive director at TV2. Špela Pirnat, who served as financial director between 2013 and 2016, will join Planet TV as financial director.

Stantchev pledged for the team to work hard to meet expectations of the greatest possible number of viewers, while bringing greater competitiveness and choice needed in the Slovenian market.

Telekom launched Planet TV in 2012 under the then Janez Janša government. It was reported that the telecoms incumbent had been looking for a strategic partner which would buy a 49% share in the TV production company already at the beginning of January, only to change its mind later on.

According to the newspaper Delo, Planet TV has cost Telekom Slovenije EUR 80 million in the form of capital injections, advertisements, loans and other services since it was launched in September 2012, and has operated in the red.

The latest blow was the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce ordering Telekom last year to pay a EUR 23 million buyout to Antenna Group, the Greek partner who wanted out of the joint venture.

The news portal Necenzurirano.si has reported about unofficial plans to merge Planet TV and Nova24TV, the news portal and website associated with Janša's ruling Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and also in the ownership of Hungarian individuals reportedly close to Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban.

Meanwhile, Telekom moreover started this month with procedures to sell its subsidiary TS Media, which owns the news portal Siol, as well as the web portals Najdi.si in Bizi.si.

28 Sep 2020, 10:27 AM

STA, 28 September 2020 - Passengers from red or orange-listed countries will be able to avoid quarantine in Slovenia as of Monday if they present a negative coronavirus test no older than 48 hours. Travellers from orange countries in the EU or Schengen will avoid quarantine altogether.

This was decided by the government at the weekend, when it also renamed the yellow list of countries the orange list and green-listed Serbia and Poland. These changes will come into effect on Tuesday.

Apart from Serbia and Poland, Slovenia's green list from Tuesday also includes Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland among EU member states, as well as Australia, South Korea, New Zealand and Uruguay.

Italy was moved from green list to orange. Parts of Croatia along the border with Slovenia were moved to orange from red, while the rest of the country remains red-listed.

Three states in Austria (Vienna, Vorarlberg and Tirol) and two regions in Hungary (Budapest and Gyor-Moson-Sopron), as well as parts of several other EU countries and Switzerland, were red-listed. From Tuesday, the red list will include 16 members of the EU and the Schengen zone, and 114 third countries.

Residents of green countries do not have to go into quarantine when entering Slovenia and under the latest changes, the same applies to anybody who had spent at least a fortnight in the green country from which they are entering Slovenia.

Many of the exemptions to travel restrictions remain in place, allowing several groups of people to avoid quarantine even when entering Slovenia from an orange or red-listed country without a negative test.

This remains the case for workers commuting across the border, hauliers, diplomats, foreign delegations, foreign security services employees, members of the Slovenian armed and police forces, as well as people travelling for urgent personal or business matters, and people who own property in a neighbouring country.

Moreover, persons who test negative after having been ordered to quarantine will be allowed to cut short their quarantine.

The changes will be explained in more detail at a press conference on Monday.

The latest statistics on coronavirus and Slovenia, and the latest police news on red, green and yellow list countries. All our stories on coronavirus and SloveniaCan I transit Slovenia? Find out from the police...

24 Sep 2020, 16:45 PM

STA, 24 September 2020 - Slovenia recorded 122 new coronavirus infections in 2,848 tests on Wednesday. While two patients died, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital remained stable, fresh government data show.

The number of patients in hospital dropped by two to 63, but 13 were in intensive care, three more than the day before.

Two persons with Covid-19 died, increasing the death toll since the start of the epidemic to 145.

Slovenia now has 1,427 active cases out of a total of 4,816 cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic.

New infections were confirmed in 53 municipalities yesterday. Ljubljana recorded 24 new infections, followed by Maribor, Domžale and Črna na Koroškem with eight, and Kranj, Kamnik, Slovenska Bistrica, Pivka and Litija with four cases each.

In the last two weeks, Slovenia recorded 68.4 infections per 100,000 people. 2,526 people are currently quarantined.

Nuška Čakš Jager from the National Institute of Public Heath said most of the infections were community transmissions, while the share of imported cases has been decreasing. Recent imported cases came from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Austria.

Since the virus is spreading throughout Europe, government Covid-19 spokesperson Jelko Kacin said today that in the absence of an EU agreement regarding the crossing of the border, the Slovenian government would have to decide on potential changes to its list of epidemiologically safe countries.

He said he expected Austria and Hungary, which have seen a surge in new infections, could be removed from the list of safe countries.

In Slovenia, the number of infections has been rising among medical staff and in care homes. Currently more women than men are infected and most of the cases are aged between 45 and 54.

Two members of primary school staff and three kindergarten teachers tested positive along with five primary school students, three high school students and two kindergarten children.

One care home resident and one employee tested positive on Wednesday. Infections were also confirmed in three employees and one resident of a centre for persons with disabilities. On Tuesday, the CUDV centre for persons with disabilities in Črna na Koroškem was mentioned as a new hotspot.

A care home in Rogaška Slatina had one resident test positive on Wednesday and one patient receiving palliative care died during the night, the head of the home, Kristina Kampuš, told the STA.

The head of the Danica Vogrinec care home in Maribor, Marko Slavič, told the press today that the institution still had 40 infected residents, 33 of whom have only mild symptoms. Three have been transferred to the hospital, while four of the infected residents have died.

But Slavič said that in the last five years, 50.4 people died on average at the home between January and September. This year 48 people died. "So Covid did not make this situation worse," he said.

No additional infections were confirmed after yesterday's testing, so Slavič thinks the situation is under control.

Currently, 22 members of the home's staff are quarantined. None of them have any health problems and some of the infected have had no symptoms.

The latest statistics on coronavirus and Slovenia, and the latest police news on red, green and yellow list countries. All our stories on coronavirus and SloveniaCan I transit Slovenia? Find out from the police...

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