Ljubljana related

30 May 2020, 13:00 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, 22 May
        PIRAN - The Slovenian and Croatian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Gordan Grlić Radman, had their first meeting in person. They discussed the reopening of borders but offered no specific solutions as yet.
        LJUBLJANA - Austria remains rather inflexible about reopening its border with Slovenia, although Slovenia's epidemiological situation is the same or even better than Austria's, Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Geržina told the STA.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda highlighted the role of a joint European response to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic in the EU as they spoke over the phone.
        LJUBLJANA - The cycling protests against the government's actions and policies continued for the fifth Friday running, with several thousands protesters reported again in Ljubljana. PM Janša lashed out against the protesters by comparing them to the self-styled paramilitary units or nationalist home guards that recently made headlines, arguing both were extremely offensive to the police.
        LJUBLJANA/LONDON, UK - Speaking to the BBC on 21 May, Slovenian PM Janez Janša said that tourism was the mainstay of Slovenia's economy and announced that the season would kick off on 1 June, and assured that holidaying in Slovenia would be safe in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - The energy group Petrol saw its sales revenue drop by 15% year on year to EUR 916 million in the first quarter, due to lower prices and a drop in the sale of petroleum products. Still, net profit of the group was up 20% to EUR 21.8 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The central bank amended the rules for calculating creditworthiness, allowing banks to exclude the months with temporary lower income of their clients from creditworthiness calculations.
        LJUBLJANA - As many as 66% of those polled by market research agency Aragon are against coronavirus contact-tracing apps, labelling them a harsh encroachment on privacy and a violation of human rights. Some 31% meanwhile consider them a necessary measure to contain the spread of the virus.

        LJUBLJANA - Bojana Beović, the head of the Health Ministry advisory task force for coronavirus, told the STA that all efforts should be directed at preventing another nation-wide lockdown if a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic occurs.
        LJUBLJANA - Although the party is well below the parliament threshold in recent surveys, coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) president Zdravko Počivalšek believes that the threshold is reachable even if elections were held now.
        LJUBLJANA - Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) president Aleksander Čeferin told the newspaper Dnevnik that football with fans in the stands could hopefully return by the autumn. He also denied speculations that he was interested in entering politics.

SUNDAY, 24 May
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor told commercial broadcaster POP TV that self-styled uniformed village guards or militias should not be allowed in Slovenia. He thinks such activities should be banned by law.
        AJDOVŠČINA - Bia Separations, a Slovenian biotechnology company, announced it would expand its production facilities in Ajdovščina and Italy's Gorizia due to increased demand. The company's investment plans to launch production in the US have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will go ahead as soon as possible.

MONDAY, 25 May
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs discussed the opening of the border with his Austrian counterpart Karl Nehammer, with the latter saying that Austria was worried that Italians and illegal migrants would enter Austria via Slovenia and Croatia. LJUBLJANA - In his first questions time in parliament since taking office in March, Prime Minister Janez Janša told MPs there was not enough money in the budget to compensate for all losses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic, but that the government could mitigate the consequences to the greatest extent possible. He said no major cuts into people's income was planned.
        LJUBLJANA/TRIESTE, Italy - The Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) denied its member being involved in an incident near the border with Italy in early May after the Trieste-based newspaper Primorski Dnevnik reported that a dual Slovenian-Italian citizen had been stopped at gunpoint by a man in a military uniform in the Hrpelje-Kozina community.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the weekly Reporter that he expects the authorities to take action against the organisers of the mass anti-government protests on bicycles.
        LJUBLJANA - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj and Health Minister Tomaž Gantar defended action to contain the spread of coronavirus at care homes in parliament as the opposition sought answers about the high proportion of Covid-19 fatalities at care homes and about media reports that care home residents had allegedly been listed as to who should get hospital treatment and who not if infected. Gantar denied the existence of such lists.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced potential changes to tax legislation and media funding as he gave a weekly interview with the private broadcaster Nova24TV. He said, however, that fast tax cuts could not be made due to the coronacrisis and said the Culture Ministry was already working on changes to public broadcaster funding.
        LJUBLJANA - The Covid-19 lockdown meant Slovenia recorded no tourist arrivals in April, while the number of recorded overnight stays was 11,000. This is 99% less that in April 2019 and was mostly accounted for by ongoing student exchange programmes.
        LJUBLJANA - A sharp increase in Slovenia's registered unemployment total caused by the coronavirus crisis was brought to a halt last week with the weekly figure rising only by 59 to 90,272 compared to the previous week, according to interim data from the Employment Service.
        LJUBLJANA - After plummeting by an unprecedented 35.8 percentage points in April, business sentiment in Slovenia improved somewhat in May, with the relevant index standing at -33.1 percentage points, or 6.5 points higher than in April and 40.8 percentage points lower year-on-year.
        LJUBLJANA - Electricity consumption in Slovenia declined by 15% year-on-year in April, the first full month of coronavirus lockdown, and by 19% compared to March, an indication of a sharp decline in economic activity, Statistics Office data show.

        LJUBLJANA - The government added new exemptions to the quarantine requirement for EU and Schengen zone citizens that in effect allow citizens from across the EU to enter the country as tourists, as long as they have a confirmation of booking. The same applies to owners of property in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs talked over the phone with his Maltese counterpart Byron Camilleri. While the latter urged Slovenia to help with the relocation of migrants rescued at sea, Hojs said Slovenia's capacities were full and it could not do that at present.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia pledged a humanitarian contribution of EUR 10,000 as part of an international donor conference in solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
        LJUBLJANA - In the first four months of 2020, the Slovenian police recorded 2,394 illegal crossings of the border, which is almost 25% less than in the same period last year. The decline is at least partially a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and the related stricter measures on the border.
        LJUBLJANA - The government received a letter from the Green 10, a coalition of ten of the largest environmental NGOs in Europe, which expresses concern over pending legal provisions limiting the involvement of NGOs in environmental permit procedures.
        LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Small Business (OZS) called on the government to start working on a fourth stimulus package to help the industries that have not been covered in the third stimulus package.
        LJUBLJANA - Culture workers covered the front of the building housing the Ministry of Culture with hundreds of pieces of paper with appeals for action to help the sector hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic as part of a protest targeting what the organisers described as the ministry's silence and inaction.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia placed seventh according in the 2020 KidsRights Index, released by the KidsRights Foundation, an international children's aid and advocacy NGO. The country received 0.897 points overall, chalking up the highest score in protection and the lowest in the child rights environment category.

        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia will be eligible to receive EUR 5.071 billion from the EU's coronavirus recovery plan, according to European Commission documents. It will be able to receive EUR 2.579 billion in grants and EUR 2.492 billion in loans.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a set of changes limiting the involvement of environmental NGOs in administrative and court proceedings. Under the changes, public interest status will be recognised only for groups with at least 50 members, at least EUR 10,000 of assets, at least two fully employed persons who have tertiary education level degrees and two years of experience in environmental protection.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry would not comment on a new remembrance day declared by the Trieste city council. The Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ), one of the central organisations of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy, said the holiday was divisive and "reviving old conflicts".
        LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin spoke with his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer via videolink to express satisfaction with the countries' cooperation in defence and look for opportunities to strengthen it further.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament confirmed Klemen Podobnik as the candidate for one of two Slovenian judges at the EU's General Court in Luxembourg. The remaining two nominees, Jure Vidmar and Nina Savin Bossiere, failed to secure the absolute majority required.
        LJUBLJANA - Marko Bošnjak, one of the five vice-governors of Slovenia's central bank, tendered his resignation in the aftermath of accusations that he evaded taxes on rental income.
        LJUBLJANA - Heads of the parliamentary deputy groups and parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič discussed reforming the electoral law, with a majority agreeing that the relevant ministry should be tasked with drafting proposals for redefining the electoral districts. A day later Zorčič and President Borut Pahor urged all stakeholders to find a solution by December.
        LJUBLJANA - Retail sales plunged by 22.6% year-on-year in April to the lowest level since 2006, show fresh Statistics Office data. At the monthly level the decline was 8.8%, following a 12% contraction in March.

        LJUBLJANA - Dejan Židan resigned as the leader of the opposition Social Democrats. Vice-president Tanja Fajon, an MEP, will run the party for the time being at his request. Židan said he saw the change of leadership as an opportunity for the party to gain in the polls.
        DOLGA VAS - Slovenia and Hungary lifted restrictions on the crossing of state border for the citizens of both countries based on a favourable epidemiological situation in both countries. The announcement came after talks between the Slovenian and Hungarian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Peter Szijjarto.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided that primary schools would open in full next week. It also allowed the gathering of up to 200 people. Hotels, gyms and spas will also open on Monday. The only establishments that will remain closed are night clubs.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Labour Committee okayed the EUR 1 billion third stimulus package, which provides a short-time work scheme and support to the tourism sector, primarily in the form of tourist vouchers for all residents.
        LJUBLJANA - The SID Banka export and development bank has secured EUR 200 million in liquidity loans and another EUR 150 million in insurance and re-insurance deals to sole traders, SMEs and big companies as well as cooperatives during the Covid-19 epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The retail group Mercator generated EUR 1.1 million in net profit in the first quarter of 2020 after a net loss of EUR 3.7 million in the same period last year. Revenue increased by 10.8% to top EUR 530.48 million.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission increased more than five-fold the Just Transition Mechanism funds for Slovenia, from EUR 92 million to EUR 538 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Ernest Petrič, a seasoned diplomat and former Constitutional Court judge who is currently an adviser to President Borut Pahor, was named by the government as Slovenia's member of the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, for a four-year term.

All our posts in this series are here

23 May 2020, 08:25 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, 15 May
        LJUBLJANA - A decree entered into force that allowed EU residents to cross into Slovenia from Austria, Italy and Hungary at pre-determined checkpoints without restrictions. The decree was subsequently amended so that only citizens of EU and Schengen zone countries with which bilateral technical agreements are reached will be allowed to cross without restriction. Meanwhile, Slovenians who own real estate in Croatia queued for hours to cross the border as quarantine upon return to Slovenia was abolished.
        PTUJ - Meeting for talks, President Borut Pahor and his Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanović praised what they labelled as excellent cooperation between the two countries in their response to the coronavirus pandemic and easing of travel restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition heaped criticism on the government over its decision to declare the end of the coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia as of 31 May, saying that the move had been motivated by financial reasons. Similar concern was expressed by trade unions, while employers welcomed the decision but warned the measures to help businesses should be expanded.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and his Greek counterpart Katerina Sakellaropoulou underscored the importance of the EU's unity as they discussed the response to the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout in a videoconference. The Greek president congratulated Slovenia on declaring an end of the epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Marking Slovenian Army Day in memory of the 29th anniversary since training of first Slovenian soldiers started, President Borut Pahor as the supreme commander stressed the importance of the Slovenian Armed Forces, in particular in the face of a changing world. Defence Minster Matej Tonin announced efforts to secure more funding, while the army launched a media campaign in en effort have more people enlist. In a written address on the occasion, PM Janez Janša blamed former governments for the army's problems.
        LJUBLJANA - Supporting a revival of the Middle East peace process as EU foreign ministers discussed the issue, Slovenia's Anže Logar called for strengthening the EU's dialogue with all key players, Israel, Palestine, the US and relevant Arab countries, to implement the common interest of lasting peace and stability in the region.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar held a meeting with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod by videolink for talks on bilateral relations, response to the crisis provoked by the coronavirus pandemic and EU affairs. The pair called for enhancing bilateral cooperation further.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry marked the 65th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty by underscoring that Slovenia is an indisputable signatory to the treaty as a successor to the former Yugoslavia, one of the original signatories. In a letter to his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg, FM Anže Logar called for full implementation of Article 7, which deals with the rights of the Slovenian minority.
        LJUBLJANA - The government opted to close an agreement with the UN Office for Project Services on the delivery of the Japanese anti-influenza medicine called favipiravir for clinical trials in treatment of Covid-19 patients. Slovenia is one of the first countries worldwide to get the medicine, known commercially as Avigan, which is not available on the market yet.
        KRANJ - Telecoms equipment maker Iskratel launched a test network featuring 5G technology at its production facility in cooperation with Telekom Slovenije to explore new business models.
        LJUBLJANA - Despite the ban on public gatherings, several thousand took part in anti-government bicycle protests in Slovenian cities for the fourth week running. The biggest protest was held in Ljubljana.

        ORMOŽ - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović met for talks on the easing of restrictions on travel across the border, on illegal migration and Croatia's bid to join the Schengen zone.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and Lojze Peterle, prime minister of the DEMOS government (1990-92), urged cooperation and putting divisions aside as they marked the 30th anniversary since the government which led Slovenia to independence was endorsed in parliament.
        LJUBLJANA - In an interview with the newspaper Dnevnik, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec revealed that an infrastructure fund was in the making to finance investments into railways and roads, which would bring some EUR 180 million a year.
        LJUBLJANA - Data from the Financial Administration showed that Slovenia's revenue from VAT in March, when most shops closed as Slovenia went into lockdown on 16 March, dropped to EUR 187 million, down nearly 30% over February and 19% over March 2019. Overall tax revenue collected in April dropped by a quarter to EUR 1.2 billion.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and his counterparts from eleven other EU countries signed an appeal to the EU stating their joint interest in introducing a plan to revive the car industry, one of the EU sectors that has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

SUNDAY, 17 May
        LJUBLJANA - The Association of Veterans of the War for Slovenia marked the 30th anniversary of the rejection of an order to disarm Slovenian military units during independence efforts and the formation of the Tactical Line.
        SLOVENSKA BISTRICA - Some 50 members of the self-styled home guard calling themselves Štajerska Guard made a visit to the local police station demanding explanations why the police made a call to the owner of a plot where the militia held its camp. In response to calls for action from the opposition, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs asked the police commissioner to compile a report on the incident.
        LJUBLJANA - A poll by Mediana showed 38% of respondents saying Slovenia should have waited for developments in other countries before declaring the end of the coronavirus epidemic, against 27% who thought the reverse.

MONDAY, 18 May
        LJUBLJANA - The bulk of lockdown restrictions were lifted as children up to the age nine returned to schools and kindergartens, along with final-year secondary school students. All shops were allowed to reopen, including shopping malls, and bars and eateries were allowed to serve their patrons indoor as well. The ban on gatherings of up to 50 persons was also lifted. Social distancing still needs to be observed.
        LJUBLJANA - Croatia became the first country Slovenia put on a list of countries whose nationals may cross the border without limitations after the National Institute of Public Health assessed the coronavirus situation was similar in both countries. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek discussed border reopening with the corresponding Hungarian and Austrian ministers, saying the goal was to reopen borders with neighbouring countries in early June. In a videoconference with EU counterparts, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Slovenia was ready to welcome EU tourists in the coming weeks.
        LJUBLJANA - In an interview broadcast by Nova24TV, Prime Minister Janez Janša projected that Slovenia's economy would rebound to the pre-crisis level within a year provided his government stayed in office and correct measures were taken.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian automotive industry said it was seeing its worst crisis yet due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a 60% drop in production in April and a 50% fall in May. It urged a follow-up on stimulus measures to prevent job losses and bankruptcies.
        LJUBLJANA - The ruling coalition's majority in parliament was reduced to 46 out of 90 seats after MP Gregor Židan defected from the Modern Centre Party (SMC) to join the opposition Social Democrats (SD). This was three days after Jani Möderndorfer left the SMC for the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ).
        LJUBLJANA - The Vox Populi poll for the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer had the senior coalition Democratic Party (SDS) firmly in the lead at 22.1%, compared to 22.5% in April, as the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) in second gained 2.4 percentage points to 12.2%. The approval rating for the government fell to 47.3% from 65%.
        LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry reported having received 563 applications for asylum from January to the end of April, which compares to 1,111 at the same period last year.
        LJUBLJANA - Marko Elsner, one of the greatest Slovenian football players of all time, died at the age of 60 after battling a severe illness for several years.

        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša welcomed a German-French proposal for the EU to set up a EUR 500 billion fund to restart the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic, but said an even more ambitious approach would be needed given the extent of the crisis. Janša also discussed the issue with his Italian and Austrians counterparts.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar spoke about cooperation in the efforts to deal with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic in a videoconference with counterparts from Western Balkan countries, their neighbours in the EU and high EU representatives. He noted the importance of European solidarity, cooperation in the region and its close cooperation with the EU.
        TRIESTE, Italy - The Trieste-based newspaper Il Piccolo reported that the National Hall, which used to be the hub of Slovenian cultural life in the town, would be symbolically returned to the Slovenian community there at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the building's arson before its ownership was formally transferred to the community, a process that could take several years.
        NOVO MESTO - Revoz, the Slovenian subsidiary of the French car maker Renault, confirmed it was scrapping the plans to resume night shift due to a fall in global demand provoked by the coronavirus pandemic as a result of which over 400 jobs will be lost, mostly agency workers.
        HRASTNIK - Glass maker Steklarna Hrastnik announced plans to reduce its 700-strong workforce by almost a tenth by September, having recorded a severe contraction of demand.
        LJUBLJANA - Insurance group Sava posted a first-quarter net profit of EUR 10.3 million, down 5.6% year-on-year, as higher reinsurance claims and lower investment returns affected the bottom line despite a 17.3% increase in gross written premiums.
        LJUBLJANA - The energy group Gen-I reported record sales of 83.4 terawatt-hours of electricity for 2019 as revenue topped EUR 2.2 billion for a third year in a row. Net profit rose by 16% to exceed EUR 15 million for the first time ever.

        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a new economic stimulus package, which includes a subsidised short-time work scheme, vouchers for all citizens to be spent in tourism facilities in the country, and favourable liquidity loans. The package is worth around EUR 1 billion. To subsidise short-time work, Slovenia is to tap into the European Commission's SURE mechanism for EUR 900 million.
        LJUBLJANA - In reference to the new stimulus package, Prime Minister Janez Janša said in a video address to the nation that Slovenia's reputation as a safe and orderly country capable of protecting its citizens' health was the best recommendation both for tourism and investment.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an emergency bill to facilitate investment seen as key to kick-start the economy. Investments worth EUR 500 million in total will get priority treatment in all procedures, including administrative and judicial procedures. As eligible investments Economy Minister Andrej Vizjak listed major roads and railway tracks, including Koper-Divača track, hydro power plants and the Ljubljana passenger terminal.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - In a new set of recommendations issued to Slovenia as part of the European semester the European Commission called on the country to take all needed economic measures to support the recovery after the coronavirus epidemic, provide social protection, as well as resilient systems of healthcare and long-term care.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar told the Foreign Policy Committee that the reopening of borders with the neighbouring countries would depend on the epidemiological situation but that Slovenia would do all in its power to normalise the regime on its borders by 1 June.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar talked with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov about the Covid-19 pandemic and its fallout on the telephone. The pair also affirmed good bilateral relations.
        LJUBLJANA - Presenting the annual report on the judiciary, Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič was upbeat, as the backlog of pending cases was reduced to 133,000. The courts received 839,000 cases and resolved roughly 850,000. Resultion time is also getting shorter. To tackle the backlog formed during the lockdown, court summer recess will be halved to two weeks.
        LJUBLJANA - Almost a decade after police opened their first inquiries into the case, the prosecution filed an indictment over the controversial EUR 1 billion-plus generator project at the Šoštanj coal-fired power plant at the Celje District Court. Unofficially, French company Alstom and the former TEŠ boss Uroš Rotnik are among those indicted.

        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll rose to 105 by 20 May as daily number of new cases stayed had not increased by more than one for a week despite round 1,000 tests performed each day. The total by 20 May is 1,468 but only roughly 20 cases are estimated to remain active.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar urged close cooperation among EU members as they relax lockdown measures as he attended a meeting of ambassadors from EU countries accredited to Slovenia which was hosted by Croatian Ambassador to Slovenia Boris Grigić from the EU presiding country.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar held a phone conversation with his Canadian counterpart Francois-Philippe Champagne focusing on national measures to combat the coronavirus epidemic. The ministers emphasised the importance of cohesion and concerted action in transatlantic relations and in the international community in general.
        CELJE - After the Supreme Court quashed a guilty ruling in a defamation case brought against PM Janez Janša by a journalist over an insulting tweet, the Celje Higher Court rejected Janša's appeal in a separate case filed against him by the other journalist mentioned in the controversial tweet. The claim is for damages worth EUR 6,000.
        LJUBLJANA - The ZZZS, the fund collecting and managing mandatory health insurance, expects a shortfall of EUR 129 million by the end of the year due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The fund would like the loss to be offset by the national budget, or else healthcare funding could be suspended in December.
        NOVO MESTO - Pharma group Krka Group saw its net sales revenue increase by 22% year-on-year to EUR 462.9 million in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic pushed up the demand for its products. Net profit was up 21% to EUR 85.2 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer confidence somewhat improved in May, with the relevant index going up by five percentage points compared to April. It was however still 25 percentage points below the long-term average.

All our posts in this series are here

16 May 2020, 12:05 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.

        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll rose to a hundred on what was the second day in a row that only one new infection was detected in more than a thousand tests conducted that day.
        LJUBLJANA - Zvonko Černač, the minister responsible for cohesion policy, announced that EUR 280 million in EU funds would be redistributed to address pressing needs in healthcare, the economy, the labour market, development and education.
        LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR/KOPER - Several thousand protesters riding their bicycles in the centre of Ljubljana protested against measures the government has imposed during the coronavirus epidemic. While the ban on public assembly remains in place, cycling is allowed.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar held a video conference with his Spanish counterpart Arancha Gonzalez Laya. They confirmed mutual interest in further strengthening the friendly ties, also in the light of Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency and the coronavirus pandemic.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The EU Commission said it would soon deliver 30,000 medical face masks to Slovenia as part of a first shipment of such protective gear to help protect healthcare workers fighting Covid-19 on the front lines. On 14. May, PM Janša said the masks did not have the requisite certification.

        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša joined the leaders of other EU countries and the bloc's three key institutions for a joint video message on Europe Day, expressing belief that the EU should emerge more integrated, efficient and united from the Covid-19 crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar commented on Slovenian-Croatian relations in an interview with the newspaper Delo, airing the view that too much had been said but too little done about the relations. He indicated the coronavirus epidemic reset bilateral relations and suggested talks could resume after Croatia's elections.
        MARIBOR - Russian Ambassador Timur Rafailovic Eyvazov laid a wreath at the site of a former Nazi prison camp in memory of several thousand Russian prisoners of war who died there.
        LJUBLJANA - All medical and dental services were allowed to relaunch under restrictive conditions, in yet another easing of quarantine restrictions. Most but not all dentists resumed work on 11 May.

SUNDAY, 10 May
        LJUBLJANA, ZAGREB, Croatia - Slovenians with real estate or boats in Croatia were given a go-ahead to enter the country again without having to go into quarantine for two weeks, after about two months of restrictions imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus.

MONDAY, 11 May
        LJUBLJANA - Public transport started running again after nearly two months. Most operators provided limited service initially and only a portion of seats was available to secure observance of physical distancing recommendations.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly raised the ceiling for budget spending by EUR 2 billion due to the coronavirus epidemic. The changes were passed to pave the way for a supplementary budget.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar highlighted long procedures, failure to implement Constitutional Court rulings, biased judges and ineffective prosecution of bank crime in a letter supplementing an interministerial report on the rule of law the government sent to the EU Commission. Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlović said she did not deem Logar's comment necessary and the Supreme Court expressed surprise. The opposition demanded a parliamentary debate on the matter.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar and his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz agreed in a videoconference that bilateral as well as regional and panregional cooperation between the two countries should be further strengthened.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Discussing current issues, the four coalition parties announced that a third package of measures to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis would start to be drafted next week. The measures would be aimed at tourism, and would cut red tape.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial output in March, half of which was affected by measures to contain the coronavirus epidemic, was lowest since July 2017. Compared to February, industrial output in Slovenia was down by 10.7%, the largest monthly drop since November 2008.

        LJUBLJANA - The ban on international air passenger transport with Slovenia was lifted after almost two months of restrictions due to Covid-19, but air traffic was not expected to resume before June.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša made the case for confrontation with the media in an essay entitled War with the Media, in which he argued that keeping silent while media waged war against individuals was not an option and had damaging effects on society. His comments sparked protests by the opposition and media organisations.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar held a videoconference with his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok, discussing coordination of easing of anti-Covid-19 measures, Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency and strengthening economic cooperation.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Environment Committee approved changes to the nature conservation act that significantly limit the ability of NGOs to take part in administrative procedures representing public interest. Several hundred people protested the move.

        LJUBLJANA - The government said that Slovenia would see a major easing of quarantine restrictions on 18 May, when all shops and small hotels will reopen, as well as a number of other services. Schools were cleared to open as well and it was announced most sports would be relaunched on 23 May.
        LONDON, UK - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it expected Slovenia's economy to contract by 5.5% this year due to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, before rebounding to a 5% growth in 2021.
        GRAZ/KLAGENFURT, Austria - Austria reported it intended to open four more checkpoints on the border with Slovenia as it continued to ease measures adopted due to the coronavirus epidemic. The move will be coordinated with Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - The government formally called an end to the coronavirus epidemic based on the currently favourable epidemiological situation. The majority of public health measures remain in place and testing, contract tracing, isolation, quarantine for high-risk contacts, observance of caught etiquette and physical distancing would remain the key measures to fight the disease.
        LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit found a series of violations at Banka Slovenije between 2017 in 2018, releasing an adverse opinion. The report showed the central bank flouted regulations on hirings, employments, severance packages and public procurement. Governor Boštjan Vasle responded that the bank had addressed roughly half of the findings in the report.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša had separate conversations with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, focussing on responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor talked with his Georgian counterpart Salome Zourabichvili over the phone, discussing the novel coronavirus pandemic. They agreed that a great level of caution will be needed in the future so as to avoid more breakouts.
        LJUBLJANA - NLB generated EUR 18.3 million in net profit at group level in the first quarter, a 68% year-on-year decrease that Slovenia's largest bank said was the result of credit impairments and provisions formed due to the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Telecoms group Telekom Slovenije saw its net profit rise by 12% year-on-year to EUR 11.3 million in the first quarter of the year, as sales dropped by 2% to EUR 168.6 million. EBITDA was flat at EUR 56.4 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's leading insurance group, Triglav, reported EUR 26.4 million in pre-tax profit for the first quarter, a 12% year-on-year decrease that it primarily ascribes to several disaster events.
        LJUBLJANA/KLAGENFURT, Austria/TRIESTE, Italy - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch and representatives of Slovenian business in Austria and Italy discussed the need to nurture cross-border cooperation and the economy in the border regions.

All our posts in this series are here

08 May 2020, 15:52 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.

        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša made the case for unorthodox policies to battle the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic as he sent out a message on Labour Day. He suggested tax and social systems will have to be reformed, which would include consideration of universal basic income.
        LJUBLJANA - In a Labour Day address, President Borut Pahor emphasised the important role of the state as evident in the ongoing response to the coronavirus epidemic. The state "does not exist merely to have an army or police. It is also a welfare state, a state governed by the rule of law."
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Janez Lenarčič, the Slovenian EU commissioner in charge of crisis management, said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for the EU to play a greater role in health and civil protection. He plans to propose that the Commission directly order equipment for the strategic European stockpile.
        LJUBLJANA - Thousands of cyclists took to the streets, accusing the government of curtailing civil liberties in what was the latest in a series of protests targeting the government's anti-coronavirus and other policies. The rally was organised by twenty-odd self-organised groups and civil society organisations on Facebook.
        LJUBLJANA - LGBT+ rights NGOs acknowledged that preventive measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 are necessary but also warn that lockdown restrictions have resulted in the loss of safe spaces.
        BRNIK - The Foreign Ministry said Slovenia had received 12 tonnes of protective personal equipment from China. The shipment contained 30,000 N95 masks, 700,000 surgical masks, 20,000 protective overalls, 10,000 goggles and 30,000 gloves.
        VATICAN CITY - Vatican News reported that Mitja Leskovar, a Slovenian priest who has been with the Vatican's diplomatic service for nearly two decades, was appointed the apostolic nuncio to Iraq.

        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša said that Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek was still enjoying his trust in the wake of accusations of political pressure in the purchasing of personal protective equipment and ventilators. Janša added that a government report on the procurement would be sent to parliament next week.
        LJUBLJANA - It was a second consecutive day that none of the persons tested for coronavirus tested positive, coming after what was the first day with in Slovenia no new infections since the first infection was confirmed on 4 March.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Union of Journalists said in a statement marking World Press Freedom Day that the media sector had adjusted to the epidemic situation quickly and effectively but it faced great uncertainty after the corona crisis was over and the government is increasing this uncertainty.
        BERLIN, Germany - Slovenian freelance journalist Blaž Zgaga, a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was one of 17 recipients of the Freedom of Speech Award given out by the German public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle to journalists from 14 countries who have been persecuted for coronavirus reporting.

        LJUBLJANA - Four centre-left opposition parties filed a motion of no confidence in Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, accusing him of being responsible for profiteering of individuals and companies in the purchases of personal protective equipment. The motion has little chance of succeeding as coalition parties indicated their support for the minister and even the opposition National Party (SNS) said it would not vote for his dismissal.
        LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry decided to rescind a EUR 8 million contract with the company Geneplanet for the purchase of 220 Siriusmed R30 ventilators. This was proposed by Geneplanet after the ventilators came under fire as being unsuitable for Covid-19 patients. Geneplanet has already delivered 110 of these ventilators, but the final number of accepted venitlators will be 90.
        LJUBLJANA - Lockdown restrictions were eased further as stores under 400m2 outside shopping malls reopened along with bar terraces, hair salons and beauty parlours. Some museums and libraries reopened and church services resumed. Despite the easing, strict physical distancing measures still apply.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia pledged EUR 13.76 million in a global online pledging marathon supporting research into a possible vaccine and treatment for coronavirus. More than EUR 7.4 billion has been raised in the EU campaign.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - As the National Security Council met for a session, the government decided to upgrade the national protection and rescue plan in the part pertaining to epidemics in order to address issues that may occur in the case of a possible second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic.
        NOVA GORICA/KOBARID - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs visited the communities along Slovenia's western border, announcing the reopening of two border check points with Italy and discussing the possibility of reopening several others.
        LJUBLJANA - Verica Trstenjak, a former advocate general at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, was put forward as a candidate for a member of the supervisory board of Slovenia's largest bank, NLB. The vote on her appointment will be taken at the shareholders' meeting on 15 June.
        LJUBLJANA - Police said it had recorded a 20% increase in domestic violence since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, when the period is compared with the same period last year. At the same time, the number of crimes against public order has decreased.

        LJUBLJANA - The four coalition parties filed for a parliamentary inquiry to look into the situation, handling, stock, orders and purchases of protective and critical medical equipment needed to battle Covid-19 between 1 February and 20 April, and thus outmaneuvered the four centre-left opposition parties that submitted a rival motion for an relevant inquiry just hours later.
        LJUBLJANA - After a video conference with his counterparts from the EU, Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik said Slovenia would not compromise the right to privacy for a mobile contact tracing app. Slovenia is among the countries in which the right to privacy is very restrictively defined, he added.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - As the EU ministers in charge of social affairs discussed national measures to tackle the coronavirus fallout, Slovenia's Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj agreed that the efforts should be boosted, adding that the crisis could be a stepping stone to a healthier balance between personal and professional lives.
        LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce said the Covid-19 lockdown had resulted in the retail sector posting very worrying results. The sector as a whole could see a EUR 6-7 billion drop in sales this year, which represents over 20% of annual revenue.
        LJUBLJANA - The official receiver of Adria Airways admitted EUR 87.7 million in claims from creditors out of a total of EUR 151 million reported since the air carrier entered into receivership last October. Few claims will be repaid, though, given that the bankruptcy estate is valued only at EUR 6 million.
        BRNIK - Airport operator Fraport Slovenija called on the government to help with keeping the company afloat and completing a new passenger terminal in time. The terminal, valued at EUR 21 million, was to open before Slovenia takes the presidency of the Council of the EU in July 2021.
        RIJEKA, Croatia - A consortium comprising Slovenia's Kolektor CPG, Croatia's GP Krk and Bosnia's Euroasfalt won a tender to build a state road in the Croatian port city of Rijeka. The three-kilometre road running on a very complex terrain will be built for EUR 61 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian courts were allowed to start holding hearings, deliver rulings and serve writes in non-urgent cases, after most activities were suspended on 16 March. Deadlines will still not apply in non-urgent cases in which writs would be served, according to guidance issued by the Supreme Court.

        LJUBLJANA - A nationwide antibody study found that one in thirty Slovenians has probably been exposed to the novel coronavirus, meaning that about 2-4% of the population may have gained some sort of immunity to Covid-19. Miroslav Petrovec of the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, which led the study, cautioned that this did not necessarily mean those people are immune to Covid-19.
        LJUBLJANA - The government released a report on PPE purchases, saying all procurement was executed in line with protocol and amid difficult circumstances that were aggravated by the failure of former PM Marjan Šarec to react sooner. The report says all the ordered ventilators had expert backing. The opposition responded by saying it did not provide insight into the developments but was primarily meant as a defence of the government.
        LJUBLJANA - Data from the Employment Service showed that the coronavirus crisis is taking a heavy toll on Slovenia's job market, as 10,793 people were added to the unemployment register in April alone, pushing the total up by 19.9% year-on-year to 88,648.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Commission projected that Slovenia's GDP will drop by 7% this year, while a 6.7% recovery is expected in 2021 on the back of stimulus measures. The forecast is nevertheless somewhat better than for the entire eurozone on average, which stands at -7.7% for this year and +6.3% for next year.
        LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Anton Travner dismissed National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Darko Muženič, appointing Igor Lamberger as the NBI's acting head. Lamberger served as a deputy president of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption from mid-2014 to mid-2019 and had previously worked for the Criminal Police Department.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša urged for a continuation of EU enlargement continue without any further delays despite the coronavirus epidemic as the EU held a virtual summit with the leaders of Western Balkan countries. The EU needs to stay active in the region despite all the challenges, the PM's office wrote.
        LJUBLJANA - The government gave registered athletes the green light to start practising in outdoor facilities and to resume competitions in individual sports up to and including the national level, albeit without spectators.
        LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Ministry said that public transport in Slovenia will be relaunched on Monday, 11 May, after being suspended because of the coronavirus epidemic on 16 March.
        LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court quashed a ruling that ordered the incumbent prime minister, Janez Janša, to pay EUR 6,000 in damages to a journalist for calling her a "washed-up prostitute" in a tweet. The journalist announced she will take her case to the Constitutional Court and the Journalists' Association (DNS) condemned the court's decision.
        LJUBLJANA - Three NGOs announced they had asked the Constitutional Court to examine tighter standards for NGOs to participate in procedures in which building permits are issued, which were introduced with the changes to the first fiscal stimulus package the government adopted to help businesses and households cope with the Covid-19 epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Zlatko Ficko was dismissed as director general of the SiDG state forestry company and chief supervisor Samo Mihelin was appointed in his place until a new management with full powers is appointed, but not longer than one year.
        BRNIK - Fraport Slovenija, the company operating Ljubljana airport, said it posted an operating loss of EUR 2.4 million in the first quarter of the year. It generated EUR 6.9 million in revenue in the period, 32% year-on-year.
        LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce said sales of new cars and vans plunged by 71% year-on-year in April and 39% in the first four months compared to the same period last year. Just 2,140 new cars and vans were sold in April, and 16,354 vehicles in the first four months of the year.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and some parties condemned Hungarian PM Viktor Orban's posting a photo of a Greater Hungary map - with parts of it stretching into present-day Slovenia - as a way of wishing Hungarian secondary school students good luck in taking history exams. The Foreign Ministry said it would not comment on such issues unless they were clearly intended for historical revisionism.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian called in a video conference for a further strengthening of the strategic partnership between the two countries, also in light of their upcoming successive presidencies over the EU Council. Logar highlighted the car industry as crucial for both economies.
        NOVA GORICA/TRIESTE, Italy - Nova Gorica Mayor Klemen Miklavič warned about the extreme economic as well as social ramifications of the Covid-19 epidemic for the western Goriška region, caused mostly due to restricted links between Slovenia and Italy.
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - A group of Slovenian organisations in the Austrian province of Carinthia warned against attempts at historical revisionism and the denigrating of the Partisan liberation movement in the region. They stressed the Carinthian Partisans contributed to the victory over Nazism and the liberation of Austria.
        LJUBLJANA - The Journalists' Association (DNS) condemned the Supreme Court's decision to quash a ruling that ordered Prime Minister Janez Janša to pay damages to a reporter after having called her a washed-up prostitute in a Twitter post in 2016. It said the ruling had a chilling effect on journalists.
        LJUBLJANA - A Valicon survey showed the public's concern about the coronavirus had dropped under 60% for the first time since the middle of March, when the epidemic was declared. The uneasiness about the threat of the virus culminated at 86% in the week after the epidemic was declared and dropped to 57% this week.
        ŠKOFLJICA - A 56-year-old man strolling in the woods near Škofljica, just south of Ljubljana, was attacked by a bear, getting out of the incident without life-threatening injuries. On average, two bear attacks on humans are recorded in Slovenia annually.

All our posts in this series are here

02 May 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.

Here's some music made under lockdown conditions to soundtrack this post:

FRIDAY, 24 April
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian President Borut Pahor and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier noted the importance of solidarity and cooperation between EU countries during the coronavirus pandemic as they talked on the telephone, calling for faster and more efficient action on the part of EU institutions. Pahor's office said the presidents spoke mostly about the situation and relationships within the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The head of the deputy group of the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Brane Golubović, said a vote of no-confidence in the entire government was in the cards after a whistleblower from the Commodities Reserves Agency came out with accusations of widespread political pressure in the purchasing of protective and other medical equipment to tackle the Covid-19 epidemic.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Commission vice-president and Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova announced she had contacted Slovenian authorities over the media freedom situation in the country. "No hate, no threats, no personal attacks," reads part of Jourova's message to the government.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary foreign policy and culture committees called on the Foreign Ministry to withdraw the government's controversial letter to the Council of Europe about the state of the media in Slovenia which says that the majority of the media in Slovenia stem from the Communist regime. The committee also proposed public office holders refrain from restricting journalist work and editorial independence.
        LJUBLJANA - The Covid-19 crisis severely affected March figures for tourism and retail business. Accommodation facilities recorded a 75% drop in arrivals and 67% fewer night stays over March 2019, while retail revenue fell by 15.1% year on year, the latest Statistics Office figures showed.

SATURDAY, 25 April
        LJUBLJANA - Embracing a dissenting opinion in a recent Constitutional Court ruling, which tasked the government with examining each week whether its lockdown restrictions remain justified, Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted that "Slovenia unfortunately has the most politically biased Constitutional Court so far". "Double standards mean the death of any institution, especially judicial," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - The overhauled council of the Public Health Institute (NIJZ) selected Milan Krek, the head of the NIJZ's Koper unit, as the institute's new director before he was also cleared by the government a few days later. Krek appeared at government coronavirus briefings following the new government's clash with the institute's previous leadership.
        LJUBLJANA - Retailer Mercator reported its sales revenue increasing by 1.8% to EUR 2.14 billion in 2019 as net profit nearly tripled to EUR 4.7 million from EUR 1.6 million in 2018. Revenue from retail sales, Mercator's core business, increased by 2.2% to EUR 1.7 billion.
        AJDOVŠČINA - A paraglider was killed in a crash with an ultralight airplane that occurred near Ajdovščina. The paraglider and the airplane both crashed to the ground after the impact, but the pilot and passenger of the airplane survived, albeit with serious injuries.

SUNDAY, 26 April
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor told a national television talk show that he regretted the allegations of extensive political interference in the procurement of personal protective equipment reported in the media, as this had cast a shadow on what he assessed as otherwise excellent work of the government and parliament in the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Three Slovenian solders who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 returned to Slovenia from the NATO-led mission in Kosovo. The Slovenian Armed Forces said a military medical team had taken the infected soldiers to the Clinic for Infectious Disease in Ljubljana.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia had a population of 2,095,861 on 1 January 2020, up 0.7% from a year earlier. The number of Slovenian citizens dropped in 2019 as the multi-year downward trend continued, with the number of immigrants increasing again, Statistics Office figures showed.

MONDAY, 27 April
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek expressed moderate optimism about the prospects of securing good and coordinated anti-coronavirus measures in tourism. Speaking after at a videoconference of the EU ministers in charge of tourism, the minister rejected concerns about possible discrimination based on passport.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor addressed citizens on Resistance Day calling for cooperation and mutual aid in crisis. Pahor said that "we are remembering the most difficult times and the bravest of people." The head of the WWII Veterans' Association, Marijan Križman, added that the Liberation Front was the foundation of Slovenia's independence.
        LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - Despite a ban on public gatherings, small anti-government protests were held in Ljubljana, Maribor and several other cities. The protests were initiated by a Facebook group called Resistance against the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and saw police officers handing out fines for violation of quarantine rules.

TUESDAY, 28 April
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed the second coronavirus stimulus package, which mainly consists of a EUR 2 billion guarantee scheme for loans to provide liquidity for companies. It also raises state funding for municipalities by around 6%. The original EUR 3 billion legislative package was amended to expand eligibility for benefits recipients by 190,000 to 1.2 million people.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed over the phone bilateral relations and the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The pair called for strengthening the friendly relations and the alliance between the two countries, and highlighted the importance of a close transatlantic partnership in facing the pandemic.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Following a videoconference with EU counterparts, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs announced that Slovenia would accept four unaccompanied minors from migration centres on Greek islands, under the condition they are younger than ten years.
        LJUBLJANA - A day after anti-government rallies were held across the country, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs expressed the expectation the police would follow his "guidelines" about tracking down the protesters through social media. The police meanwhile highlighted their autonomy, noting that they do not rely on public opinion or possible opinions of persons from the public and political arenas.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Transition to a low-carbon society could be a key part of growth strategy in the face of the coronavirus crisis, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec told his counterparts from the other EU members in an online informal ministerial meeting. He said green investments had the potential to substantially boost economic activity.
        NOVO MESTO - Revoz, the Renault-owned car assembly plant and by far Slovenia's largest exporter, relaunched production after shutting down due to the coronavirus epidemic on 17 March. The resumption of operations will be gradual.

        LJUBLJANA - The government lifted a ban on non-essential travel outside the municipality of residence starting on 30 April as Prime Minister Janez Janša announced Slovenia had achieved a turnaround in the fight against coronavirus that allowed it to gradually ease restrictions. It was also announced that schools would start reopening on 18 May.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces' readiness for peacetime action improved from last year, while there has been no progress in its capacity for wartime action, which thus remains unsatisfactory for the sixth straight year, shows a report on the army's readiness presented to President Borut Pahor. The key reasons for the negative assessment are staff and funding shortages as well as outdated equipment.
        LJUBLJANA/BERLIN, Germany - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his German counterpart Heiko Maas called for a common European solution to travel during the coronavirus pandemic after holding talks via video link. The opening of borders depends on how the pandemic develops in individual countries, and there is also a risk of a second wave. This is why Logar stressed that "one should be aware that opening up borders also has an impact on other countries".
        ZAGREB, Croatia - The Slovenian and Croatian ministers in charge of tourism, Zdravko Počivalšek and Gari Cappelli, met to discuss the possibilities for relaunching the sector. They agreed that a solution should at least be found for Slovenian owners of real estate in Croatia.
        LJUBLJANA - Libraries, galleries and museums were allowed to reopen under a government decree, but the vast majority remained closed. The institutions said they needed more time to prepare. They expect to be able to welcome the first visitors in early May.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislative changes that facilitate the completion of the planned power stations on the lower Sava river, including the last link in the chain, the Mokrice plant. The amendments relax conditions under which investors may apply for a construction permit and an environmental assessment.
THURSDAY, 30 April
        LJUBLJANA - Nursing homes, hotspots of the coronavirus epidemic, received permission from the government to open to visitors again subject to strict protective measures. Janez Cigler Kralj, the minister in charge of social affairs, said the government was guided by good epidemic figures and the stress the elderly are subjected to without visitors. Nursing homes said they would start admitting visitors next week.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor discussed Slovenia's cooperation with the group, the Covid-19 pandemic and the EU's future as he received the ambassadors of the Visegrad Group accredited to Slovenia. Pahor described Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland as Slovenia's "natural allies" but stressed Slovenia was part of the core EU countries.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič rejected criticism from Slovenia that he failed to provide protective equipment to his home country. "The European Commission doesn't have masks or any other protective equipment. We don't have a secret storage in the basement of Berlaymont to keep a stockpile of protective masks, gloves or suits," Lenarčič said in an interview with Brussels correspondents.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey pointed to the role of cooperation in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic as they marked Slovenia-UK Friendship Day. Pahor stressed that Slovenian-UK friendship is based on courage and humanity, which enables the two countries to build confident and multi-faceted relations.
        LJUBLJANA - Ivan Kopina was appointed the acting director of the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering. He will take over on 1 May from Branka Glojnarič, whom the government relieved of her duties.
        LJUBLJANA - The government issued several decrees to help agriculture cope with the loss of income resulting from the coronavirus epidemic. Over EUR 5 million was allocated for wine producers, EUR 3.3 million for cattle farmers, EUR 2.2 for homestays and EUR 1.4 million for the forestry sector.
        LJUBLJANA - The Employment Service reported having received almost 36,550 applications for more than 321,000 workers under the legislation providing state aid for wages and social security contributions for idled or quarantined workers amid the coronavirus epidemic. The first payments will be made on 11 May.
        LJUBLJANA - Consumer prices in Slovenia dropped by 1.2% in April compared to April 2019 and by 0.9% over March. Both the annual and monthly deflation rates mostly resulted from plummeting prices of petroleum products.

All our posts in this series are here

24 Apr 2020, 12:55 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 April
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court ordered the government to immediately verify the justification for restrictions on the movement of persons put in place to contain coronavirus, whereupon it must examine the justification every week. The court suspended a provision that says the measures will be in place "until the cessation of the reasons". The suspension remains until the judges reach a substantive decision.
        LJUBLJANA - The government's chief medical adviser for the coronavirus epidemic, Bojana Beović, announced the epidemic was believed to be under control allowing public life to gradually re-start. "The curve has now turned downwards and we can therefore start talking about a gradual relaxation of measures," she said. Between 17 and 22 April Slovenia recorded only 49 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, which means the total count rose to 1,366. The death toll was up by 9 to 79.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor started reaching out to European countries in a series of video addresses in the recipients' languages, expressing Slovenia's solidarity in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Broadcasting Union called on the Slovenian authorities to refrain from exerting political pressure on public broadcaster RTV Slovenija in the challenging times of the epidemic. On 21 April Reporters Without Borders and six other press freedom organisations urged the European Commission to put pressure on the Slovenian government and remind it of its responsibility to "protect the press". The country meanwhile advanced two spots in the latest Press Freedom Index to 32nd place.
        LJUBLJANA - As schools are closed due to the coronavirus epidemic, the Education Ministry cancelled nation-wide primary school exams for the first time since they were introduced for sixth and ninth grade students 20 years ago.
        KOPER - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec approved a 50% reduction in port fees for Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's only sea port, to make it more competitive. Vrtovec said the "discount" would remain in place until September and would be extended if necessary.
        MARIBOR - Five suspects charged with running illegal call centres operated by trafficked Taiwanese were found guilty of human trafficking by the Maribor District Court. The Slovenian ringleader Allen Cvek was sentenced to four years in prison and the rest to two months less.

SATURDAY, 18 April
        LJUBLJANA - As Slovenia managed to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections, restrictions to movement were eased a little. Accessing private land outside of one's municipality of residence for purposes such as maintenance and seasonal works was added to exceptions such as going to work, basic shopping, accessing emergency services, doing farm work and caring for family members.

SUNDAY, 19 April
        LJUBLJANA - The Paka Hotel in Velenje stopped serving as one of two hotels used for quarantine for Slovenians returning home from Covid-19 hotspots around the globe as the last two persons quarantined there left for home. The hotels were turned into quarantine centres as the government engaged in extensive repatriation efforts. It said it had repatriated 800 citizens between mid-February and mid-April, while a further 1,500 got home alone with some assistance.
        LJUBLJANA - The leaders of the opposition SocDem and Marjan Šarec List directed harsh criticism at the centre-right government, accusing it of manipulation and abuse of power under the pretext of the combat against coronavirus. SD leader Dejan Židan said he trusted the Slovenian police and army but did not trust the government. Former PM Šarec lambasted the government for attacks on the public broadcaster and contentious purchases of protective equipment.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey conducted by Valicon showed public trust in the institutions vitally important during the epidemic has increased, including in the health system, public broadcaster and the police. The government enjoys a negative level of trust at -40%, which is still better by 15 percentage points than in November 2019 and the best score for the government since the Slovenia Mirror survey was first conducted.

MONDAY, 20 April
        LJUBLJANA - Lockdown restrictions were further loosened, including with a reintroduction of public transport organised by businesses or local communities in order to get people to work. A string of retail and services establishments reopened, such as telecommunication operators, DIY stores, car showrooms, stores selling bicycles, technical goods and furniture, dry cleaners and some repair shops. Outdoor services such as gardening, roof and facade work, and food takeaways involving minimum contact, as well as sports such as tennis and golf received the green light too.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia launched comprehensive random population testing for coronavirus after invitations to take part were sent to 3,000 people picked in a representative sample. The survey is meant to give the authorities a reliable estimate of the extent of the epidemic and help plan the way out of the lockdown. Those agreeing to testing are visited by technicians, are swabbed and give blood samples for a serological test for antibodies.
        LJUBLJANA - Brigadier Robert Glavaš pledged to work to secure the Slovenian Armed Forces staffing and material resources as he formally took over as the chief of the general staff by accepting the SAF battle standard from his predecessor. Glavaš said he was aware financial sources would be limited during the coronavirus epidemic and potential economic slowdown coming in its wake.
        LJUBLJANA - The four left-leaning opposition parties announced they would seek a constitutional review of two articles from the first coronavirus emergency package, including one expanding police powers, as well as of the decree limiting movement to municipal borders.
        LJUBLJANA - The Employment Service said it had received more than 32,000 applications for more than 262,000 employees until Sunday under the legislation providing state subsidies for wages and social security contributions for workers temporary laid-off or quarantined due to the coronavirus epidemic. The final figure is expected to be up to 10% lower because of some employers filing multiple applications.
        LJUBLJANA - Interim data by the Employment Service showed that the coronavirus crisis continues to strongly affect the employment situation, albeit not as severely as in the first weeks. While the registered unemployment total rose by 7,955 between 1 and 17 April to 85,810, the figure for the final week of this period was 2,029.
        LJUBLJANA - The Health Inspectorate said it had launched more than 2,900 procedures and issued fines worth more than EUR 32,000 to people violating lockdown restrictions. The cases processed have been mostly referred to the inspectorate by the police and involved individuals.
        LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - The Democrats (SDS) of PM Janez Janša, at 22.5%, persisted at the top of the ratings in the latest Vox Populi poll, while the former ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) fell to 9.8%, which compares to more than 19% in January and 15% in March. The government's performance was rated successful by 65%.
        LJUBLJANA - Revoz, the Slovenian subsidiary of the French car maker Renault, continues to top the Delo list of Slovenia's largest exporters, followed by pharmaceutical companies Lek and Krka, and the household appliances maker Gorenje, the only four companies whose exports exceeded a billion euro in 2019.

TUESDAY, 21 April
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government adopted a second coronavirus stimulus package, proposing the state provide quick liquidity aid to companies to the tune of EUR 2 billion. Loans to micro companies and SMEs will be guaranteed for up to 80% of the principal, and up to 70% for large companies. The package will be debated by parliament next week, along with corrections to the EUR 3 billion-worth first package, including relaxed conditions for companies to apply for wage subsidies, and expansion in the number of people eligible for benefits.
        LJUBLJANA - Amid mounting pressure over faults in dodgy procurement of PPE, the government replaced Agency for Commodity Reserves director Anton Zakrajšek, who had asked to be relieved of his duties while on sick leave due to Covid-19. While Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said transparency needed to be restored and indicated Zakrajšek had been pulling strings, Zakrajšek protested vehemently, suggesting the Economy Ministry had been calling all the shots in procurement. Zakrajšek was succeeded by ex-Kobilarna Lipica stud farm boss Toni Rumpf.
        LJUBLJANA - The coronavirus situation in the four nursing homes that have accounted for over three quarters of all Covid-19 deaths in Slovenia escalated further and new solutions began to be sought after two hospitals told by the Health Ministry to accept nursing home users with mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 offered resistance.
        LJUBLJANA - The plan to repatriate Slovenians from Venezuela has been put on hold due to the coronavirus epidemic, with the authorities announcing that repatriation will resume as soon as possible. Twenty-one Slovenians had been repatriated from the South American country before the pandemic broke out.

        LJUBLJANA - The government decreed that the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) share with the police information about individuals who have been ordered to go into self-isolation, quarantine or undergo treatment for Covid-19. The Health Ministry said about 2,900 quarantine orders had been issued to date. Some 1,500 are currently in effect.
        VELENJE - News broke that the Chinese-owned group Hisense Europe was planning to close 2,200 jobs by the end of the year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including 1,000 in Slovenia where it owns hosuehold appliance maker Gorenje. The latter confirmed the reports, saying the step was the result of Hisense Europe incurring a loss in the first quarter of the year, which is to further deepen in the second quarter. Hisense Europe employs almost 5,600 workers in Slovenia.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Participating in an EU ministerial on the bloc's approach to its neighbours to the east, Foreign Minister Anže Logar expressed support for the reform processes under way in Ukraine. He said measures to fight the pandemic should not be abused for geopolitical pressure, spread of misinformation or failure to implement agreements.
        LJUBLJANA - The police said they were investigating a suspected theft of protective equipment in the UKC Ljubljana hospital. It said that a 31-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman, both from Ljubljana, seem to have made 40,000 euro by selling the stolen equipment online. Unofficially, the suspects were UKC Ljubljana employees.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces received five new military ambulances donated by the US. Defence Minister Matej Tonin and US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard were present as the shipment arrived in Koper.
        LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Monika Pintar Mesarič as the acting director of the Infrastructure Agency, appointing Liljana Herga in her place for up to six months. Herga has so far headed the agency's road maintenance and traffic safety department. A possible change hinted at last week by Planet TV when reporting about an allegedly contentious tender to set up a SCADA system for the railway infrastructure.
THURSDAY, 23 April
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) said it would initiate a vote of no-confidence in Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek over his role in the purchases of protective personal equipment. Počivalšek responded with a tweet saying he saw the upcoming debate in parliament as an opportunity to "lay out all the evidence", including about how the Šarec government had handled the crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia plans to intensify the construction of fencing on the border with Croatia and expand the use of other technical means to control the border and prevent illegal migrations, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs announced. The government is also pushing to give the army certain police powers on the border. While it has failed to get the opposition on board for this, pressure increased earlier in the week with a petition signed by mayors of 23 border municipalities, who argued the novel coronavirus would spread massively among migrants.
        LJUBLJANA - Former President Milan Kučan said in an interview that the government's measures to fight the epidemic were adequate, but he is worried some of them could affect democracy.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian banks received just over 5,000 requests for deferral of loan payments from companies struggling with the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic by 10 April, data from the central bank show. Nearly 7,000 such requests have been made by individuals. Banks said they had adopted proactive approaches to addressing clients' problems and that solutions were being sought on a case-by-case basis.
        LJUBLJANA - Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Andrej Vizjak announced a deregulation of construction legislation that he argues will substantially speed up construction in this crucial period. A key segment of the proposed changes envisages the integration of several construction permit procedures while ridding potential investors of the obligation to first obtain claims over the land slated for construction. Moreover, only NGOs with more than 50 members will be able to appeal permit decrees.

All our posts in this series are here

17 Apr 2020, 13:44 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, 10 April
        LJUBLJANA - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj hailed the agreement reached by EU finance ministers on a fiscal package to combat the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic as a step in the right direction. Šircelj said member states had different views but managed to close ranks and forge a compromise.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor commented on a cable sent by Slovenia to the Council of Europe (CoE) in response to a warning about pressure on the media by saying it made sense to wait for an official explanation by the prime minister and foreign minister to see if the letter's content was in fact Slovenia's official position.
        LJUBLJANA - Reviewing cooperation between Slovenia and the Holy See, Foreign Minister Anže Logar and Apostolic Nuncio Jean-Marie Speich agreed that bilateral relations should be deepened. Logar pointed to the importance of spiritual care in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The public health insurer ZZZS said it expects the coronavirus crisis to slash its revenue by around EUR 215 million this year, while higher expenditure is expected on top of that, to the tune of EUR 30 million due to higher sick leave costs alone.
        BRNIK - More than twenty tonnes of protective equipment, including face masks for medical staff, was delivered from China to the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, one of the largest such shipments since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - A new regulation entered into force requiring consumers above the age of 65 to prove their age with an identity card to enter grocery shops during dedicated opening hours.

SATURDAY, 11 April
        LJUBLJANA - Alojz Uran, who served as the Archbishop of Ljubljana in 2004-2009, a time of significant financial turmoil for the Church, died at the age of 75. Uran was named the Archbishop of Ljubljana in October 2004, succeeding Archbishop Franc Rode, and resigned in November 2009, officially due to health problems.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU/LJUBLJANA - The government met to discuss guidelines for additional measures to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus epidemic on the economy, with PM Janez Janša announcing that put all measures for securing liquidity of companies would be combined into a single package.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a decree which shortens the quarantine period for persons entering Slovenia to one week from two weeks. They can spend the time at home or at a location agreed with the civil defence. The decree entered into force on 12 April.
        LJUBLJANA - About a month after the government of Janez Janša was sworn in, a poll commissioned by the newspaper Delo showed that more than 43% of the respondents assessed the government's work as positive. But the high support did not reflect in support for the coalition parties.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor told Dnevnik in an interview that he intended to end his political career after his term ends in 2022.

SUNDAY, 12 April
        LJUBLJANA - The Trade Union of Police Officers appealed to Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and acting Police Commissioner Anton Travner to immediately recall face masks that had been supplied to the police due to their questionable efficiency in protecting against COVID-19 infection after police has concluded the supplies are not certified protective shields but hygienic masks meant for non-medical purposes.

MONDAY, 13 April
        BRNIK - A new shipment of protective equipment from China was delivered to the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, including 20 tonnes of protective masks, goggles and suits for medical staff, and protective gloves. The delivery was made by Public Digital Infrastructure, a company owned by gaming millionaire Joc Pečečnik, under a EUR 30 million-plus contract with the state.
TUESDAY, 14 April
        WASHINGTON, US - The IMF forecast Slovenia's gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink by 8% this year compared to 2019 as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic in what is a drastic downgrade compared to the projection from last autumn, when Slovenia was forecast to record 2.9% GDP growth.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed lawyer and security expert Janez Stušek the new director of the SOVA intelligence and security agency, effective on 15 April. The five-year term comes with the option of re-appointment.
        LJUBLJANA - The government's chief medical advisor for the coronavirus epidemic, Bojana Beović, said Slovenia would not be able to start relaxing lockdown measures this week as yet, stressing the easing would depend on when the health authorities determined the epidemic was tailing off.
        LJUBLJANA - Figures released by the National Institute of Public Health showed that more than 80% of people who died of coronavirus in Slovenia were older than 75 years and almost 60% were older than 85. All the deceased were older than 45, but the number of deaths rose with age.
        LJUBLJANA - A contentious letter sent by the government to the Council of Europe (CoE) to claim the majority of the main media in Slovenia stem from the Communist regime was defended by Foreign Minister Anže Logar in parliament as it was discussed by the foreign policy and culture committees. The letter was a response to an alert issued by the CoE Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists after PM Janez Janša tweeted that the public broadcaster was misleading the public and indicated that some of its staff should lose their jobs.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs indicated the coalition could tighten asylum legislation, including by using some of the proposals of the Miro Cerar government and mindful of a European Court of Human Rights's ruling that migrants who do not enter the country lawfully could be turned back.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) said it expected the tourism sector to see a 60-70% contraction this year if the relaxation of lockdown measures starts in June. If the restrictions last longer, the contraction is expected to be even sharper, STO director Maja Pak said.
        LJUBLJANA - Several companies, including household appliances maker Gorenje and sports goods maker Elan, which had suspended their production due to the coronavirus epidemic started gradually restarting operations and joining those that have only partly shut down or have not closed shop at all.

        ČRNOMELJ - President Borut Pahor and the defence and interior ministers, Matej Tonin and Aleš Hojs, visited the southern border area along the Kolpa river to call for the military to be given limited police powers, arguing that stronger joint border patrols were supported by the army and police, and the locals in the area.
        LJUBLJANA - Miroslav Petrovec, the head of the Institute for Microbiology and Immunology, announced a random population testing for coronavirus on a sample of 1,000-1,500 residents to get a reliable estimate of the scope of the coronavirus epidemic in the country. The nation-wide testing is expected to begin next week.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The coronavirus crisis has shown Slovenia urgently needs a transport plane, Defence Minister Matej Tonin said after a videoconference of NATO defence ministers. The ministry has already initiated procedures, requested input from the military and formed a working group that will examine all acquisition options.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Ministry State Secretary Franc Breznik offered his resignation after he was caught speeding and drunk driving on 2 April. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs accepted the resignation the following day.
        LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry proposed that the National Public Health Institute share citizens' personal data with the police to help contain the coronavirus epidemic. If the motion is endorsed, the police will be privy to the information about the quarantine duration and other anti-COVID-19 restrictions imposed on the individual.
        LJUBLJANA - A majority of the eight-member contingent of the Slovenian Armed Forces serving in the European Union Training Mission in Mali returned home after training tasks there were suspended and focus put on containing the spread of coronavirus. Five soldiers returned home three days after one infected Slovenian soldier had been airlifted home.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia sent a package of aid to Bosnia-Herzegovina via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to help the country fight the coronavirus pandemic. The package included ten tents, 60 field beds, 50 sleeping bags, ten heaters, 1,500 blankets, 100 pieces of cutlery and 20 waste bag stands.
THURSDAY, 16 April
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Brigadier Robert Glavaš the new chief of the general staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF).
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the press that the government plans to deploy soldiers if needed despite the fact that it was unable to muster the two-thirds majority in parliament to grant soldiers limited police powers to patrol the border. It plans to use a different legislative provision that allows a more limited form of deployment.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided that hardware shops, car repair shops and showrooms will reopen on 20 April and hair and beauty salons on 4 May.
        LJUBLJANA - Police recorded 1,835 illegal crossings of the border in the first three months of the year, which is 6.5% more than in the same period last year. Most migrants came from Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan.
        MARIBOR - NKBM, Slovenia's second largest bank, reported a EUR 62.5 million net profit at group level and EUR 67.4 million at the level of the core bank for 2019, down EUR 10 million and EUR 8 million respectively on 2018.
        LJUBLJANA - The state-owned power group HSE reported EUR 29.7 million in net profit for last year, bouncing back from a EUR 11.8 million loss the year before after its subsidiary, the Šoštanj coal-fired power plant (TEŠ), posted its lowest loss since the contentious unit 6 became operational in 2015.
        LJUBLJANA - Economist and cultural studies expert Andrej Srakar said he was not thrilled with the government's measures taken so far to help the culture sector recover from the Covid-19 crisis but was nevertheless optimistic that the sector could recover within a year.
        MURSKA SOBOTA/LJUBLJANA - Hungary has donated seven pallets of protective equipment to the Murska Sobota hospital, including surgical masks, hazmat suits and disinfectants. Huawei Technologies provided 30,000 protective face masks and 100 tablet computers for disadvantaged children.
        LJUBLJANA - Amnesty International said in its latest report on human rights that Slovenia has failed to respect and protect the rights of migrants, while also pointing to what it believes is an inappropriate definition of rape, inadequate elderly care and treatment of the Roma.

All our posts in this series are here

10 Apr 2020, 13:32 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 April
        LJUBLJANA - The government started discussing guidelines for a second fiscal stimulus package. It will focus on correcting any flaws in the first package, worth EUR 3 billion, and measures to boost the economy's liquidity.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry announced that the rotations of contingents of the Slovenian Armed Forces in international operations and missions planned in the next three months would not be carried out due to the coronavirus pandemic. The contingents which are currently abroad will need to extend their service for three months.
        LJUBLJANA - The government restricted the usage of drugs containing chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine or azithromycin to make sure enough of those substances are available to patients who need them.
        LJUBLJANA - Florist shops and nurseries reopened, with the government explaining that spring is a peak selling time for these businesses.
        DOBROVNIK - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec hailed a decision by orchids grower Ocean Orchids to also start growing vegetables as a case of rapid adaptation. She announced government measures to facilitate this.
        LJUBLJANA - The chair of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, Matjaž Nemec, expressed surprise because Slovenia failed to join a group of EU countries that have expressed concern about the risk of violations of the rule of law by measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. On Monday, Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič expressed support for the statement.
        SKOPJE, Macedonia - Slovenia donated to North Macedonia protective equipment worth EUR 110,000 to help the country fight the novel coronavirus.
        LJUBLJANA - Individuals and businesses donated over EUR 58,800 as they responded to the Finance Ministry's call to raise funds for Covid-19 relief. The donations went into the "budgetary reserve" and the government will report to parliament on the use on a monthly basis.
        LJUBLJANA - The coronavirus crisis started to take a toll on the unemployment situation in Slovenia and what had been a favourable trend until recently was reversed. The number of people registered as unemployed grew by 0.5% to 77,855 in March compared to February.
        LJUBLJANA - Thirty members of the Slovenian chapter of PEN International called on the Slovenian authorities to respect all citizens' rights guaranteed by law and constitution as measures to contain the coronavirus epidemic are being introduced.

        LJUBLJANA - All persons arriving in Slovenia from abroad now face a 14-day quarantine. They will be quarantined at home if possible and if not, they will be placed at facilities.
        LJUBLJANA - The bonuses for vital public sector staff envisaged by the government mega stimulus bill will be fully covered by the state, Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik said.
        LJUBLJANA - Police were checking compliance with movement restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus across the country, detecting no major violations.
        LJUBLJANA/KOPER - Due to the coronavirus epidemic, Ljubljana airport recorded a 20% drop in the amount of cargo transported in March. This was mostly the cargo transported in passenger planes, the airport operator Fraport Slovenija said.

SUNDAY, 5 April
        LJUBLJANA - Coronavirus death toll in Slovenia rose to 30 as infections topped 1,000.
        LJUBLJANA - Government spokesman Jelko Kacin announced that stringent lockdown restrictions introduced to fight the coronavirus epidemic would remain in place at least two to four more weeks.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša rebuffed critics who have accused the government of sidelining public health professionals. He said the government had listened to a broader circle of experts beyond the domestic National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

MONDAY, 6 April
        LJUBLJANA - The government said it was preparing measures to enable some industries to relaunch operations immediately after the Easter holidays if the current trend in the number of persons diagnosed with Covid-19 continues.
        LJUBLJANA - The Agency for Commodity Reserves delivered 66 mechanical ventilators to hospitals, as well as 1.83 million three-layer face masks and over 401,000 FFP2 masks the week before.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard met to mark the Slovenian-American Friendship and Alliance Day.
        LJUBLJANA - The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference recalled the first free multi-party elections in Slovenia 30 years ago likening the situation at the time to the coronavirus crisis in which the bishops see "our civic duty, responsibility" put to test again.
        NOVO MESTO/BEGUNJE/ŽIRI - Several Slovenian companies, including Adria Mobil, Alpina and Elan, announced they would shortly relaunch production after suspending or scaling it down amid the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian agriculture organisations raised concern about "huge" damage to business due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, urging the government to take a series of measures, including curbs on meat imports and increased purchase of produce for national commodity reserves.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian lawyer and UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin told sport newspaper EkipaSN in an interview he believed Slovenian authorities should express a bit more optimistic view of the situation as the country is fighting the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - An OECD report found Slovenia to be one of the most transparent OECD countries in the field of public procurement, yet it recommended it to open up its public procurement procedures to more experimentation and innovative methods.
        KRANJ - A dystopian play by Tjaša Mislej about four workers working and living in a giant warehouse won this year's Slavko Grum Prize for best new Slovenian play.
        HOLMEC - The Holmec border crossing was partly reopened after Austria closed it as part of restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.

TUESDAY, 7 April
        LJUBLJANA - More than five years after deciding the state must provide equal funding for public and private primary schools, the Constitutional Court specified that this applies only to the mandatory part of school curricula at private schools but not to non-mandatory curricula, such as morning and afternoon care, or remedial tutoring.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly voted with the needed two-thirds majority in favour of changes to the rules of procedure that allow it to hold sessions and vote remotely in exceptional circumstances such as the coronavirus epidemic or natural disaster.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislative changes that will shorten the period for laws, which cannot be challenged in referenda, to take effect. The changes are expected to speed up the implementation of laws designed to alleviate consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic by 8 days.
        LJUBLJANA - The business newspaper Finance reported, referring to Bloomberg, that the Slovenian state had borrowed another EUR 2.25 billion by carrying out a new 10-year bond issue and expanding the amounts of the previous two bond issues.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council endorsed the measures taken by the government to contain the coronavirus epidemic and mitigate its consequences. For the most part the measures are in agreement with recommendations by international organisations and comparable in scope to measures taken by other countries. However, in the future the measures must be more targeted, simple and limited in duration.
        LJUBLJANA - Administered fuel prices in Slovenia dropped to eleven-year lows despite the government increasing excise duties the day before. Regular and diesel sold at service stations outside the motorway network dropped to euro per litre. The last time regular cost less than a euro was in April 2009 and diesel in May 2009.
        MARIBOR - Pošta Slovenije generated EUR 262.7 million in revenue last year, EUR 12 million more than the year before. While failing to disclose the profit figure, the company said it was substantially below projections. The main reason for the lower-than-expected profitability is a pay deal the company had struck with trade unions.

        LJUBLJANA - Hospital data indicated the novel coronavirus epidemic is stabilising, with hospitalisations and intensive care cases flat. A total of 108 persons were in hospital, of whom 34 in intensive care. So far 128 persons have been discharged from hospital.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor discussed efforts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella. The presidents underlined the importance of solidarity and cooperation among nations, and expressed regret at the EU's inability to respond earlier and more effectively. They expressed support for the measures adopted by the governments of their respective countries.
        LJUBLJANA - Medical Chamber head Zdenka Čebašek-Travnik urged the government to use all medical staff, including private doctors and dentists, to restart the country's healthcare when it begins to gradually exit the coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - The central bank suspended for a year the payout of dividends by banks and savings banks. The measure is aimed at securing sufficient capital so that the system could better sustain potential losses and be able to supply the economy and individuals with loans.
        LJUBLJANA/STRASBOURG, France - Responding to criticism coming from the Council of Europe over pressure on the media in Slovenia, the government argued the situation was a result of media having "their origin in the former communist regime". The dispatch was criticised the next day by the Journalists' Association and the opposition, while coalition partners distanced themselves from it.
        LJUBLJANA - Vojko Urbas was appointed acting director of the Criminal Police Department and took over from his predecessor Boštjan Lindav. He was appointed by acting Police Commissioner Anton Travner, who has led the force since the Janez Janša government was appointed in mid-March.
        LJUBLJANA - The top leaders of major religious groups in Slovenia called on believers to stay home, pray and peruse religious texts as they addressed the daily government coronavirus press briefing.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Roma warned about tenacious discrimination and their communities struggling in the face of the coronavirus crisis as they observed International Roma Day.

        LJUBLJANA - The government's coronavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin rejected interpretations Slovenia had decided to freeze membership payments to the World Health Organisation given that PM Janez Janša said everybody would need to follow the example of the US in taking this step.
        LJUBLJANA - Unofficial data from the Employment Service showed the registered unemployment total rising by 4,922 in the first eight days of April, jumping by 1,030 on 8 April alone.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry said that Slovenia will ask for international assistance via NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre in securing transport for protective gear and other supplies to ensure there is enough equipment to battle the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša exchanged information on the current coronavirus situation with Friuli Venezia Giulia President Massimiliano Fedriga via videoconference.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's trade in goods continued to grow in February, the month before Slovenia introduced strict lockdown measures amid the coronavirus epidemic. Exports grew by 11.7% and imports by 5.9% over February 2019, data by the Statistics Office showed.
        NOVO MESTO - The supervisory and management boards of Krka proposed the shareholders of the drug maker be paid dividends of EUR 4.25 gross per share. Not only is the proposed payout almost a third higher than in 2019, Krka is actually one of few listed companies whose shareholders may get dividends this year.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of five Slovenian MEPs led by Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) called on the government to join EU countries helping and taking in unaccompanied refugee children stranded on Greek islands.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to allow non-urgent health services to resume under certain conditions after these have been suspended in the efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic in the country.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenians are increasingly optimistic regarding the situation around the coronavirus epidemic, showed the latest survey by Valicon, as a vast majority of respondents believes that things are turning for the better.

All our posts in this series are here

03 Apr 2020, 13:17 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, 27 March
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša called for joint EU action to fight the coronavirus crisis as he attended an EU summit via a videoconference on 26 March. "The scale of the crisis is truly large and may have grave and fateful effects on the cohesion of the EU and the economic and monetary union," he was quoted as saying by the Government Communication Office.
        LJUBLJANA - 52 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed but no new deaths recorded in Slovenia, putting the national total of infected persons at 684 and death toll at nine. The infected included 83 residents and 23 staff at care homes. 90 patients were at hospitals, of whom 25 in intensive case.
        LJUBLJANA - The government announced all Slovenians returning to Slovenia from coronavirus hotspots would be put into state-administrated quarantine. As a result, a group of over 40 Slovenian citizens who were flown in from Spain late on 26 March, were not sent into self-isolation but quarantined in a hotel in Velenje for two weeks.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU ministers in charge of development and European cohesion policy, among them Slovenia's Zvonko Černač, appealed to the European Commission to come up with a second set of measures enabling more flexibility in the phasing of EU funds to tackle the coronavirus epidemic ramifications.
        LJUBLJANA - In the wake of production shutdowns and public life grinding to a halt, electricity consumption in Slovenia dropped by 3.89% between 12 and 26 March compared to the same period in 2019, data from the state-owned electricity distribution system operator SODO showed.
        LJUBLJANA - The government concluded a contract with the state-owned Kopp Izobraževanje company to provide maritime piloting services in the port of Koper as a public service. So far these services had been provided by private company Piloti Koper. Under the decree, the contract is concluded for up to ten years.
        LJUBLJANA - The Environment Agency measured record high concentrations of around 400 microgrammes per cubic metre of harmful PM10 particles around Slovenia as Saharan dust reached Europe. The allowed level is 50 microgrammes per cubic metre.

SATURDAY, 28 March
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a EUR 3 billion fiscal stimulus package meant to mitigate the impact of coronavirus for businesses and households. While upgrading support measures for companies like pay compensation for temporary lay-offs, tax and loan payment deferrals and adding things like loan guarantees and financing of social contributions, the scheme was expanded to include temporary basic income for the self-employed and allowances for pensioners, large families and students. The package includes bonuses for vital staff and a pay cut for public office holders. The measures would apply for two months but could be extended.
        LJUBLJANA - Two persons died in Slovenia as a result of Covid-19, putting the total number at eleven. The number of confirmed cases rose by 46 to 730, with the increase comparing to 52 on Friday and 70 on Thursday. The number of hospitalised patients increased by 11 to 101, 23 of whom need intensive care.
        LJUBLJANA - The first confirmed case of coronavirus in a prisoner in Slovenia was confirmed as Slovenia's largest incarceration facility in Dob said one inmate had fallen ill.
        LJUBLJANA - More than 58% of those polled trust the government is doing the right thing amid the coronavirus epidemic, with 22% not trusting it, a poll released by the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer showed. Over 55% said the planned government measures to help business, sole proprietors and the self-employed were sufficient, around 25% consider them inadequate and 20% said they were not familiar well enough with them to comment.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian spas, closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus epidemic, estimate "an alarming 30-35% loss of revenue this year", Association of Slovenian Natural Spas director Iztok Altbauer told the STA.
        LJUBLJANA - Under a decree published in the Official Gazette, Slovenian air traffic will remain severely restricted as the government extended the 17 March ban on passenger flights. Flights to and from non-EU countries are banned until further notice while flights to and from EU destinations remain suspended until 13 April.

SUNDAY, 29 March
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 26 to 756, but there were no new deaths, so the death toll remained at eleven. 115 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, 28 of them in intensive treatment units. As many as 108 of those who tested positive were health workers, 24 of them at care homes.
        LJUBLJANA - A law allowing a one-month suspension of a prison sentence and an early release of prisoners up to six months before the end of their sentence entered into force. Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič announced on 30 March that prison sentences had been suspended for 68 persons and an additional 15 prisoners had been released early under the measures in administrative matters to contain the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor honoured those helping society to function as normally as possible amid the coronavirus epidemic with the Apple of Inspiration. At a symbolic ceremony in an empty hall at the Presidential Palace, he said their selfless contribution inspired hope.

MONDAY, 30 March
        LJUBLJANA - Stricter movement restrictions confining residents to their home municipality except in few exceptions such as going to work kicked in under a 29 March decree to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The government decided to step up the restrictions following reports of people continuing to visit popular weekend destinations despite being advised to stay home. Face masks also became mandatory in closed public spaces. The measures, including disinfecting of multi-apartment buildings, were on 31 March criticised as unnecessary by National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) acting head Ivan Eržen, noting they had not been coordinated with NIJZ.
        LJUBLJANA - Trade unions and businesses largely welcomed the EUR 3 billion bill to help the economy and society cope with the coronavirus crisis as a way of averting massive layoffs. However, the unions said certain groups had been left out and the government had ignored social dialogue in adopting it. The Chamber of Commerce said it expected more liquidity-boosting measures to follow in the next similar aid package.
        LJUBLJANA - Opposition parties mostly voiced support for the government-sponsored EUR 3 billion stimulus package to mitigate the impact of coronavirus, with the left-leaning ones however criticising provisions giving police sweeping powers to control the movement of infected individuals. The parliament's legal service also highlighted a number of shortcomings in as many as two-thirds of the bill.
        LJUBLJANA - The Information Commissioner and the Human Rights Ombudsman warned against giving police sweeping powers to control the movement of infected individuals as part of the government fiscal stimulus bill in a bid to contain the epidemic. They said this would violate basic constitutional rights, turning Slovenia into a police state. The coalition partly heeded the criticism, withdrawing on 1 April the provision allowing the police to track people in quarantine without a court warrant, create photo robots and enter apartments. But the bill still allows the police to search for people, use photo facial recognition, set up road blocks, temporarily prevent the movement of people and collect and process sensitive personal data.
        LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment and consumer confidence in Slovenia plummeted in March amid the coronavirus epidemic; Statistics Office data showed the business sentiment index dropped to -3.7 percentage points, down 12.5 points year on year. The last time it was in the negative territory was in August 2014. Consumer confidence sunk to the lowest since May 2016, having declined 11 points since March 2019.
        LJUBLJANA - Housing prices rose by 5.2% in 2019, the fifth consecutive year of growth, data from the Statistics Office showed. The number of real estate transactions went up by 4%, while the value of the deals amounted to EUR 1.3 billion, up roughly 6% on 2018.

TUESDAY, 31 March
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's central bank Banka Slovenije said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Slovenian economy will likely be higher than in the last global financial crisis; it expects GDP to contract by between 6% and 16%, but it projection had not factored in emerging fiscal and monetary policy measures.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll rose to 15 as four people died on Monday and Tuesday, with the number of new coronavirus cases increasing by 46 to 802 on Monday and to 841 on Tuesday. The authorities said a quick look at the epidemic showed a more favourable situation than in Italy's worst hit areas, but still did not inspire optimism. Nursing homes remained the main hot spots, with 137 residents and 30 staff having contracted the disease.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate dropped to 0.5% in March from 2% in February. The prices of food, which were up 4.9%, contributed 0.7 of a percentage point to the annual inflation in March. On the monthly level, a deflation of 0.8% was recorded mainly due to lower electricity prices.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded a general government surplus of EUR 260 million or 0.5% of GDP in 2019 after already posting a EUR 330 million surplus in 2018. Expenditure growth, at 5.2%, was higher than revenue growth, at 4.8%. Consolidated debt decreased by EUR 479 million to EUR 31.7 billion or 66.1% of GDP, Statistics Office data showed.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Olympic Committee (OKS) welcomed the proposed fiscal stimulus package, but noted that sports organisations in Slovenia had so far recorded a drop in expected revenue of more than EUR 25 million. A survey has also shown that around 800 full-time jobs in the sport industry are at risk.
        LJUBLJANA - The pan-European Europa Nostra organisation released a list of seven most endangered European cultural heritage sites for 2020, with a stadium designed by acclaimed 20th-century Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik also making the list.
        LJUBLJANA - Zdravljica, a poem written in the 1840s by Slovenia's France Prešeren to celebrates peace, freedom and fraternity, was awarded the European Heritage Label by the European Commission alongside nine other pieces of heritage which testify about European ideals, values, history and integration. The seventh stanza of Zdravljica, or A Toast in English, set to music by Stanko Premrl in 1905, was chosen to be Slovenia's national anthem in 1990.
        LJUBLJANA - DARS, the state-owned operator of Slovenia's motorway network, generated EUR 480.75 million in revenue last year, up 3.3% over 2018, but its net profit was down by 9.5% to EUR 139.61 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Tool maker group Unior saw its revenue rise by 3% to EUR 256 million last year, continuing a multi-year trend. Net profit dropped by 14% to EUR 10.4 million.

        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Defence Committee rejected a government proposal to give the Slovenian Armed Forces limited police powers to control the border that the government said was essential to help relieve the burden on police officers so that they could better be deployed to help keep the coronavirus epidemic in check. The proposal to activate Article 37.a of the defence law was endorsed by coalition MPs and an opposition party, but this was not enough to secure the required two-thirds majority.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of coronavirus cases in Slovenia rose by 56 in a day to 897, with one more death and death toll at 16. This was out of 24,857 tests taken. As many as 162 of those infected are care home residents and 32 are care home staff.
        LJUBLJANA - Dozens Slovenians returned home on flights organised by the Foreign Ministry and were ordered a 14-day self-isolation; a plane from Lisbon carrying 16 Slovenians touched down, and another 20 arrived home from Thailand, the Philippines and Switzerland by bus from Zurich airport. The ministry said no more special flights would be organised from distant locations after 6 April.
        LJUBLJANA - Three teams of journalists of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija were assaulted in recent days; in two cases they were harassed verbally, and in another the company's vehicle was damaged. The incidents were condemned by the Journalists' Association (DNS) and politicians.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and his Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid discussed the coronavirus pandemic and measures to contain over the phone, agreeing on mutual assistance should the respective country need it. While endorsing measures taken by their government to curb the outbreak, Pahor and Kaljulaid stressed democratic values and the rule of law must be respected.
        NEW YORK, US - A group of Slovenians from the US boarded a special Hungarian plane in New York. After landing in Budapest, they were to be transported to the Hungarian-Slovenian border, where they were to be tested before going into a 14-day isolation or quarantine in Slovenia.
        NAZARJE - BSH Hišni Aparati, which was one of the first large manufacturers in Slovenia to halt production over the epidemic, is also among the first to resume business. The company, the largest producer of small household appliances in Europe, operated at 15% of capacity on Monday and hopes to be at 50% next week, its director Boštjan Gorjup told the buesiness newspaper Finance.
        LJUBLJANA - Robert Šumi, a researcher at the Police Academy, took over as the new head of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption for a six-year term, replacing controversial Boris Štefanec, whose term ended in March.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is yet to implement 13 rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which makes it one of the countries with the lowest number of such rulings, according to the Council of Europe's annual report on the supervision of the execution of the court's judgements and decisions for 2019.

        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed by 53 votes to one a EUR 3 billion stimulus package aiming to cushion the impact of coronavirus on Slovenia's economy and society. The umbrella law brings financial assistance for companies and workers affected by the epidemic as well as for the self-employed, pensioners, students, large families and welfare recipients. It also includes a toned-down expansion of police powers. PM Janez Janša announced a second package which will include corrections to the first law, while a third one would set out an "exit strategy after the government takes a decision on the end of the epidemic."
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša called for a determined and coordinated action in the face of the coronavirus epidemic at national and European levels in an interview with the European Post. "In normal circumstances, and in principle, I am strongly against that those who perform better automatically support all others. But for this pandemic circumstances, issuing a common debt instrument would send out a strong signal of unity and solidarity," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar expressed regret that Slovenia is lagging behind in NATO defence goals after taking part in a teleconferenced ministerial of the alliance. Talking over the phone to Slovenian reporters, he said that past governments should have given more funds to the military and regretted they had not carried out the planned military equipment acquisitions.
        LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije posted a group net profit of EUR 1.2 million for 2019, a fraction of the EUR 33.3 million it recorded in 2018, largely due to a one-off payment over a now dissolved media joint venture, Antenna TV SL. Group net sales stood at EUR 675.4 million, 6% below the 2018 level.
        LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of NLB okayed the proposal of the management board to convene a shareholders meeting for 15 June. The country's leading bank, which was privatised last year, announced shareholders would vote on a proposal that the entire EUR 228.04 million in distributable profit remain undistributed for the time being.
        LJUBLJANA - Only nine out of 13 points on the Slovenian-Austrian border remain open after the Austrian government put in place additional restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus. The border points at Karavanke, Šentilj (the motorway and rail crossing), Gornja Radgona and Kuzma will operate around the clock.

All our posts in this series are here

27 Mar 2020, 20:01 PM

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

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FRIDAY, 20 March
        LJUBLJANA - Sweeping lockdown measures came into effect in Slovenia with the movement and gathering of people in public places banned until further notice with exemptions that allow society to function. This was as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 341.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed the first package of laws aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus crisis, including subsidised pay for temporarily laid-off workers, credit payment and tax duty deferrals for companies, as well as trade restrictions for agriculture and food products. One act gives the government complete discretion in the use of budget funds approved for purposes not deemed part of legally binding tasks.
        LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec assured the public that there was enough basic foodstuffs in Slovenia for a few months with backup plans in place in case of disruption to existing food supply chains. She indicated the possibility of occasional problems in supply of imported fresh fruit and vegetables.
        LJUBLJANA - Facing a strike threat in protest against an emergency decree forcing grocery stores to be open from 8am to 8pm, the government pushed the closing time to 6pm, as demanded by the trade union of shop assistants. The restrictions do not apply to smaller retailers.
        LJUBLJANA - To ease the impact of the coronavirus fallout, the government issued a decree suspending certain contributions on electricity bills that will result in about 20% lower cost of power for households and small businesses until 31 May.
        LJUBLJANA - The governing council of the National Public Health Institute appointed Ivan Eržen acting director after the government relieved Nina Pirnat of her duties and moved her to the Health Ministry's Healthcare Directorate, unofficially due to her handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
        LJUBLJANA - Only days after being appointed, Miro Petek was dismissed as acting director of the Government Communication Office and replaced by Uroš Urbanija, a former STA home desk editor, who also worked as editor at the public broadcaster's news web portal MMC RTV Slovenija and commercial broadcaster Planet TV.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Centre of Excellence for Biosensors, Instrumentation and Process Control joined efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine in cooperation with Slovenian and international companies, research institutes and universities. Its head Matjaž Peterko said development could take between less than a year and a few years.

SATURDAY, 21 March
        LJUBLJANA/ŠMARJE PRI JELŠAH - The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country rose by 42 to 383 with a total of 12,162 tests performed. Prime Minister Janez Janša visited the town of Šmarje pri Jelšah, the site of the second largest outbreak in the country, where the nursing home became a major hotspot.
        LJUBLJANA - Jelko Kacin, the spokesman for the government coronavirus crisis response unit, threatened that a ban would be imposed restricting people's movement to their municipality, a plan later shelved because of a low number of violations of existing lockdown measures.
        LJUBLJANA - Public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, the Journalists' Association (DNS) and the Journalists' Trade Union condemned a Twitter post by Prime Minister Janez Janša in which he accused TV Slovenija of lying after running an interview with a trade unionist who expressed indignation about the pay rise for ministers and state secretaries. The government later announced a 30% cut in public office holders' pay during the epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - After the first week of school closure due to the Covid-19 epidemic, Education Minister Simona Kustec found that remote schooling was going very well while problems of some 700 students without access to computer or internet were being addressed.

SUNDAY, 22 March
        LJUBLJANA/METLIKA - Slovenia recorded a second coronavirus fatality as the number of confirmed cases rose by 31 in the past day to 414. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar said that both patients who had died were in their 90s and had underlying health issues. The latest fatality was an elderly woman from the Metlika nursing home, like the man who died just over a week earlier. Visiting the facility, PM Janez Janša pledged an all out effort to supply enough protective equipment.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia sent emergency relief aid to Croatia in response to the neighbouring country's appeal for help via the European civil protection mechanism after a magnitude 5.3 earthquake hit the capital of Zagreb in the morning. Slovenia dispatched ten tents equipped to accommodate up to 80 people with 60 beds and 60 sleeping bags and 20 heating devices, valued at EUR 107,000.
        KLAGENFURT/GRAZ, Austria, KRŠKO - The Krško Nuclear Power Station (NEK) reported that a preventive examination of systems and equipment had not detected any damage or impact on operations caused by a severe earthquake in Zagreb that was felt in Slovenia as well. The Nuclear Safety Administration said the power station, situated near the border with Croatia and hence close to the earthquake's epicentre, operated normally. Meanwhile, several Austrian politicians reiterated their calls for the closure of Slovenia's sole nuclear power plant.

MONDAY, 23 March
        LJUBLJANA - A 67-year-old man with multiple underlying conditions died at the infectious diseases department at the UKC Ljubljana hospital in the third coronavirus-related death in the country as the number of confirmed cases rose by 28 in a day to 442. As many as 13,812 tests were conducted, as rules changed to expand testing to persons older than 60, those with other risk conditions and those with immunodeficiency disorders even if they only have mild symptoms.
        LJUBLJANA - After halving its economic growth forecast for Slovenia for 2020 to 1.5% less than a fortnight ago, the government economic think-tank IMAD projected a 6-8% contraction in the country's GDP due the worsening coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) found 93% of the companies surveyed had serious difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic and its ramifications, with 40% expecting a more than 70% drop in revenue in March, a further 18% expect to halve their revenue and as many project a fall of at least 30%. The chamber estimated a stimulus package of between EUR 2-4 billion was needed to avert an economic and social crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar revealed following a videoconference with his EU counterparts that more than 1,000 Slovenians were still looking to get repatriated amid the travel restrictions across the globe prompted by the pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - A public opinion poll conducted for the commercial broadcaster POP TV before the lockdown measures, put the voter approval rating for the government at 45.4% and the ruling Democrats (SDS) in the lead among parties on 20%.
        LJUBLJANA - Jernej Pintar, director of the Ljubljana Technology Park, told the newspaper Finance that several groups of engineers were developing various types of ventilators to meet the demand among a growing number of Covid-19 patients; the first prototypes were turned on the day before after development of several versions started over a week ago.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Social Democrats (SD) announced that MP Franc Trček, who left the opposition Left after the National Assembly appointed the Janez Janša cabinet, was joining their deputy faction, which hence members eleven deputies in the 90-strong lower chamber.

TUESDAY, 24 March
        LJUBLJANA - The government presented a package of economic stimulus measures worth roughly EUR 2 billion designed to protect jobs and keep society in general functioning through the crisis. The measures, yet to be hashed out in the form of legislation, include loan guarantees for companies, purchase of claims to companies, co-financing of social contributions, temporary basic income for the self-employed and a one-off allowance for pensioners. Matej Lahovnik, the economist who heads a special task force of economists and executives advising the government on the measures, said this was the biggest stimulus ever in Slovenian history. PM Janez Janša and Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj assured the public that the funds to finance the package were sufficient, with reliable sources available to tap into. Both the opposition and businesses welcomed the package.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded the fourth coronavirus-related death as an elderly woman died at the Šmarje pri Jelšah nursing home, one of the hotspots of the coronavirus epidemic in the country. The woman had multiple underlying chronic conditions and died "at a very advanced age". The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Slovenia was up by 38 in a day to 480.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia issued EUR 850 million worth of three-year bonds and increased by EUR 250 million the existing 10-year bond issue due in March 2029. The newspaper Finance reported that the required yield on the three-year bond is 0.253% and 0.695% on the nine-year debt.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan welcomed the decision of EU European affairs ministers who agreed via videoconference to let Albania and North Macedonia begin accession talks after a series of setbacks. Dovžan said the step was a vital political signal for the region indicating a path to EU membership. He also stressed the importance of the EU's practical approach in tackling other open issues in the Western Balkans.
        LJUBLJANA - The Agency for Public Legal Records (AJPES) said that 779 sole proprietors had closed shop due to coronavirus-related measures between 1 and 20 March, which is 44% more than in the same period last year, 48% more than had been the case for 1-20 February and 29% more than in the 1-20 January period.
        LJUBLJANA - Fresh police data showed an increase in the flow of illegal migrants across the Slovenian border despite the coronavirus pandemic, a trend attributed to warmer weather. Last week alone, 234 migrants were recorded, but no one tested positive for the novel virus. Slovenian police recorded 1,165 cases of people crossing the border illegally in the first two months of the year, an increase of 80% compared with the same period a year ago.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Večer reported that former Istrabenz CEO Igor Bavčar and former Laško CEO Boško Šrot were allegedly among some 130 prisoners who were released early as a result of efforts to stem the coronavirus spread.
        LJUBLJANA - Due to plummeting of global oil prices amid the Russia-Saudi price war and the coronavirus turmoil, administered fuel prices in Slovenia slumped to a multi-year low. The price of regular sold at service stations outside the motorway network fell 17.6 cents to EUR 1.029 per litre, the lowest since May 2009, and diesel was down 12.9 cents to EUR 1.017, the lowest since March 2016.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Olympic Committee (OKS) chairman Bogdan Gabrovec welcomed the decision to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, saying that common sense had prevailed. The OKS called on the government to include sport in its measures to mitigate the crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian basketball player Luka Dončić, one of the key players of the Dallas Mavericks and former member of Real Madrid, was named to the EuroLeague's 2010-2020 All-Decade Team, as a third pick after Spanish Juan Carlos Navarro and American Kyle Hines.

        VIENNA, Austria - Drago Jančar, arguably Slovenia's leading contemporary writer, won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature 2020. The life-time achievement award, handed out each year, comes with a check of EUR 25,000. "Taking an individual to penetratingly render understandable the delusions of our history: this is one of the big strengths of his literature," the jury wrote about the 71-year-old.
        LJUBLJANA - A fifth coronavirus-related death in Slovenia was confirmed as another resident died in the Šmarje pri Jelšah nursing home, one of the hotspots of the epidemic in the country. The number of people infected rose by 48, the largest daily increase, to 526, 73 of whom healthcare workers.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reintroduced border checks with Austria at 13 checkpoints to restrict access to the country because of the coronavirus epidemic. The same rules already apply on the Italian border.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to wait before it formally proposes the activation of a legislative provision that gives the military limited police powers in controlling the border, saying it plans to consult parliamentary groups as a two-third majority is needed in parliament. The article's invocation had been endorsed by President Borut Pahor in his capacity of commander-in-chief of the Slovenian Armed Forces.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Nine EU leaders, including Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša, called for eurozone countries to jointly issue debt, a coronabond, in order to fight the devastating impact of coronavirus on the European economies, in a letter to President of the European Council Charles Michel.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor endorsed the government action to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Slovenia as well as the EUR 2 billion stimulus package. In an interview broadcast on TV Slovenija, Pahor said the composition of the group of experts advising the government on the crisis measures inspired great confidence, and the measures themselves were a step in the right direction.
        LJUBLJANA - The first of two convoys designed to repatriate Serbian citizens stranded in Slovenia due to Serbia closing its borders to curb the coronavirus epidemic, including to its own citizens, headed for the country after the Slovenian government reached an agreement with Serbia to organise transport for around 400 Serbian citizens returning from other European countries. The other convoy left for Serbia on 26 March.
        LJUBLJANA - A major shipment of much needed personal protective equipment arrived in Slovenia from the Czech Republic as an increasing number of businesses were joining the effort to meet the needs. A plane carrying 25,700 surgical masks and 5,000 protective suits landed at Ljubljana airport. This was following the 23 March shipment of 125,000 surgical masks, 93,000 pairs of gloves, 856 Tyvek suits, 20,000 head covers and 2,550 shoe covers. Two companies in Slovenia launched protective face mask production.
        LJUBLJANA - The government's emergency response unit, set up on 13 March to help manage the response to the coronavirus crisis, was dissolved after all capacities attached to the unit had been taken over by the relevant ministries and their departments.
        LJUBLJANA - The government formally submitted to UNESCO the multi-national bid for placing the Lipizzan horse breeding and related practices on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Slovenian-led bid to include the tradition in the longer of the two UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists also includes Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovakia.

THURSDAY, 26 March
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Janez Janša, National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič and National Council President Alojz Kovšca met to discuss the functioning of political institutions and joint action during the coronavirus crisis. They said action must be effective but also democratic so as to prevent a decline of trust in democratic institutions.
        LJUBLJANA - A resident of the Metlika nursing home died of complications caused by the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of Covid-19-related deaths in Slovenia to six. Total number of Covid-19 cases confirmed so far is 562, with a A total of 17,294 tests having been conducted.
        LJUBLJANA - The central bank said in its latest report that the banking system remained strong capital- and liquidity-wise but should now brace for a fast drop in profitability. A total of EUR 15.4 million in pre-tax profit for banks in Slovenia was reported for January, a 61% decrease year-on-year.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey showed that Slovenians are still worried about the coronavirus epidemic, but an increasing number (57%) believe the situation is improving. Only a week ago, over 50% of those polled said the situation was getting worse.
        LJUBLJANA - The Manager Association said it had elected Medeja Lončar, the director of Siemens Slovenija and CEO of Siemens Hrvatska, its new president. Lončar, who is succeeding Aleksander Zalaznik after he served two three-year terms, has been among the leading entrepreneurs in Slovenia and Croatia and already served as the association's vice-president in the previous term.

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