Ljubljana related

08 Aug 2020, 12:15 PM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 31 July
        LJUBLJANA - Bulgaria, Romania, the Bahamas, India and five Spanish administrative units were added to Slovenia's red list of countries from which arrival entails a mandatory two-week quarantine due to coronavirus. Spain, Belgium, Australia, Morocco, Andorra and Canada were removed from the green list of safe countries, and downgraded to yellow.
        LJUBLJANA - The prime minister's office said a staffer at the office had tested positive for coronavirus. He has been on leave for a week and has not been in direct contact with PM Janez Janša.
        LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec found herself in the spotlight because of media reports that the Izola municipality paid for her hotel accommodation during her official trip to the seaside town in June with a hotel invoice suggesting she was there with her sons, a charge the minister denied.
        LJUBLJANA - Mladina reported a new asylum regime had been implemented since June at some police stations on the border with Croatia, which it said had no basis in legislation. It said the regime restricted the movement of asylum seekers and placed them in the centre for aliens in Postojna, where they lived in inhumane conditions. NGOs expressed concern, while the Interior Ministry and the police rejected the accusations.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian state budget recorded a EUR 1.92 billion deficit in the first six months of the year, mostly on the account of a considerable drop in revenue related to a lower tax yield as the government introduced restrictive anti-epidemic measures, figures from the Finance Ministry showed.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate ran at 0.3% in July despite a 0.1% dip of consumer prices in a month-on-month comparison. Measured with the harmonised index of consumer prices, an EU-wide gauge, Slovenia posted an annual deflation rate of 0.3% in July and prices fell by 0.2% in a month.

SUNDAY, 2 August
        VELENJE - Social democratic politician Bojan Kontič, who spent nearly a decade as mayor of Velenje and served as member both of the lower and upper chamber of parliament, died aged 59. Kontič served three stints as MP between 1996 and 2008, as served as Velenje mayor since 2010.

MONDAY, 3 August
        LJUBLJANA - The Association of Social Institutions left the government task force for Covid-19 after their demands regarding the treatment of infected residents of care homes off-site were not met. The association has long been warning that most care homes do not have the capacity to set up three separate zones in case of confirmed Covid-19 as envisaged by the current protocols.
        SALZBURG, Austria - Drago Jančar, arguably Slovenia's leading contemporary writer, formally received the Austrian State Prize for European Literature 2020. The jury said one of the big strengths of his literature was that it was "taking an individual to penetratingly render understandable the delusions of our history".
        LJUBLJANA - The treasury has extended an existing three-year bond by EUR 50 million following demand by an investor. The yield to maturity was -0.492%, the lowest on record and just 27 basis points over a comparable German bond. The issue was completed at the end of June.
        MURSKA SOBOTA - The European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day was marked, with keynote speaker Boštjan Žekš, an advisor to President Borut Pahor, saying he felt ashamed over the suffering of the Roma being almost forgotten. He also said that the Roma did not have it easy in modern-day Slovenia.
        KOPER - Fierce storms with winds exceeding 120 km/h hit western Slovenia. The coastal region was hit the hardest, with locals clearing debris, fallen trees and pumping water out of buildings late into the night. Storms raged over Primorska, Notranjska, central Slovenia and the Drava valley.
        
TUESDAY, 4 August
        LJUBLJANA - Thirteen public health institutions and a private concessionaire have received the much discussed Siriusmed R30 ventilators ordered through Geneplanet that had been supplied to Slovenia before the contract with the company was rescinded in May, an STA investigation showed. Although the Health Ministry said that they could be kept only if additional equipment is supplied to make them suitable for Covid-19 patients, only two hospitals received this equipment.
        LJUBLJANA - In the wake of Slovenia's announcement to sign a Joint Declaration on 5G Security with the US, China's Huawei said it was willing to discuss 5G technology security issues with the Slovenian government as well as sign a non-spying agreement with the country.
        LJUBLJANA - Tatjana Rojc, the ethnic Slovenian senator in Rome, said the Italian government planned to send an additional contingent of soldiers to the Friuli Venezia Giulia region to help monitor the border with Slovenia in the face of an increase in illegal migrations. The Slovenian Interior Ministry said the next day it was familiar with Italy's plans and that every additional measure aimed at preventing illegal migration was welcome.
        LJUBLJANA - New Slovenia - Christian Democrats (NSi) celebrated their 20th anniversary, but a major ceremony, to be attended by the head of the European People's Party, Donald Tusk, is scheduled for 4 September. NSi head Matej Tonin said the party should grow stronger to fortify the healthy and rational political centrum in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - Alcohol consumption among young people in Slovenia declined in 2017/2018 but it remains high by international standards, the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) said, as it presented the results of international survey Health Behaviour in School-aged Children for Slovenia which showed that 71% of 15-year-olds and 86% of 17-year-olds have tried alcohol.

WEDNESDAY, 5 August
        BEIRUT, Lebanon/LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin confirmed that all four members of the Slovenian Armed Forces serving in the UNIFIL and UNTSO missions in Lebanon were safe and well following a series of massive explosions in Beirut that claimed at least 100 lives. Tonin offered his "sincere condolences" to the victims' relatives.
        LJUBLJANA - The effects of a weakened economy caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have started to reflect with increasing intensity in Slovenia's banking sector, as the most recent data from the central bank showed the combined half-year profit of banks reaching just a third of the figure in the same period last year. Interest and non-interest revenue has been dropping, while the cost of impairments and provisions has increased.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's registered jobless total stood at 89,397 at the end of July, which is almost unchanged compared to June but due to unemployment growth in April and May the figure is 24.4% above that from July 2019, showed data released by the Employment Service.
        SOLKAN/LJUBLJANA - The drowning of a ten-year-old at a popular bathing spot in the Soča river last week has raised a series of questions, even more so after the parents accused the social services and the police of making the family tragedy even more unbearable. The accident happened on 28 July, when the boy, holidaying with his grandparents and two siblings, was swimming at a bathing spot in the Soča near Solkan, when he was swept downriver by a sudden surge in the water level.
        
THURSDAY, 6 August
        LJUBLJANA - The US State Department and the Slovenian Foreign Ministry confirmed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Slovenia on 13 August to sign a Joint Declaration on 5G Security as part of a tour of four European countries. He will also meet top officials.
        LJUBLJANA/KOPER - A criminal complaint against a member of the Slovenian Armed Forces who allegedly stopped an Italian-Slovenian near the countries' border at gunpoint in May has been thrown out by the Koper district prosecution office for lack of evidence that the soldier had committed the alleged criminal act.
        LJUBLJANA - Delivering a video message for the international community as part of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, President Borut Pahor urged much more cooperation and shared, genuine efforts to strengthen trust.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian subsidiary of the Italian banking group Unicredit saw its consolidated profit plunge to EUR 1 million in the first half of 2020 compared to EUR 16 million in the same period last year.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of new coronavirus infections remained steady throughout the week, dropping during the weekend, when fewer tests are performed. 15 out of 771 tests for Sars-CoV-2 conducted on Wednesday came back positive. One person died, taking the death toll to 125. The number of active cases stood at 190. There have been 2,223 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Slovenia so far.
        MURSKA SOBOTA - Police reported the seizure of 2,650 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of around EUR 2 million on an island on the river Mura, in what is the biggest cannabis bust in Pomurje region in recent years. Three middle-aged men were arrested and face up to ten years in prison.

All our posts in this series are here

01 Aug 2020, 11:07 AM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 24 July
        LJUBLJANA - The Jožef Stefan Institute warned the number of new coronavirus cases in the country was growing exponentially with the effective reproduction number higher than 1, which meant the epidemic might be getting out of hand.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of overnight stays generated by tourists in Slovenia in June dropped by 63.2% to nearly 610,000 compared to the same period last year, the Statistics Office said. As many as 67% of overnight stays were by Slovenians.
        LONDON, UK - Slovenia was added to the UK's list of air bridges, which allows travel to England without needing to self-isolate effective from 28 July after Slovenia had earlier placed the UK as the last on its green list of safe countries.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian capital witnessed anti-government protests for the 14th consecutive Friday, with a new focus this time on women's rights. Protest campaigns were also held in Maribor, Piran and Velenje.

SATURDAY, 25 July
        KRANJSKA GORA - The traditional Russian Chapel commemoration was held below the Vršič Pass, drawing much thinner crowds than usual due to the coronavirus restrictions.
        MARIBOR - Russian Ambassador to Slovenia Timur Eyvazov said in an interview with Večer he disagreed with assessments that Slovenia's former government was pro-Russian.

SUNDAY, 26 July
        LJUBLJANA - Several major retailers opened their stores after being closed on Sunday for four months due to coronavirus restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša endorsed Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec's appearance in a promotional video of a wine maker made during a trip to the Kras region after questions arose of a potential breach of integrity legislation and ethics code. Pivec and the winemaker later denied the allegations of impropriety and said she had paid for private accommodation during her trip.

MONDAY, 27 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prosecutor Jaka Brezigar was appointed the Slovenian member of the European Public Prosecutor's Office by the Council of the EU, along with prosecutors of 21 other participating member countries.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received the credentials of newly appointed German Ambassadors Natalie Kauther and Adrian Pollman. Credentials were also presented by Algerian Ambassador Ali Mokrani, the Sultanate of Oman's Ambassador Yousuf Ahmed Hamed Aljabri and the Dominican Republic's Ambassador Lourdes Gisela Antonia Victoria-Kruse.
        LJUBLJANA - The Human Rights Ombudsman assessed that the failure to comply with the government decree on the mandatory use of face masks in public indoor spaces cannot be penalised.
        LJUBLJANA - Retail sales in Slovenia declined by 9.6% year-on-year from January to June as the coronavirus epidemic shut down most stores for several weeks in spring. The figures for June suggest the sector is slowly picking up.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey carried out by the Slovenian Marketing Association and the pollster Valicon showed that the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted Slovenian companies much more unevenly than the recession in 2009; 58% of the surveyed companies have had negative effects, while 17% had positive.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry said a member of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) serving at the Allied Joint Force Command Naples had been involved in a car accident in which one person died. Italian media reports said the man had caused the accident in which the wife of an Italian law enforcement officer died.
        DOBROVNIK - Bicycle maker Spiegel Bikes announced that Slovenian ultra cyclist Marko Baloh had set a new 1,000-km time trial world record with 28 hours, 50 minutes and 14 seconds.

TUESDAY, 28 July
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign minister Anže Logar and his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radman discussed measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and the EU Council presidency, agreeing that there was no need for stepping up border restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health reported that the majority of coronavirus cases in the past two months had been in care homes (80), followed by schools (54), shops (37), health institutions (32) and restaurants, pubs and cafes (13).
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - 23 villages in Austria near the border with Slovenia will get bilingual signposts, according to decisions of the town councils of Sankt Jakob im Rosental and Sittersdorf. The Slovenian minority welcomed the move and expressed hope that other municipalities would follow suit.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that jurist Andraž Teršek, who failed to get elected a Constitutional Court judge by parliament June, had turned to the Constitutional Court asking it to annul the vote and order a new vote on his bid.

WEDNESDAY, 29 July
        LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court ordered the Competition Protection Agency to release 70% of shares of retailer Mercator it seized from Croatian Agrokor in December 2019. It said that the AVK did not have legal grounds to seize the shares.
        LJUBLJANA - Uroš Lepoša was appointed new acting director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to replace Igor Lamberger after less than three months on the job.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported that Alfi, a Slovenian equity fund, had acquired over 80% of the debt owed by Tuš, one of the largest grocers in Slovenia, saying that a framework restructuring agreement to deleverage the grocer would be signed soon.
        LJUBLJANA - Newsmapper, an advanced article-tracking tool developed by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) made the European Commission's list of the best European innovations as part of the Innovation Radar platform.
        LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court stayed the government decision to dismiss early three members of the supervisory board of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija until adopting a final ruling in the matter.
        LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency (AVK) warned about the drawbacks of changes to the media act regarding concentration monitoring. The agency advocates a strict separation of monitoring the public interest in media, which should not be in the domain of the AVK, and assessing concentration in line with the competition law.
        LJUBLJANA - Violent storms with strong winds, downpours and hail caused substantial damage and disruption across central, eastern, northeastern and southeastern Slovenia. The hardest hit was the Domžale area in central Slovenia, where hail the size of an egg caused around EUR 2.5 million in damage.

THURSDAY, 30 July
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana University Medical Centre (UKC), the country's largest hospital, said it was preparing for an expected surge in coronavirus infections with the arrival of autumn and winter. This was after 24 persons tested positive for the day before, taking the national case count to 2,139, including 242 active cases. The death toll rose to 118.
        NOVO MESTO - The pharma group Krka reported EUR 803.8 million in sales revenue for the first half of the year, a 6% increase year-on-year, as net profit rose by 15% year-on-year to EUR 160.3 million. The management said the results were record-breaking.
        LJUBLJANA - The telecoms group Telekom Slovenije reported EUR 335.4 million in operating revenue for the first half of the year, a decline of 2% year-on-year, while net profit was down 24% to EUR 14.8 million, which was blamed on the pandemic and the effects of the agreement on the sale of Planet TV.
        IDRIJA - The industrial conglomerate Hidria, a major car industry supplier, announced it had signed a EUR 15 million deal with Germany's Audi and Porsche and Italy's Lamborghini under which it will develop and supply them with key aluminium engine parts.
        LJUBLJANA - A poll conducted by Mediana and run by the newspaper Delo showed that more than half of respondents do not believe a potential attempt by the opposition to vote out the Janez Janša government would succeed.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court ruled that the 2019 supplementary budget documents were not in conflict with the Constitution. This was after the then opposition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) petitioned the court in April 2019, claiming the budget expenditure planned was so high it violated the fiscal rule.

All our posts in this series are here

25 Jul 2020, 12:00 PM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 17 July
        FRANKFURT, Germany - Fitch affirmed Slovenia's credit rating of A with a stable outlook. The rating agency forecast that the country's GDP would shrink by 7.1% this year, growing by 4.9% next year and another 3.3% in 2022.
        LJUBLJANA - Montenegro and Luxembourg were placed on Slovenia's red list of Covid-19 highly risky countries given their epidemiologic status. Croatia remained on the yellow list, which indicates a higher level of caution is advised.
        LJUBLJANA - Early findings of the Information Commissioner inquiry into potentially problematic access to 45 politicians' personal data have not revealed systemic abuse. Only one police officer has so far been identified as having accessed such data without authorisation, the office said.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protests were held in several Slovenian cities for the 13th week running. In the capital some 3,000 protesters packed Prešeren Square and later stopped at RTV Slovenija to express their support for the public broadcaster in the light of the planned media reform. The protest culminated in a "people's assembly" in a bid to formulate clear demands.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of human rights NGOs urged the government to treat Eritrean asylum seekers more fairly, pointing out that only three of 15 applications lodged by Eritreans who recently arrived in Slovenia had been granted. The Interior Ministry rejected the notion that its policy is unprofessional or politically motivated in any way.

SATURDAY, 18 July
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Tomaž Gantar signed a two-year cooperation agreement with the regional office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Europe. Cooperation is to focus on control of communicable and non-communicable disease and the strengthening of healthcare.

MONDAY, 20 July
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - An event marked the 10th anniversary of Slovenia's membership of the OECD with Foreign Minister Anže Logar saying that joining the organisation offered the country an opportunity for new development achievements. OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria, addressing the event by video call, said he was confident Slovenia would exit the current crisis stronger.
        PARIS, France - The OECD's latest economic survey praised Slovenia's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and urged the state to continue providing support measures for the economy until growth is fully restored. But as stimulus measures are gradually being wound down, the economy may need a fiscal stimulus to prevent a possible spike in bankruptcies and unemployment, it said.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar discussed the rule of law and the EU's new rule of law mechanism with European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders in a videoconference, focussing on the anticipated first rule of law report by the EU Commission. The pair talked about approaching Slovenia's EU Council presidency as well.
        LJUBLJANA - RTV Slovenija's programming council did not back the public broadcaster's changed financial and production plans for 2020, which the leadership had prepared in response to the coronavirus. The no-vote could put RTV Slovenija in a dire financial situation amid concerns that the government is trying to undermine it with a controversial media reform.
        LJUBLJANA - The latest Vox Populi public opinion poll, carried by Večer and Dnevnik, showed little change at the top of the party rankings. The ruling SDS polled at 22.7%, the same as the month before, with the opposition SocDems down half a point to 14.7%, having jumped by seven points in the previous month. The government's approval rating was at 48.5%, up slightly from June.
        
TUESDAY, 21 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Janez Janša said Slovenia was pleased with the outcome of the EU budget talks since Slovenia is eligible for EUR 10.5 billion over the next seven years, of which EUR 6.6 billion in grants. He also rejected the perception that the rule of law discussion at the EU summit was about Slovenia siding with Hungary and Poland. Instead, he said, it was about clarifying the concept.
        LJUBLJANA - The registered unemployment rate in Slovenia in May, when some of the lockdown measures related to the coronavirus epidemic were relaxed, stood at 9.3%, which is 0.2 of a percentage point more than in April, the Employment Service said. The registered unemployment rate in May was up by 1.4 percentage points compared to February, the last full month before the restrictive anti-epidemic measures were introduced.
        KOPER - Austria launched an honorary consulate in the city of Koper, its second after Maribor. It will be headed by Honorary Consul Urška Svetlik, a business executive. The opening of the consulate illustrates the importance Austria attributes to Koper and the entire western region of Primorska, Austrian Ambassador to Slovenia Sigrid Berka said on the occasion.

WEDNESDAY, 22 July
        BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - The presidents of Slovenia and Slovakia, Borut Pahor and Zuzana Čaputova, welcomed the EU budget deal as they held talks in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The presidents discussed bilateral cooperation and later opened a business forum focusing on green technologies that featured 34 companies and institutions from both countries.
        BUDAPEST, Hungary - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec visited Budapest for talks with Hungarian ministers of foreign affairs and innovation and technology, Peter Szijjarto and Laszlo Palkovics. Vrtovec said economic cooperation could be further upgraded with energy and road infrastructure projects, such as the Cirkovce-Pince electric power line.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Following the EU summit deal, the government set up two task forces to make sure the country phases all the funds available to it. It was announced that mayors and regional development agencies would be involved in the drafting of the national recovery plan, which the government intends to adopt by the end of August.
        LJUBLJANA - After a year and a half of calls for redefining rape in the penal code, the Justice Ministry said that legislative changes had been drafted. Their aim is to embed the consent standard in criminal law, making every non-consensual sexual act a punishable offence.
        
THURSDAY, 23 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission expressed concerned about the media legislation planned by the Slovenian government. Presenting the most recent Media Pluralism Monitor report, Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova said Slovenia should not follow in Hungary's footsteps when it came to media ownership.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia announced it planned to sign a Joint Declaration on 5G Security with the United States, which could curb the involvement of China's Huawei in the deployment of the fifth generation wireless communication networks in the country. The government submitted the declaration to the National Assembly.
        LJUBLJANA - A total of 935 tests for Covid-19 were performed in Slovenia on Wednesday, which confirmed 27 new infections, making for a total of 136 cases in the past seven days. There were 24 patients hospitalised with Covid-19, including two in intensive care. The death increased by four in a week to 115.
        LJUBLJANA/VIENNA, Austria - Slovenia and Austria agreed to try out joint surveillance of the shared border using technology such as cameras and drones, as Interior Minister Aleš Hojs held talks with his Austrian counterpart Karl Nehammer at a conference on migrations along the Balkan route.
        LJUBLJANA - The government extended the subsidised furlough scheme by another month until the end of August with Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj saying the measure was still deemed needed despite an improvement in the labour market.
        WARSAW, Poland - Visiting Poland, Foreign Minister Anže Logar met his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz and EU Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski. The officials reaffirmed good relations between Poland and Slovenia, with Logar expressing interest in continuing and strengthening cooperation between the Visegrad Four and Slovenia. Czaputowicz said that Slovenia and the Visegrad countries achieved success together at the recent EU summit.
        LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije said it had started setting up the country's first commercial 5G networks using its existing base stations and within the existing 2600MHz frequency spectrum used in 4G. Coverage will initially be provided in about 25% of the country but is expected to exceed to 33% by the end of the year.

All our posts in this series are here

18 Jul 2020, 11:15 AM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 10 July
        OTOČEC - In a meeting focusing exclusively on the countries' efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, the prime ministers of Slovenia and Croatia, Janez Janša and Andrej Plenković, agreed epidemiologists would be in contact about the situation on a daily basis. Plenković assured Slovenian tourists they were safe in Croatia, while Janša commended Croatia on its efforts to contain the virus.
        OTOČEC - PM Janez Janša told TV Slovenija he was a realist about the border dispute with Croatia and that the two countries would be able to take a step forward here once Croatia had an approximate plan for solving its border issue with other neighbours.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša said he had asked Aleš Hojs to reconsider his decision to step down as interior minister. He told a TV interview Slovenia needed an interior minister who is operational 24 hours a day. Hojs later said he would rethink his decision and definitely stay on until he faces a no-confidence vote in parliament, presumably in September.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian agreed in a phone call to boost political dialogue in anticipation of the countries' successive spells at the presidency of the Council of the EU. Logar also expressed Slovenia's interest in enhancing the existing strategic partnership with France.
        LJUBLJANA - New Slovenia (NSi) MP Jožef Horvat revealed that his personal data kept by the police had been accessed on several occasions between November 2019 and May 2020. While he alleges he was under a kind of police surveillance under the Marjan Šarec government, police officials explained that police officers could access such files only for the purpose of doing their job. Several other MPs came forward with the same accusation, as did Foreign Minister Anže Logar.
        LJUBLJANA - After the management of the state-run motorway company DARS resigned, the supervisory board appointed a new management board, with vice-president of the coalition New Slovenia (NSi) Valentin Hajdinjak becoming the new CEO. DARS said the management stepped down by mutual agreement.

SATURDAY, 11 July
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša rejected claims by the State Prosecutors' Council that he was undermining state prosecutors' independence by protesting with the state prosecutor general about the absence of prosecution targeting anti-government protesters who use the slogan "Death to Janšism". Janša said prosecutors needed to observe the general instructions on criminal prosecution policy drawn up by the body in charge of this.
        NOVO MESTO - Cavers exploring the karst caves in the Kočevski Rog woods in south-eastern Slovenia have found what appears to be another mass grave in what is an area containing the remains of several thousand people killed in summary executions after the end of World War II. The chair of the government commission for mass graves, Jože Dežman, said that the chasm contains the remains of at least 35 people, while dozens more are expected to be exhumed.
        LJUBLJANA - The CEO of railways operator Slovenske Železnice told the STA the company planned to lay off 1,000 people this year, reducing total headcount to 6,000. He also said Slovenia needed a long-term infrastructure fund.

SUNDAY, 12 July
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša became the target of criticism after implying on Twitter that the Srebrenica massacre would not have occurred had post-WWII summary executions been adequately condemned. Oslobođenje, a leading Bosnian newspaper, wondered whether the statement was "an attempt to amnesty criminals who perpetrated one of the biggest genocides in this region", while Slobodna Bosna said it was a "morbid provocation not becoming of a statesman". Janša later defended his statements saying that as long as it is possible to kill with impunity in the name of one ideology and be condemned when doing it in the name of another ideology, genocides will happen in the world.

MONDAY, 13 July
        TRIESTE/BASOVIZZA, Italy - National Hall, a Slovenian centre in the heart of Trieste, was formally handed over to the Slovenian minority in Italy. A document on its ownership transfer was signed at an event attended by the Slovenian and Italian presidents, Borut Pahor and Sergio Mattarella, exactly 100 years after it was torched by Fascists. Before the ceremony the presidents laid wreaths at two memorials in Basovizza, one to the 1930 Slovenian victims of Fascism and the other to the Italian victims of post-WWII killings.
        LJUBLJANA - The coronavirus contact tracing app, which Slovenia will develop using the German open source solution, will be voluntary for everyone, Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik announced. The government previously sought to make installing the app mandatory for those with confirmed infections and those sent into quarantine.
        LJUBLJANA - During questions time in parliament, PM Janez Janša said it was necessary to depoliticise the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), saying that the NBI "was set up as a political project carrying a great burden of corruption from the get-go". He also suggested the NBI investigator cherry-picked their cases and were "outside the system".
        LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Ministry is drawing up changes that will allow ride hailing services through a digital platform in the manner provided by US giant Uber. Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec expects the government to discuss the proposal in the autumn.

TUESDAY, 14 July
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly formally initiated a parliamentary inquiry into the procurement of medical and personal protective equipment before and during the coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia. The move comes at the request of the coalition, which wants to determine political responsibility of public office holders as of 1 February, a period which includes the last month and a half of the previous government's term.
        LJUBLJANA - Wrapping up a discussion on the situation in Slovenian care homes during the Covid-19 epidemic, the parliamentary committees on health and social affairs urged the government to provide nursing hospitals and improve conditions at care homes. The committees dismissed all the proposals tabled by the opposition Left which would proclaim that Slovenia did not successfully protect care home residents during the epidemic and that the ministries should amend the strategy on fighting the coronavirus in these facilities.
        ZAGREB, Croatia - Slovenia and Croatia confirmed revised programmes for the decommissioning of the Krško nuclear power station and the storage of radwaste, as the ministers in charge of energy chaired a session of the intergovernmental commission on the management of the jointly-owned power station. The revised programmes reflect the decision to extend the plant's operation by 20 years beyond its originally planned shutdown in 2023, and the decision that each country will build its own radwaste repository.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament appointed tax expert Ivan Simič and former long-serving chairman of insurer Grawe Božo Emeršič as supervisors of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), the custodian of state assets. The pair will join the other three supervisors for five years after the terms of Duško Kos and Damjan Belič expires on 17 July.
        VELENJE - Home appliances maker Hisense Gorenje decided not to lay off several hundred production workers as originally planned. It will instead employ soft methods to reduce the workforce, since orders have grown in recent weeks and June was the first profitable month this year. The in-house trade union welcomed the latest development.
        LJUBLJANA - Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina handed his office's annual report for 2019 to PM Janez Janša and Speaker Igor Zorčič, urging politicians to take action so that the ombudsman's recommendations are implemented. The report makes nearly 160 concrete recommendations to a variety of state bodies and expresses concern that as many as 200 recommendations made by Svetina's predecessors are yet to be implemented.

WEDNESDAY, 15 July
        LJUBLJANA - Several hundred journalists and media workers gathered to protest against a media reform planned by the government in front of the National Assembly, where the parliamentary Culture Committee discussed changes to three media laws that were broadly condemned by key domestic and international groups. Following outcry from the likes of the European Broadcasting Union, CoE human rights commissioner and the European Federation of Journalists, the government decided to extent the public debate until 5 September, even as government officials suggested at the committee debate they were not willing to change the main tenets of the plan.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission discussed a report which shows that the 7 May incident in which two Slovenian soldiers stopped a civilian in the woods near the border with Italy had happened and had not been orchestrated. The incident was not orchestrated and the two hikers were not members of the Antifa terrorist organisation as alleged by Prime Minister Janez Janša, commission chair Matjaž Nemec of the opposition SocDems said.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia voiced disappointment with the latest proposal to cut the EU's 2021-2017 budget to EUR 1.074 trillion and would like more money to be allocated for cohesion funds, according to Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan, who took part in a video meeting of ministers in charge of EU affairs. He urged a prompt deal on the recovery funding.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court decided to stay legislation allowing construction projects to be sped up in part also by restricting the powers of environmental NGOs in the process of environmental permit procedures. The court was petitioned by several NGOs.

THURSDAY, 16 July
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed at first reading a bill that would provide EUR 780 million for investment in the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) between 2021 in 2026, the bulk for the acquisition of armoured personnel vehicles to set up a battalion battlegroup, plus an aircraft and two helicopters. The coalition was in favour, while the left opposition was against or abstained.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly was expected to pass legislation that would close all but the smallest shops on Sunday but ended up merely sending the bill into third reading. This defers the final decision to September at the earliest. The government does not support the bill.
        LJUBLJANA - Four hospitals will receive coronavirus patients from nursing homes in order to make it easier for nursing homes to organise, the Health Ministry announced, in what marks a change from how such patients were treated during the first wave of the epidemic. A total of 50 beds will be available at special nursing departments at both university medical centres in Ljubljana and Maribor and the general hospitals in Novo Mesto and Nova Gorica.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of new infections remained steady throughout the week with 19 reported for Wednesday for a total of 121 in the last seven days. The number of people in hospital rose by two to 18, with one patient in intensive care. No new deaths due to Covid-1' have been reported since 31 May.
        LJUBLJANA - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch urged the Austrian minister in charge of ethnic minorities, Susanna Raab, to take action after Grafenstein, a municipality in Carinthia, recently decided to effectively abolish bilingual education. The decision is being examined by Carinthia's regional office for constitutional affairs.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian museums and galleries recorded a financial shortfall of around EUR 650,000 due to coronavirus restrictions. The revenue loss will be impossible to offset, said the Slovenian Museum Association

All our posts in this series are here

11 Jul 2020, 13:02 PM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 3 July
        LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - Slovenia recorded 30 new coronavirus infections, a new high since mid-April, with a large majority of the cases being up to 44 years of age. By 8 July 97 more cases were confirmed, bringing the tally of active cases to 230 and the total case count to 1,776. The number of hospitalisations rose to 15 by 8 July, none of them intensive care cases.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his visiting German counterpart Heiko Maas held a virtual meeting with Portugal's Augusto Santos Silva focusing on the trio EU presidency plans, the coronavirus response and the EU multi-year budget and recovery plan. They established the EU was better equipped to deal with a potential second wave of coronavirus infections. Similar topics were discussed as Maas met Prime Minister Janez Janša and President Borut Pahor.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's registered jobless total dipped by 1.1% from May to 89,377 at the end of June in a first monthly decrease since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The figure is still 26.3% up year-on-year tough.
        LJUBLJANA - The ruling coalition parties signed a deal on cooperation with the opposition National Party (SNS) and the Italian and Hungarian minority MPs. The SNS and the two minority MPs agreed to support government bills and projects in the 2020-2022 period. Other opposition parties turned down the offer to join the partnership on the ground that PM Janez Janša did not inspire trust.
        LJUBLJANA - Police security was beefed up in the centre of Ljubljana as some 2,500 anti-government protesters took to the streets for the 11th consecutive week, while a smaller group of some 80 government supporters wearing yellow vests staged a counter-protest. The anti-government protesters and some media linked the yellow vests to the neo-Nazi groups and to the ruling party. Despite some tension the protests passed off without a major confrontation.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The ALDE party's bureau decided to send a fact-finding mission to Slovenia, expectedly after the summer break, according to unofficial information. However, ALDE party press service said there was "no discussion on the expulsion of any of the Slovenian member parties of ALDE", denying the rumour it would expel the Modern Centre Party (SMC).
        LJUBLJANA - The central bank said that Slovenian banks received EUR 401.1 million worth of requests for a deferral of loan payments in the three months since the relevant legislation took effect. The number of requests filed was 23,700, which amounts to 3.6% of all loans. Processing over 90% of the requests, the banks approving the bulk of them.
        LJUBLJANA - The government replaced four of the five supervisors of 2TDK, the company established for the construction and management of a new rail link to the port of Koper, appointing Robert Rožič the new chief supervisor in what is seen as a prelude to the management's replacement.

SATURDAY, 4 July
        LJUBLJANA - Border restrictions entered into force for citizens of Croatia, France and the Czech Republic as the countries were demoted from the green list of Covid-19 safe countries to the yellow list, but France and most of the Czech Republic were reinstated to green two days later. The citizens of yellow countries are submitted to a mandatory two-week quarantine on entering Slovenia unless they are just transiting the country or had accommodation booked and could prove they had tested negative for Sars-CoV-2. In addition, Slovenia started serving quarantine orders at border crossings for arrivals from red countries, including to Slovenians unable to prove they arrived from Croatia rather than from further south. More than 1,000 quarantine orders were served at the weekend.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the daily number of coronavirus infections hitting an eleven-week high the previous day by warning that there were only two alternatives until an effective medication or vaccine against Covid-19 was available: drastic shutdown of public life, border closures, social distancing and depression, or mandatory use of a contact tracing app.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that retired brigadier general Tone Krkovič, one of the defendants in the Patria defence corruption trial, had reached a settlement with the state for EUR 60,000 in damages for wrongful imprisonment. This means that only Janez Janša, the incumbent PM, is yet to get damages for wrongful imprisonment over a guilty ruling that was quashed by the Constitutional Court in 2015. Businessman Ivan Črnkovič settled for EUR 63,000 in 2018. Janša claims EUR 900,000.

SUNDAY, 5 July
        VIPAVA - News broke of a coronavirus outbreak at the Vipava care home, the first such after the 80% of Slovenia's 111 Covid-19-related deaths in the first wave of the epidemic were at care homes. Eleven of the 108 residents and seven of the 45 staff tested positive after all had been tested. In response the association of care homes systemic measures had not been put in place to protect the residents.
        ZAGREB, Croatia - Barbara Antolić Vupora was elected to the Croatian parliament on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) as the first member of the Slovenian minority to enter Sabor in its 30-year history.

MONDAY, 6 July
        LJUBLJANA - Meeting Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj, Foreign Minister Anže Logar vowed that Slovenia would provide support for Albania on its path to the EU. The ministers also talked about the Covid-19 pandemic, with Cakaj lauding Slovenia's response, and efforts to strengthen bilateral cooperation, most notably in business.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council, a government advisory body, estimated the public budget costs of coronavirus crisis stimulus measures until the beginning of July at around of EUR 1.1 billion, well below the government's initial estimate of EUR 4 billion and subsequent correction to EUR 2.8 billion.
        LJUBLJANA - Government spokesman Jelko Kacin revealed that a couple of foreign nationals had breached quarantine rules and now faced a fine or even prison on suspicion they spread coronavirus out of negligence. A 37-year-old woman failed to notify emergency department staff beforehand that her husband had Covid-19, who kept going to work despite being ordered to self-isolate.
        LJUBLJANA - The four left-leaning opposition parties filed for a parliamentary inquiry to examine the efficiency of government measures taken to contain the Covid-19 epidemic and mitigate its consequences, including potential violations of human rights and freedoms.
        LJUBLJANA - The State Prosecutors' Council condemned a letter PM Janez Janša addressed to the state prosecutor general on 19 June over the alleged inaction to prosecute death threats expressed at anti-government protests and attacks on the police taking place as part of them.

TUESDAY, 7 July
        LJUBLJANA - Mario Fafangel, the chief epidemiologist at the National Institute of Public Health, urged adherence to existing measures to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections as he revealed that the cumulative average infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants was at the 10 threshold "we've been using for other countries when designating them no longer safe".
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission kept its projection for Slovenia's economy to shrink by 7% this year unchanged in the latest forecast, while downgrading its outlook for the country for 2021 by 0.6 of a percentage point compared to the May forecast to 6.1% growth.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Commission would like to keep the dialogue with Slovenia on ECB archives, in her response to a recent letter PM Janez Janša examining the possibility for the Commission to withdraw the legal action against Slovenia because of a 2016 seizure of ECB documents.
        LJUBLJANA - The state-owned telecoms company Telekom Slovenije signed a deal to sell Planet TV to the Hungarian media company TV2 Media for EUR 5 million. The transactions is expected to be finalised by the end of September after its gets all clearances. TV2 is owned by Jozsef Vida, whom media associate with the business network of Hungary's ruling party Fidesz. Media reports suggest Planet TV could merge with Nova24TV, the TV associated with the ruling Slovenian Democrats (SDS).
        LJUBLJANA - A report by the central bank showed that banks in Slovenia generated EUR 152 million in pre-tax profit in the first five months of the year, a 50% drop year-on-year. Growth in loans to households was halved and loans to companies are gradually declining too.
        LJUBLJANA - The Insurance Supervision Agency's report for 2019 shows that the Slovenian insurance sector performed successfully last year, with the agency saying that it was well capitalised and thus well prepared for the challenge posed by the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey presented by the National Education Institute showed that half the Slovenian primary and secondary school pupils think that remote learning posed more challenges than in-classroom learning, something that their teachers concurred with.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Book Agency announced that Slovenia's stint as the guest of honour country at the Frankfurt Book Fair was postponed for a year to 2023 due to coronavirus ramifications. So was the country's planned guest of honour appearance at the Bologna Children's Book Fair moved forward to 2022.

WEDNESDAY, 8 July
        VIENNA, Austria - President Borut Pahor met his Austrian and Croatian counterparts for the 7th trilateral meeting for talks focusing on Europe during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, and on the combat against climate change. On the eve of the meeting, Pahor and Austria's Alexander Van der Bellen agreed to mark the centenary of the Carinthian plebiscite, which determined the border between Austria and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, together as a sign of peaceful coexistence between the two nations.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - In a video debate on the challenges of the EU organised by the Foundation for a Civic Hungary and also featuring Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, PM Janez Janša called for a uniform and not entirely voluntary coronavirus tracing app for the whole of Europe as the only option to allow tourism to continue and prevent a suspension of public life. Janša also spoke of "cultural Marxism" as the biggest ideological threat to the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The government lowered the number of persons allowed in public gatherings from 50 to 10. Official events of up to 50 people will be allowed if the organiser keeps a record of all the participants.
        LJUBLJANA - Speculation arose whether Aleš Hojs would stay on as the interior minister after PM Janez Janša failed to submit formal notification of his "irrevocable resignation", announced on 30 June, to parliament by the deadline. The PM's office would not comment on the situation.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Home Policy Committee called on the government to retable a motion to invoke a special clause in the defence act that would give soldiers police powers to patrol the border after police reported a spike in illegal migration in June. The committee also urged to government to withdraw from the global compact for migration, a proposal Foreign Minister Anže Logar said his ministry would examine.
        BRNIK - Fraport Slovenija director Zmago Skobir said that passenger numbers at Ljubljana airport had been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, urging the government to help airlines with state aid to preserve routes and aviation as a whole.

THURSDAY, 9 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on his first trip abroad since assuming office in mid-March. He said Slovenia wanted the agreement on the EU's 2021-27 budget and recovery plan for Europe to be clinched as on as possible and reflect the European Commission's original proposal as much as possible. He told Stoltenberg Slovenia would invest EUR 780 million in he Slovenian Armed Forces in 2021-2026.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Anže Logar met several senior EU officials in preparation of Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021, including the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and three commissioners, among them Oliver Varhely, who is in charge of enlargement.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed by 50 votes to 23 a legislative package meant to prepare Slovenia for the second wave of Covid-19 that includes a legal basis for a contact tracing app. The app, which will be compulsory for infected persons and those placed into quarantine or self-isolation, is to be ready in a few weeks, but the opposition indicated it would challenge it at the Constitutional Court due to the many concerns, including with respect to invasion of privacy.
        LJUBLJANA - The Culture Ministry submitted for public consultation until 15 July a proposal reforming the media act, the RTV Slovenija act and the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) act under which part of the TV licence fee would be allocated for the realisation of public interest in the media and a part would go to the STA, which would no longer be eligible for state funds. The proposal also envisages changes to to the appointment procedure for STA supervisors and director.
        LJUBLJANA - The leadership of the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) backed party leader Aleksandra Pivec following a vote of no confidence in her by the party's Ljubljana branch, which Pivec said had been orchestrated.
        NOVO MESTO - The shareholders meeting of Krka endorsed the proposal to pay out EUR 133.27 million of the EUR 270.87 million in distributable profit for dividends at EUR 4.25 gross per share, EUR 1.05 more than in 2019. It also appointed economist Matej Lahovnik, the chief adviser to the government on the stimulus legislation, one of the four new supervisors. Preliminary estimates show the pharma group saw its net profit grow by 15% year-on-year to EUR 160.3 million in the first half of the year as sales revenue rose by 6% to EUR 803.8 million.

All our posts in this series are here

04 Jul 2020, 12:30 PM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 26 June
        LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry announced it had drafted changes to the international protection act envisaging solutions for a more effective strategy to tackle a growing number of asylum seekers and prevent any abuse of the system. The proposal re-introduces a possibility of bringing an appeal before the Supreme Court.
        LJUBLJANA - The editorial board of the weekly magazine Mladina filed a criminal complaint against Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, suspecting him of abuse of office in the procurement of protective and medicinal equipment during the coronavirus epidemic.
        TACEN - Addressing the main ceremony ahead of Police Day, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and Police Commissioner Anton Travner thanked members of the police force for their professional work and sacrifice. Hojs promised stepped up action against paramilitary groups if needed and support in the protection of the border.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left submitted to parliament a proposal to reinstate 80% pay compensation for workers ordered in quarantine irrespective of the circumstances. Workers are presently only entitled to 50% after coronavirus stimulus measures regulating this were lifted on 31 May.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces executed a new rotation of a part of their contingent in NATO's KFOR mission in Kosovo, the first after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. All the rotated members tested negative before being sent home, but they will still be subjected to 14-day self-isolation in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protesters took to the streets of Ljubljana, packing Prešeren Square to protest against police erecting fences, and put chains around the monument of Slovenian poet France Prešeren in a symbolic move to warn about the cultural crisis.

SATURDAY, 27 June
        LJUBLJANA - Police Commissioner Anton Travner praised the police force for its work in weekly anti-government protests and its response to the challenges of the coronavirus in an interview marking Police Day. He said he would, however, like to see more staff hired and better equipment.
        LENART - Defence Minister Matej Tonin apologised to Independence War veterans that their flag bearers had not been able to take part in the national ceremony to mark Statehood Day on 24 June. Last week's ceremony was capped at 500 people due to a ban restricting the gathering of more than 500 people because of coronavirus contagion risk.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that the former head of the national Statistics Office, Bojan Nastav, who was dismissed in late May, would be challenging the dismissal at the Administrative Court. The dismissal was followed by a letter from European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni asking Prime Minister Janez Janša to clarify the move.

SUNDAY, 28 June
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an emergency bill in preparations for a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic to adopt measures initially planned as amendments to the third stimulus package to avoid a procedural glitch. These include an extension to the furlough scheme until at least 31 July and a legal basis for a Covid-19 tracing app.
        LJUBLJANA - Milan Krek, the director of the National Institute of Public Health, said that the current epidemiologic status in Croatia was grave and that stricter measures would have to be implemented if the situation did not improve there.

MONDAY, 29 June
        LJUBLJANA - The government lowered the cap on public gatherings from 500 to 50, except for events sanctioned by health authorities, and indicated stricter oversight of quarantine orders in the face of a growing number of coronavirus cases.
        LJUBLJANA - Matej Pirc, the chief supervisor of 2TDK, the state-run company established to manage the project of a new rail link to the port of Koper, resigned. No reason was given for the decision, which comes amid speculation that the government is about to replace the entire supervisory board and subsequently the management.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Commission approved a EUR 600 million state aid scheme for Slovenian companies affected by the coronavirus crisis. Under the scheme, companies from various sectors will receive aid as grants, payment breaks and subsidies.
        LJUBLJANA - The IMAD government macroeconomic think tank recommended that measures to help relaunch the economy in the wake of the coronacrisis should also target the country's key development challenges - large share of people in precarious work, systemic shortcomings of long-term care, long waiting periods in healthcare, the lack of digital skills and red tape.
        STRASBOURG, France - The European Committee of Social Rights warned Slovenia over the failure to honour the right to equal pay and opportunities in the workplace regardless of gender. The gender pay gap substantially increased in Slovenia in 2010-2017, with Eurostat data showing women in Slovenia faced a wage gap of 8% in 2017, which compares to EU average of 16%.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of registered unemployed persons was down last week for the fourth week in a row, staying below 90,000, preliminary data from the Employment Service showed.
        LJUBLJANA - A soldiers' trade union filed a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator on suspicion of slander against the state after the Guard of Honour of the Slovenian Armed Forces was being called traitors ahead of last week's Statehood Day ceremony.
        LJUBLJANA - The ruling Democrats (SDS) lost some ground in a monthly poll run by POP TV, but continued to command a firm lead, while the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) lost support to the Left and the Social Democrats (SD).
        LJUBLJANA - The home of opposition National Party (SNS) head Zmago Jelinčič was pelleted with several bottles of a fluid believed to be spent motor oil. The incident comes after Jelinčič was put in the spotlight in a video in which he said that "The people are stupid. It was a mistake to give money to the people," a reference to government stimulus payments.
        
TUESDAY, 30 June
        LJUBLJANA - Police conducted house searches at eleven locations over suspected abuse of office in the procurement of medical ventilators, including the EUR 8.8 million deal with Geneplanet. The probe, which also targeted Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, prompted the resignation of Police Commissioner Anton Travner and Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, who claimed the investigation was politically motivated. While coalition parties were rather reserved in their reactions, the opposition called for the entire government to resign.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Andrej Jurič acting police commissioner effective from 1 July after Anton Travner resigned. Jurič has been with the police force since 1986, most recently as a senior inspector at the Centre for Minor Offence Cases at the Uniformed Police Directorate of the General Police Department.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia allocated EUR 70,000 to support programmes of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Syria and Turkey for 2020-2021. The donation was made as part of a donor conference which raised a total of EUR 6.9 billion for internally displaced Syrians and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry confirmed that Slovenian Ambassador to Switzerland Marta Kos had stepped down, citing no official reason. Kos meanwhile told the newspaper Dnevnik the resignation was linked to recent oversight of her management of the Embassy in Bern.
        LJUBLJANA - The Office of the Information Commissioner voiced reservations about government plans for a coronavirus contact tracing app for mobile devices, in particular the requirement that app use would be mandatory for those with confirmed infections.
        LJUBLJANA - Faced with the coronavirus crisis, Slovenia recorded a general government deficit of EUR 739 million or 6.6% of GDP in the first quarter. The figure exceeds last year's quarter one deficit by EUR 647 million, data from the Statistics Office showed.
        KRŠKO - Gen Energija, a power utility that manages Slovenia's half of the Krško nuclear power station, said its net profit rose by almost 20% to EUR 48.5 million even as sales declined by 5.5% to EUR 2.25 billion. The Krško plant accounted for 81% of total production.

WEDNESDAY, 1 July
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said he did not intend to step down following house searches related to an investigation into alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of medical supplies and PPE during the epidemic. He said he had PM Janez Janša's full support to carry on, while his Modern Centre Party (SMC) was also strongly behind him.
        LJUBLJANA - Director of the National Bureau of Investigation Igor Lamberger rejected the allegation by outgoing Interior Minister Aleš Hojs that the house searches related to the procurement of medical and protective equipment were politically motivated. Hojs's statements were also strongly criticised by police associations and trade unions.
        LJUBLJANA - The government's chief Covid-19 adviser Bojana Beović raised concern about the emergence of secondary infections as well as cases without no apparent source as cases are rising exponentially. She said she was worried Slovenia might close down its borders too late.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša reiterated the need for the EU to adopt the next multi-year budget before the summer break as he talked to EU Council President Jean Michel in a videoconference. He warned that the current, relatively advantageous situation, as far as the coronavirus pandemic went, might be misleading as everything could change very quickly.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor's plan to pay tribute to Italian victims of post-WWII killings on the sideline of a 13 July ceremony with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella stirred a debate at a high level. While FM Anže Logar told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee he did not understand the disquiet, opposition SocDems leader Tanja Fajon said that such a gesture could end up serving not reconciliation but historical revisionism.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia joined the EU's declaration which expresses the bloc's concern with China's 30 June adoption of a law which curbs Hong Kong's autonomy as well as rights and freedoms of its residents. The document urges preserving Hong Kong's high-degree autonomy as set down in the Hong Kong basic law and China's international commitments.
        KRANJ - The Slovenian telecoms equipment maker Iskratel was acquired by the Austrian group S&T under a EUR 37.5 million deal. The transaction is expected to be finalised in the autumn as it awaits regulatory approval.
        IDRIJA - The Swedish multinational Lindab announced it would close down the IMP Klima Group, its Slovenian-based cooling arm that it acquired in 2015 from industrial conglomerate Hidria. The decision will affect 212 jobs in Slovenia by the end of the year.
        LJUBLJANA - Gabrijel Škof resigned as the chairman of Slovenian Sovereign Holding, the custodian of state assets, citing personal reasons. Taking over temporarily from Škof, who assumed office on 1 October 2019, is Igor Kržan, a member of the supervisory board.
        LJUBLJANA - The state-owned SID export and development bank issued its first "Covid-19 bonds" to collect almost EUR 350 million with the maturity of five years, as part of its regular borrowing on capital markets to finance its programmes aimed at helping the Slovenian economy exist the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Transparency International Slovenia announced it had launched a website called Integrity Watch, featuring tools for keeping track of lobbying contacts of the government and parliament, and applicable business restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's pensioners, people with disabilities and war veterans were entitled to free intercity bus and train rides as of this day in line with relevant legislative changes passed in October 2019. Some 600,000 persons are eligible.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Festival opened with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Piano Concerto No. 3. Conducted by Charles Dutoit, and featuring Slovenia's leading pianist Dubravka Tomšič Srebotnjak. The 68th summer festival will be running in Ljubljana until 30 August.

THURSDAY, 2 July
        LJUBLJANA - Out of 1,198 coronavirus tests conducted the previous day, 21 came back positive, the highest daily figure since 16 April when Slovenia recorded 36 new cases, government data showed. The National Institute of Public Health expressed concern, saying it had detected two hotspots - one in the Štajerska region in the north-east and the other in Koroška in the north. In a bid to contain the virus, the government was to meet for a correspondence session today to remove Croatia, France and Czechia from the green list of countries considered epidemiologically safe by Slovenia, effective on Saturday. Being put on the yellow list means that most foreign citizens arriving in Slovenia from these countries need to subject themselves to a two-week quarantine, while this does not apply to Slovenians returning from yellow-listed countries.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša published a letter he had recently sent to State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa in which he says the prosecution is neglecting its role in relation to the anti-government protests by failing to respond to inciting to violence. The letter has been met with strong criticism, with Šketa saying the prosecution was efficient and acting in line with the law, and the head of the opposition SocDems, Tanja Fajon, mulling an impeachment motion against Janša.
        BUDAPEST, Hungary - Paying an official visit to Hungary, President Borut Pahor confirmed with his counterpart Janos Ader the excellent and friendly relations between the two countries and pointed out Slovenia and Hungary were among the countries successfully managing the new coronavirus. He briefed Adler on Slovenia's plan for the EU presidency in the second half of 2021 and broached the issue of "greater Hungary" maps. Migration was another topic discussed.
        VIENNA, Austria - Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič met his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka in what was Zorčič's first foreign visit. The pair discussed improving the situation of the Slovenian minority in Austria and exchanged experiences in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The situation in the automotive industry seems to be slowly stabilising after the epidemic, as the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce said in the first six months of the year, sales were down by a third but in June the year-on-year drop was only 7.27%.
        TREBNJE - KZ Krka and KZ Trebnje, two agricultural cooperatives operating in the south-east of Slovenia announced plans for a merger that will create the largest cooperative in the country with almost 1,000 members, 260 employees and an expected annual revenue of almost EUR 65 million.
        LJUBLJANA - As much as 85% of the FFP2 face masks delivered to Slovenia by mid-June were supplied without the required certificates, with all but one supplier putting forward legally invalid certificates by issuers not certified for testing personal protective equipment (PPE), the Slovenian web portal Oštro reported. The revealed a similar situation across Europe.

All our posts in this series are here

27 Jun 2020, 13:32 PM

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

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FRIDAY, 19 June
        BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša underlined that the EU must come to an agreement on the coronavirus recovery plan before the summer break, as he addressed his counterparts in a video-conferenced summit. Delays would have detrimental effects on financial markets, he said, adding a week "may mean billions".
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved Slovenia's plan to redistribute EUR 275 million in cohesion funds to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus epidemic in the country. The funds will be spent in healthcare, programmes for SMEs, job preservation, protection of vulnerable groups and digitalisation of education.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar agreed with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba over the phone that bilateral cooperation should be strengthened. Apart from discussing preparations for a potential second wave of the pandemic, the pair also touched on the security and humanitarian situation in Ukraine.
        CERKLJE OB KRKI - A ceremony was held at the army airport Cerklje ob Krki to mark the conclusion of Leap 2020, the biggest military exercise this year. According to Defence Minister Matej Tonin, the exercise showed the Slovenian army is alive and well, and at the country's disposal.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protesters again took to the streets across Slovenia. In Ljubljana, some of the protesters entered the square outside the Parliament House, which had been fenced off completely, to read the Constitution. They were physically removed by riot police. Police, who estimated the number of protesters in Ljubljana at around 7,000, fined 27 attendants and 30 more were ID-ed.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian employers submitted requests for short-time work subsidies for 20,556 employees just a week after the scheme designed to help businesses weather the crisis came into effect, showed data by the Employment Service.
        LJUBLJANA - After a sharp drop in April amid the coronavirus lockdown, Slovenia's consumer confidence improved in June for the second month, rising by 9 percentage points compared to May, but still remaining 16 points below the long-term average. The indicator is now 29 points lower than in June 2019 and 26 points lower than last year's average.
        LJUBLJANA - The general meeting of Russian-owned steel maker SIJ unanimously decided to leave the entire least year's distributable profit of EUR 108.6 million undistributed.

SATURDAY, 20 June
        LJUBLJANA - Arguing "security situations are multiplying", Police Commissioner Anton Travner told the newspaper Dnevnik he saw no reason why the military would not operate in the country's interior, not just along the border. A day later, Chief of the General Staff, Brigadier-General Robert Glavaš argued for TV Slovenija not only against the use of the army inland but also against extending the army's powers on the border. He said the army had sufficient powers to help police on the border under existing legislation.
        LJUBLJANA - In his first longer comment on the new Janez Janša government, former President Milan Kučan told the newspaper Delo that some Slovenian politicians thought Slovenia should be turned into a "second republic" and that some elements of it could already be seen. Reversing Janša's use of the boiling frog fable, he said Slovenians could suddenly "wake up in boiling water, in a different country and a different system".
        LJUBLJANA - After the Slovenian Competition Protection Agency extended a Mercator shares confiscation to enforce a EUR 53.9 million anti-trust fine on Agrokor, the Ljubljana Local Court reduced the fine to EUR 1 million, the newspaper Dnevnik reported. The seizure of 70% of the Slovenian retailer's shares from the Croatian group has been among the obstacles preventing Mercator's transfer to Agrokor's successor Fortenova.

SUNDAY, 21 June
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry said Slovenia had had four diplomats vying for EU delegation heads around the world within the bloc's diplomatic service, but none managed to get nominated. The diplomats had applied for the posts of EU delegation head in Egypt, Iceland, Malaysia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo, the Foreign Ministry said, but did not name them. The ministry blames the failure to secure a high-level post on the failure of the ministry's previous leadership to lobby for the candidates.

MONDAY, 22 June
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw a surge in coronavirus cases as 13 out of 984 tests came back positive, the highest number of daily infections since 24 April. Six out of the 13 infections were imported and a further five were related to the imported cases. Mario Fafangel, the chief epidemiologist at the National Institute of Public Health, said Slovenia's epidemiological situation remained good. While the numbers were lower in the following days, the government reintroduced compulsory mask wearing in public indoor places and on public transport from 25 June.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - The grand chamber of the European Court of Justice held a hearing in a suit the European Commission had brought against Slovenia for accessing ECB documents as part of a police investigation at Slovenia's central bank regarding Slovenia's 2013 bank bailout. Slovenia's agent labelled the hearing "very positive" for the country.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg said after meeting in Ljubljana that they would do everything in their power so that the shared border was not closed again due to Covid-19.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša received Apostolic Nuncio Jean-Marie Speich. The pair confirmed the importance of ties between Slovenia and the Holy See. The confirmation of good relations came in the light of two approaching anniversaries: 30 years since the Holy See became the first country to recognise Slovenia's independence and 30 years since Slovenia and the Vatican signed a bilateral agreement on legal issues.
        LJUBLJANA - Companies in Slovenia generated EUR 4.625 billion in net profit last year, a 10% increase on 2018. Revenue was up 4% to EUR 103.892 billion, the Agency for Legal Records reported, assessing the economy was better prepared better for the crisis than for the crisis slightly over 10 years ago.

TUESDAY, 23 June
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Portuguese PM Antonio Costa agreed in a videoconference the EU and its member states must find solutions to the social crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. They also confirmed the priorities for the trio's upcoming EU presidency, their main goal being Europe's quick economic and social recovery.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor's office announced that Pahor and Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella would attend the 13 July return of National Hall in Trieste back to the Slovenian minority 100 years after being burnt down by Fascists. The pair will also lay wreaths at two memorials, one commemorating the Slovenian anti-fascists executed by Fascists in 1930 and the other the Italian victims of post-WWII killings by Partisans.
        ROME, Italy - In what was their second meeting in less than three weeks, Foreign Minister Anže Logar and Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio called for continued close bilateral cooperation in the tackling of the pandemic. After restrictions on the Slovenian-Italian border were lifted on 15 June for the citizens of both countries, the pair agreed that epidemiological trends at home as well as in other countries needed to be monitored closely.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced Tiffany Sadler had been appointed the new UK ambassador to Slovenia to succeed Sophie Honey in September. Sadler has worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 1994 and was director for Tech Overhaul Programme three until 2019.
        LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak praised the planned European Climate Law as a key step in creating a stable investment environment in the EU, as he took part in a video-conferenced ministerial.
        LJUBLJANA - Veronika Simoniti, 52, won the 30th Kresnik Prize for best novel of the year for Ivana Before the Sea (Ivana pred Morjem). She became only the fourth woman to win the prestigious award, given out by publisher Delo. The novel tells multiple parallel stories happening in different periods to different generations in one family.

WEDNESDAY, 24 June
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor addressed the state ceremony on the eve of Statehood Day in Ljubljana's Congress Square, urging acknowledging the role of democracy and dialogue in Slovenia's further development. The evening saw political divisions rise again with some boycotting the official ceremony and several thousand turning up for an alternative event in the nearby Prešeren Square shortly before the official festivity.
        LJUBLJANA - The government removed Montenegro and Luxembourg from the green list of Covid-19-safe countries from which arrivals face no restrictions, while adding Albania and Portugal to the list of red countries from where entry into Slovenia entails a mandatory two-week quarantine. New restrictions for all four countries apply from 25 June.
        LJUBLJANA - The government proposed extending the furlough scheme by at least a month until the end of July in amendments to the third stimulus package. Moreover, the changes provide the legal basis for a contact tracing app and for the government to assume the cost of quarantine again instead of companies. The government also further detailed the loan guarantee scheme to make it workable and tackle company liquidity problems.
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed and submitted to parliament a bill that would provide EUR 780 million for investment in the Slovenian Armed Forces between 2021 in 2026, the bulk for the acquisition of armoured personnel vehicles to set up a battalion battlegroup, plus an aircraft and two helicopters.
        LJUBLJANA - Members of the Slovenian Armed Forces serving in international operations and missions reported via video link to PM Janez Janša, who commended the commanders of contingents ahead of Statehood Day on keeping Slovenian soldiers safe and healthy at the time of increased risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development slightly upgraded its forecasts for Slovenia's economy for this year, now projecting a contraction of 7.6%, down from 8.1% forecast in May, to be followed by a 4.5% growth in 2021.
        LJUBLJANA - Addressing a Slovenian Bank Association conference on the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said banks should presently focus not so much on their profitability but on helping preserve jobs and companies in general. "A long-term perspective is needed," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - About a month after Slovenia emerged from coronavirus lockdown, data released by the Statistics Office showed tourism suffered a severe blow during the epidemic. The number of overnight stays in the first five months was 58.8% lower than in the same period last year, while in May, there was a 96.5% drop in guests over May 2019.
        LJUBLJANA - Restrictions in place to fight the coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia in April caused the biggest drop in revenue generated in the services sector since January 2000, when the Statistics Office first started recording service revenue data. Compared to March, revenue dropped by 19.5%, while year-on-year, it was down as much as 30.3%.
        LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia has grown for the second consecutive time in June, data released by the Statistics Office showed. The index increased by 8.7 percentage points (pp) to -24.0pp between May and June. Nevertheless, it was still 29.3pp lower than in June 2019 and 24.1pp lower than a years long average.
        LJUBLJANA - The prices of homes in Slovenia rose by 1.1% in the first quarter of the year over the previous one and by 5.5% year on year, but the number of transactions was lower and the number of used apartments sold was the lowest in the last five years, the Statistics Office said.

THURSDAY, 25 June
        LJUBLJANA, KAMNIK - Several events featuring state officials were held to mark Statehood Day, a public holiday. President Borut Pahor laid a wreath at the Monument to the Victims of All Wars in Congress Square and Defence Minister Matej Tonin attended a ceremony in Kamink.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The number of asylum requests filed in Slovenia increased by 33% to 3,820 last year, while the total increase in the EU was 11% to 738,425, showed an annual report published by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). There were 530 unresolved applications in Slovenia at the end of last year, a 30% increase on 2018.

All our posts in this series are here

20 Jun 2020, 13:08 PM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 12 June
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek survived a no-confidence motion the opposition had mounted against him over the government's poor handling of the procurement of vital equipment during the Covid-19 epidemic. 51 MPs voted against and 37 for his dismissal.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša indicated in a tweet that the May incident on the border with Italy when two soldiers stopped at gunpoint a civilian - a member of the Slovenian minority from Italy, had been orchestrated by representatives of "the deep state" in the prosecution, police and mainstream media, to discredit the army. The prosecution and the police denied any involvement, with the police adding that the information gathered so far did not confirm the "orchestration" allegation.
        LJUBLJANA - Several media outlets published a draft memorandum of understanding Slovenia would sign with the US on the security of 5G networks which highlights the importance of security standards. The document is seen as potentially limiting cooperation with Huawei.
        NEW YORK, US - Ratings agency Standard & Poor's affirmed Slovenia's AA- rating, arguing the Slovenian economy, coupled with the government's policy response, puts Slovenia in a good position to weather the Covid-19 crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Anton Travner, who has served as acting police commissioner since the new government took over in mid-March, was appointed for a full five-year term.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protesters, who have been voicing opposition to the government on Fridays for the past two months, left their bicycles and protested on foot. Seven of an estimated 5,000 protesters were arrested and fined for violations of public law and order after attempting to tear down a fence that established a security perimeter around Parliament House and after some jumped the fence.
        LJUBLJANA - The college of deputy group leaders adopted a long-overdue code of ethics for MPs in a bid to strengthen the National Assembly's reputation, integrity and public trust. The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption hailed it as a step in the right direction.
        LJUBLJANA - The Environment Agency issued a permit for hunters to cull 115 brown bears until September to manage the bear population.

SATURDAY, 13 June
        LJUBLJANA - Restrictions on international public road and railway transport, imposed on 16 March due to the coronavirus epidemic, were lifted.
        LJUBELJ - President Borut Pahor indicated he is considering a symbolic gesture of reconciliation with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella when they attend a ceremony on 13 July marking the centenary of the arson of the Slovenian National Hall in Trieste by Fascists. They might visit two sites in Basovizza near Trieste that have strong symbolic importance for Italy and the Slovenian community there.

MONDAY, 15 June
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša indicated in a TV interview that an European Commission lawsuit against Slovenia over European Central Bank (ECB) documents was hampering an ongoing police investigation in Slovenia, hence his recent query with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen about whether the Commission might drop the lawsuit.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia opened its border with Italy as the country was put on a list of countries whose citizens are free to cross into Slovenia without having to quarantine, as the last neighbouring country to make the list.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša indicated the government was willing to amend legislation to impose sanctions against militia groups such as the Štajerska Guard, but he told parliament in questions time that the existing legislation already allowed that, it was just not applied consistently.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar said in parliament that Slovenia is calling on Israel to "refrain from any unilateral decisions that would lead to the annexing of any of the occupied Palestinian territories and would as such run contrary to international law".
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Competition Protection Agency confirmed it had extended the temporary seizure of Mercator shares from the retailer's owner, Croatian group Agrokor, for six months. Agrokor has still not paid a EUR 53.9 million fine issued for its failure to notify the agency of the 2016 takeover of company Costella.
        VELENJE - Home appliances maker Hisense Gorenje decided to produce TV sets at the existing production facilities, having previously planned to build a new plant at its Velenje location. TV production is scheduled to start in early 2021.
        LJUBLJANA - An Italian military vehicle drove into Slovenian territory in the border town of Šempeter pri Gorici, but soon turned around and returned to Italy. The police said it was investigating the event and would notify the Foreign Ministry of its findings.

TUESDAY, 16 June
        LJUBLJANA - Master chef Ana Roš of Hiša Franko was awarded two Michelin stars, becoming the first chef in the region to win the accolade, in what is praised as a major achievements for Slovenian tourism. Another five restaurants received one star each, as restaurant guide Michelin launched its first guide to Slovenian restaurants.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs urged a prompt reform of the common asylum system as he discussed Slovenia's expectations from the EU's new migration and asylum pact, which the European Commission is to unveil at the end of July, with European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson in a video call. He reiterated Slovenia's position against migrant quotas.
        VIENNA, Austria - Foreign Minister Anže Logar was in Austria meeting his counterparts from Austria, Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia, who shared a view that the countries had cooperated very well during the coronavirus. Logar believes this has resulted in a new cooperation protocol among neighbours, which is an important European message.
        LAUSANNE, Switzerland - Slovenia rose two rungs in the latest IMD World Competitiveness Ranking to 35th among 63 countries, due to improvements in business and government efficiency, while sliding back in terms of economic performance over 2019.
        LJUBLJANA - In what is seen as a legal precedent, the Supreme Court said that provisions governing access to public information do not apply to judicial proceedings and case files. It said such access are governed by laws such as the criminal procedure act, the civil procedure act and the state prosecution service act. The Information Commissioner responded by stressing public oversight is crucial for the legal functioning of authorities, noting legislative changes may be needed.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a bill amending the penal code by imposing harsher penalties for persons organising illegal crossings of the border and for those helping illegal migrants reside in Slovenia. It also passed the governments-sponsored changes to the law on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing that transpose EU law.
        LJUBLJANA - Over 3,280 people tried to enter Slovenia illegally in the first five months of the year, down more than 25% over the same period last year, with almost 2,000 expressing the intention to request asylum in Slovenia, police data showed.
        LJUBLJANA - Collective (Colectiv), a film by Romanian director Alexander Nanau, won the Amnesty International Slovenije award at the 22nd Documentary Film Festival. The documentary draws the viewer into the turmoil of fearless investigative journalism targeting systemic corruption in Romania.

WEDNESDAY, 17 June
        LJUBLJANA - The 15th Bled Strategic Forum, Slovenia's premier foreign policy conference, will be a one-day event this year owing to the coronavirus epidemic, it was announced. It will be held on 31 August under the title Challenges and Opportunities in the Post-COVID-19 World; Neighbours - Regions - Global World: Partners or Rivals?.
        LJUBLJANA - Bojana Beović, the head of the team advising the Health Ministry on coronavirus, urged reimposing stringent measures on the borders at once after an increase in new infections originating abroad, while PM Janez Janša warned new restrictions would be inevitable unless those in place were respected.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Geržina announced a shift to a more ambitious foreign policy as he said Minister Anže Logar will host a number of his counterparts for talks in Ljubljana in the coming weeks, at what was the first in a series of Geržina's regular monthly briefings.
        VRHNIKA - PM Janez Janša announced the government's effort to improve the status of soldiers and provide additional funds for military equipment. He said the Defence Ministry and the government were already working on solutions to improve the situation.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council, a government advisory body, said Slovenia's fiscal policy in 2019 was expansive although it should have been restrictive, considering the state of the economic cycle, as it released its assessment of compliance of the general government sector budgets with fiscal rules.
        LJUBLJANA - US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard told the STA in an interview that she had put economic development in the focus of her efforts, and would also like to encourage cooperation between Slovenian and US universities. While not commenting in detail on a potential agreement on 5G technology between the US and Slovenia, she said the memorandum of understanding mimics much of the EU toolbox which encourages EU member states to avoid unsafe 5G providers.
        RIJEKA, Croatia - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch visited the Slovenian minority in Croatia in what was her first day-long visit abroad. One of the topics discussed was how to engage young people in minority associations.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor conferred state decorations on physicist and researcher Boštjan Žekš and architect Boris Podrecca, both of whom received the Golden Order of Merit, whereas Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry's consular service, received the Order of Merit for his repatriation efforts during the epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The police are investigating eight persons suspected of threatening the safety of another person related to slogans carried at anti-government protests, notably Death to Janšism, Freedom to All. The police confirmed it was PM Janez Janša who reported the matter to the police on the basis of photos from the protests, which started during the epidemic. "Janšism" has come to imply policies advocated by Janša.

THURSDAY, 18 June
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to impose stricter rules for arrivals from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo effective on 19 June. The decision came after Slovenia saw the eleven new cases last week, and fifteen from Monday to Wednesday, following almost a month with very few or no new daily cases. The death toll remains at 109 since the last death was recorded on 31 May.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor warned MPs in a special address against any delays in securing Constitutional Court-ordered electoral reform, saying a situation could occur where it will not be possible to execute a legitimate election. "This would push our county into a constitutional crisis or even political chaos and must not happen," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - The government compiled a list of key investments that will be given priority treatment in administrative procedures so as to help kick-start the economy. The list currently features 187 investments worth EUR 7.7 billion and will be updated on an ongoing basis, Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia could achieve the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence by 2026 after having laid out plans to invest EUR 780 million in defence over the next six years, Defence Minister Matej Tonin said after a two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers. The law securing the investment funds might be adopted by the government next week.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia presently has 680 medical ventilators, 439 of which are suitable for Covid-19 treatment, Health Minister Matjaž Gantar told the press as confusion about the ventilator numbers continued in recent weeks. This is by far above the number of intensive care beds as well as properly trained staff.
        STRASBOURG, France - Slovenia released 16% of its prisoner population during the coronavirus outbreak, one of the highest rates in Europe, a Council of Europe report showed.
        HOČE - The automotive multinational Magna decided against reopening its car paint shop near Maribor for now an instead announced it would reassign the bulk of what are around 200 workers at the new Slovenian location to its facility in Graz, Austria. Media reports suggest the plant will not reopen this year.
        LJUBLJANA - Mila Haugova, one of the most esteemed and prolific Slovak poets, was declared the winner of this year's Vilenica Prize for Central European literature. The award will be presented at the conclusion of the 35th Vilenica International Literary Festival in September.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislation proclaiming 23 September Slovenian Sports Day. The new public holiday will not be a work-free day.

All our posts in this series are here

13 Jun 2020, 11:20 AM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 5 June
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Seven EU members, the Visegrad four - Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia, addressed a letter to the European Commission expressing their resolute opposition to compulsory relocation of migrants among EU countries. Slovenia joining the group is seen as a significant shift in policy.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs argued at a videoconference of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council that the epidemiological situation of third countries and reciprocity must be taken into account to the largest possible extent when opening the EU's borders. Slovenia is keen to open borders to citizens from the Western Balkans.
        LJUBLJANA - A Jesenice primary school year-two class was placed under quarantine for two weeks after one of the pupils tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The pupil's mum, a nurse at the Jesenice general hospital, tested positive the day before. A small cluster of cases subsequently developed there, with at least one hospital patient contracting coronavirus.
        LJUBLJANA - Commenting on current mass protests and widespread unrest in the US, US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda C. Blanchard said that those responsible for the death of George Floyd would be held accountable. "None are above the law, and those responsible for this tragedy will face justice," Blanchard was quoted as saying in a press release.
        LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry ordered "extraordinary systemic oversight" at eleven care homes around the country to establish whether the elderly received adequate medical treatment during the Covid-19 epidemic. The oversight will be carried out by the Medical Chamber and the Chamber of Nurses and Midwives.
        LJUBLJANA - While the government has estimated that the third stimulus package to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus fallout will cost the budget around one billion euro, the Fiscal Council said its first estimate was only EUR 561 million or 1.2% of Slovenia's GDP. The central bank later estimated the stimulus effect of three legislative packages at 5% of GDP.

SATURDAY, 6 June
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will open its border with Italy very soon, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said as he hosted his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio for the first meeting in person after several video calls during the epidemic. Though not naming a date, Logar repeated several times that he looked forward to 15 June with optimism.
        KOČEVSKI ROG - Victims of summary executions conducted after WWII were remembered with a ceremony in Kočevski Rog, an area in south Slovenia where multiple mass graves have been discovered. Prime Minister Janez Janša and President Borut Pahor delivered keynote addresses.

SUNDAY, 7 June
        LJUBLJANA - A poll commissioned by the private broadcaster Nova24TV showed the ruling Democratic Party (SDS) topping the party ratings with a nine-percentage-point lead. The SDS polled at 23.6% and the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) at 15%, followed by the fellow opposition Social Democrats (SD), at 9.2%.
        CELJE - The magazine Demokracija reported that the headquarters of the local committee of the ruling SDS in Celje had been defaced by insulting graffiti, reading 'Orban d.o.o.' (Orban Ltd), and 'We don't want Hungarian dictatorship'. The word 'Fascists' was written with chalk on the pavement in front of the building.

MONDAY, 8 June
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's central bank forecast that Slovenia's economy is to contract by 6.5% this year before it bounces back to 4.9% growth in 2021 and 3.6% in 2022. In line with the two alternative scenarios that factor in the gravity of the coronavirus crisis, the economy would contract by just 4% this year and expand by over 7% in the next two years; or contract by 10% this year, followed by stagnation in 2021 and a slow recovery in 2022.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia fully opened its borders to nationals of 14 more countries. Apart from neighbouring Austria, Croatia and Hungary, the list now also includes Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland. Citizens of other EU and Schengen zone countries are still subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival unless they fall under one of what are now 16 exemptions.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Social Democrats (SD) announced a motion of no confidence in Interior Minister Aleš Hojs after the ministry overturned a ban of a concert by Marko Perković Thompson, a Croatian singer glorifying the fascist Ustasha regime. The other three left-leaning opposition parties declared support for the ouster. The concert organiser decided against holding the concert in the near future, quoting the ban on gatherings of more than 200 people.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar held a virtual meeting with his North Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov to call for further enhancement of bilateral relations and discuss the current situation and efforts of both countries related to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian and Italian defence ministers, Matej Tonin and Lorenzo Guerini, praised bilateral cooperation in defence and explored the potential for its further strengthening in a video call. They also discussed close cooperation within NATO and shared a view the two countries cooperated successfully in international missions and operations.
        LJUBLJANA - Support for the ruling Democrats (SDS) grew by two percentage points and a half to 18.8% in the past month, whereas the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) lost two percentage points to 11.8% in the latest Mediana poll for the newspaper Delo.
        LJUBLJANA - Three coalition parties filed legislative changes under which children who skipped mandatory vaccinations could not be enrolled in publicly-funded kindergartens and schools, and those without all mandatory shots could not work in healthcare or at care homes or study and train for these professions. The changes would allow exceptions for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
        
TUESDAY, 9 June
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's exports dropped by 28.8% in April on the year before, the sharpest contraction since 2008, while imports plummeted by 41.2%, the Statistics Office said. The trend was driven by a decline in car trade, which shrank by about three-quarters compared to last April.
        LJUBLJANA - State secretaries from Slovenia, Portugal and Germany discussed the priorities of the countries' successive stints chairing the EU Council in a videoconference, agreeing those would be strongly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. PM Janez Janša also indicated this in his an address to a meeting of ambassadors of EU countries, Western Balkans and Turkey, held as part of Croatia's EU presidency.
        LJUBLJANA - The next summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process of cooperation in the Western Balkans, marking the 10th anniversary of the initiative, will take place on 29 June at Brdo, the office of President Borut Pahor said, noting that chances were good that the leaders of all the participating countries - Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo - would attend.
        LJUBLJANA - Chinese Ambassador to Slovenia Wang Shunqing told the STA a new opportunity to deepen the relations between Slovenia and China will be the 17+1 initiative summit in Beijing. Wang expects that the good bilateral relations, which were confirmed by the visit by Foreign Minister Wang Yi last December, will continue under the Janez Janša government. The ambassador also hopes Slovenia will be pragmatic in picking 5G technology.
        LJUBLJANA - The four left-leaning opposition parties filed an ouster motion against Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, their second against a minister since the Janez Janša government was sworn in in mid-March, over the ministry's decision to override a ban on a concert by controversial Croatian singer Marko Perković Thompson.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj assessed the estimate of funds Slovenia is to receive as part of the EU's anti-coronavirus measures - around EUR 5 billion - as "adequate" and expressed hope the European Commission will stick to these estimates.

WEDNESDAY, 10 June
        LJUBLJANA - The OECD presented its latest forecast for Slovenia, expecting a 7.8% drop in GDP this year, or as much as 9.1% in the event of a second wave of coronavirus infections. For 2021, the OECD expects that Slovenia's economy will grow by 4.5%, or by 1.5% in the event of another Covid-19 outbreak.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Coalition partners agreed that a bill on the establishment of a demographic fund is to be drafted in the coming weeks, and discussed in parliament no later than September. All state assets would be transferred onto the new fund.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar announced his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg would visit Slovenia on 22 June. Logar also told the Foreign Policy Committee that he believes there are no sound reasons for Austria to continue with border checks it introduced five years ago.
        LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec called for a greater involvement of regional construction companies in the EUR 1 billion-plus project of the new Koper-Divača rail track after the state-run company managing the project, 2TDK, decided to enter negotiations with ten of the 15 bidders that responded to an international call to tender for the main construction work, including several Chinese and Turkish companies, aside from builders from Slovenia, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.
        LJUBLJANA - Alojz Kovšca was re-elected the president of the National Council, as members of the upper chamber of parliament met half way into their five-year term to elect its leadership. Kovšca, serving since December 2017, was the only candidate for the top job at the upper chamber.
        
THURSDAY, 11 June
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek looked on track to surviving the ouster motion filed against him by four opposition parties over opaque ventilator and PPE purchases at a marathon debate. The coalition backed him, speaking of an unjustified political attack on a minister who did well in chaotic conditions, while the opposition spoke of war profiteering.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to an appeal by European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni for explanation over the dismissal of the Statistics Office's director, by tweeting that the government had replaced a "political appointee as Statistics Office head with an expert with 30 years of experience in this Office" and that he hoped this was the last time the commissioner played a political game for Slovenian left. SocDems' leader and MEP Tanja Fajon said this damaged Slovenia's reputation.
        LJUBLJANA - Nearly two weeks before the first oral hearing is scheduled at the European Court of Justice in a lawsuit the European Commission has brought against Slovenia over a 2016 seizure of European Central Bank documents, PM Janez Janša moved to have the Commission withdraw the lawsuit. While media reported of his proposal for a settlement, Janša said he checked whether the Commission would drop the suit.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces and Defence Minister Matej Tonin came under significant pressure over an incident that reportedly happened on the border with Italy in May in which a civilian was stopped at gunpoint by two Slovenian soldiers, who patrolled the area looking for illegal migrants. The army vowed to help investigate the case.
        LJUBLJANA - After a week and a half of no new Covid-19 fatality and only six patients still in hospital the government decided to further ease coronavirus restrictions, so public gatherings of up to 500 people, including at sports events, will be allowed as of 15 June, and international public road and railway transport will also resume soon.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided Slovenia will accept four unaccompanied minors, under 10 years, seeking asylum to help divide the asylum burden between Greece and EU members.

All our posts in this series are here

05 Jun 2020, 19:45 PM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 29 May
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed the third economic stimulus package, valued at roughly a billion euro. The legislation brings a subsidised short-time work scheme until the end of the year and a one-month extension of the existing furlough scheme until the end of June for all employers. All Slovenian permanent residents will also get vouchers to spend on tourist accommodation in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed an emergency law aimed at accelerating major investments to help the economy. The government will draw up a list of 50-odd investments which will be handled as a matter of priority in granting construction permits and other approvals.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislation under which Slovenia will support the EU SURE instrument to mitigate unemployment risks across the EU with up to EUR 88.1 million in loan guarantees. The scheme is designed to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic's massive negative impact on the European job market.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's GDP decreased by a slower-than-expected 2.3% in the first three months of 2020 year-on-year due to a slowdown in domestic consumption and external demand. Seasonally- and working days-adjusted GDP contracted by 4.5% compared to the last quarter of 2019 and by 3.4% year-on-year, the Statistics Office said.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor proposed that the National Assembly take a vote on Barbara Zobec and Andraž Teršek for one vacancy on the Constitutional Court, as the nine-year term of Dunja Jadek Pensa runs out on 14 July. Statements by parliamentary factions suggest Teršek enjoys broader support, since Zobec was unequivocally endorsed only by the ruling Democrats (SDS).
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar underlined good relations between Slovenia and Norway in a phone conversation with his Norwegian counterpart Ine Eriksen Soreide as well as Slovenia's interest in further strengthening economic cooperation with Norway.
        LJUBLJANA - Several thousand people flooded the streets of the capital Ljubljana for what is the sixth Friday in a row that protesters, most of them on bicycles, expressed opposition to government policies. Smaller crowds also gathered in other cities around the country. After a minor altercation with police, six persons were fined.
        LJUBLJANA - After two months and a half of severe air traffic restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, regular passenger transport services resumed at Ljubljana airport. The first flight was operated by Air Serbia. More airlines are expected to start operating Ljubljana flights from mid-June.

SATURDAY, 30 May
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry amended a decree on quarantine requirement for people coming to Slovenia from third countries by adding new exemptions, including Slovenian citizens and foreigners with a permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia, persons attending a relative's funeral, those coming for a medical procedure, and those transiting Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor expressed concern in an interview with the weekly Nedelo that the growing economic and social crisis will increase people's distress and that the anti-government protests will intensify as a result. This is why he believes the government should hear the protesters' messages and restore cooperation with the opposition.

SUNDAY, 31 May
        AJDOVŠČINA - Slovenian ultralight aircraft maker Pipistrel announced a special version of its plane had have joined the US Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) fleet as low-cost, high-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles. The company said its airframes were being equipped with sensors to collect video and signals intelligence.

MONDAY, 1 June
        LJUBLJANA - Most lockdown measures were relaxed as the Covid-19 epidemic was declared officially over. Large accommodation facilities, spas, gyms and pools were allowed to reopen, although most large hotels said they would do so gradually. Public gatherings of up to 200 persons were permitted, and primary school pupils from grade four started returning to classrooms.
        LJUBLJANA - Due to an increased number of migrants heading west on the Balkan migration route, acting Police Commissioner Anton Travner ordered expanded surveillance of the border with Croatia. The beefed up border policing will be in force between 2-5 June, involving an additional 1,000 police officers.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia assumed the one-year chairmanship of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative and of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region. The main focus of the country's chairmanship of both forums will be green cooperation, the Western Balkans and EU enlargement.
        LJUBLJANA - The government extended by three months the 15-month period in which persons of Slovenian descent brought from Venezuela have the status of a repatriated person. The extension, which is part of the latest legislative package to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, applies to those Venezuelan Slovenians who arrived in Slovenia between 13 November 2019 and 12 March this year.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša announced a major digitalisation effort that would accompany the cutting of red tape in the public administration, telling Nova24TV that the first major steps should be taken this year. "Modern technologies make it possible to speed up procedures," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian frontline staff got an unprecedented thank you for their work during the coronavirus epidemic as military planes and US fighter jets conducted a flypast of the entire country, the first day after the formal end of the epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Janez Kocijančič, the long-serving Slovenian sports official who was also active in politics and business, died at the age of 78. He had headed the European Olympic Committees since 2017 and served as the head of the Slovenian Olympic Committee between 1991 and 2014.

TUESDAY, 2 June
        MARIBOR - It was revealed that a pupil at the Ludvik Pliberšek Primary School in Maribor tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in what was the first positive case among children after they started returning to school on 18 May. The 17 classmates of the infected third-grader, who was asymptomatic, and their teacher were sent into a two-week quarantine, while the remaining pupils at the school were allowed to continue going to class.
        LJUBLJANA - The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) rejected the offer for a partnership agreement on key legislation proposed by PM Janez Janša, joining the other left-leaning opposition parties in opposing the proposal which is now seems to be supported only by the National Party (SNS). Janša said the government had extended an offer of cooperation of the kind his party never received while in opposition.
        LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Tomaž Besek and Mitja Križaj as non-executive directors on the management board of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) and appointed Alenka Urnaut Ropoša and Boris Novak to replace them, serving from 3 June until the end of 2022. The government provided no explanation for the replacements.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia purchased EUR 54.4 million worth of protective equipment through the national Agency for Commodity Reserves during the epidemic. Between 14 March and 31 May, the agency signed 64 contracts worth EUR 184 million, which includes contracts that were subsequently annulled or not realised, shows data released by the agency.
        RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Slovenia pledged EUR 20,000 in an online donor conference for Yemen, launched by the Saudi Arabia and the UN. The conference aims to get pledges for US$2.4 billion to ensure humanitarian aid to the war-torn country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The Hungarian channel TV2, whose owner is associated with the Fidesz party, and Croatian entrepreneur Ivan Ćaleta are bidding to purchase Planet TV, the troubled subsidiary of telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije which produces the eponymous TV channel, reported web portal Necenzurirano, citing an unofficial source.
        LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court upheld the decision of the Slovenian Environment Agency that an environmental impact assessment is needed before any permits can be issued for hydraulic fracturing planned by British company Ascent Resources at the Petišovci gas field in the north-east of Slovenia, the company said.

WEDNESDAY, 3 June

        LJUBLJANA - Italy opened its borders to all EU citizens, and Austria announced the opening of its borders for 4 June, decisions that mean Slovenians are now allowed to travel to all neighbouring countries. Slovenia welcomed the development.
        LJUBLJANA - After a significant uptick in joblessness in March and April due to the Covid-19 crisis, the trend slowed down in May, as the jobless total was up by only 2% on the monthly level to 90,415. Compared to May 2019, the figure was meanwhile up by 18,403 or 25.6%, the Employment Service said.
        LOŠKA DOLINA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin set out a plan to invest EUR 780 million in defence over the next six years as he joined President Borut Pahor for the viewing of a military exercise dubbed Leap 2020 in Babno Polje in the south of the country.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Justice Committee endorsed changes to the penal code, raising the penalties for migrant smugglers and those involved in illegal migration. The penalty for migrant smugglers would thus increase from five years to three to ten years in prison.
        LJUBLJANA - The Statistics Council asked the Constitutional Court to review the controversial dismissal of Bojan Nastav as the general director of the national Statistics Office. Nastav was dismissed under the public sector employees act, but some jurists believe this is unlawful since the Statistics Office is governed by a special act.
        LJUBLJANA - The four centre-left opposition parties urged Milan Krek to resign as director of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) after he failed to provide an answer at a government press briefing as to whether face masks are mandatory at shopping malls. The parties also urged action from Health Minister Tomaž Gantar.

THURSDAY, 4 June
        LJUBLJANA - The government put Austria on a list of countries whose citizens are free to enter Slovenia without restrictions from midnight, a move that comes after Austria opened its borders for all neighbours bar Italy. Government coronavirus spokesman Jelko Kacin said the National Institute of Public Health is keeping a close eye on the situation and analysing when restrictions might be lifted.
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek confirmed that his State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti is leaving the ministry. Cantarutti intended to leave before the change of government but was willing to stay on until the end of the Covid-19 epidemic, Počivalšek said.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor's entire advisory committee on climate change resigned in protest against Pahor's lack of response to recent legislative measures restricting the involvement of NGOs in environmental assessment and building permits procedures.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Bureau of Investigation conducted house searches in connection to the bankruptcy of the air carrier Adria Airways. Unofficially, police were looking into suspected abuse of office and business fraud.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary foreign policy and EU affairs committees rejected the opposition's criticism of Foreign Minister Anže Logar's disparaging comments on the judiciary that he had attached to Slovenia's report for the European Commission's first annual rule of law report. The coalition majority instead condemned a letter sent to the Commission by the MEPs of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) which accused Logar of promoting the ruling party's views.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed former criminal police officer Anton Olaj a new state secretary at the Interior Ministry as on 8 June. Olaj served in the police force from 1981, when he joined a police station in Ljubljana, to 2012, when he finished his police career as Novo Mesto Police Department director.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Composers' Association presented the Kozina Award for 2020 to Bor Turel, one of the pioneers of electroacoustic and experimental music in Slovenia. Turel was honoured for his all-round oeuvre of electroacoustic music.
        LJUBLJANA - Ding Dong Zgodbe (Ding Dong Stories) by Jana Bauer, illustrated by Bojana Dimitrovski, has won the Desetnica Prize for the best children's and youth book of the last three years. The book was published in 2018.

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