Ljubljana related

14 Dec 2019, 04:15 AM

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A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Šarec deems Brexit likely by the end of January

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Commenting on the Conservatives' landslide victory in the UK general election, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said that the outcome was "completely expected". PM Boris Johnson made the implementation of Brexit his mission and that was the message of his election campaign, so the UK is likely to leave the EU by the end of January after all, said Šarec on the sidelines of the EU summit. Šarec believes a trade agreement with the UK could be reached next year if talks were conducted quickly.

PM happy with carbon neutrality 2050 target for EU

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec expressed satisfaction that nearly all EU members had reached an agreement on carbon neutrality by 2050, saying Slovenia was happy that each member state determines its own energy mix in sustainable energy transition. He warned however that carbon neutrality should not come at the expense of cohesion funding. He indicated that Slovenia would seek to substitute thermal energy with nuclear in its energy mix.

Angelika Mlinar granted request for dual citizenship by Austria

LJUBLJANA - Angelika Mlinar, the former Austrian MEP who has been nominated for Slovenian cohesion minister, received approval from the Austrian government to become a dual Austrian-Slovenian citizen. Mlinar is expected to officially become a Slovenian citizen on Monday, after the government yesterday granted her citizenship request in a fast-track procedure permitted by Slovenian law. The Alenka Bratušek Party expects Mlinar to be appointed next week to succeed Iztok Purič, who stepped down.

Left urges Palestine recognition

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left made a renewed appeal on the government to push for Palestine's recognition at EU level. If the EU fails to reach a consensus on the matter by the end of March 2020, the government should adopt a decision to recognise Palestine and submit it to parliament, the party said. The call came after the US changed its policy on Israeli settlements on the West Bank and after Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn urged the EU start debate Palestine's recognition.

Insurers rubbish plans to abolish top-up insurance

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Insurers' Association expressed grave concern over the proposed legislation that would effectively end the current system of compulsory and top-up health insurance as of 2021 in favour of a fully-fledged single-payer system. It believes this would have harmful long-term effects. The proposal, to be debated by parliament next week, also earned criticism from he public health fund manager ZZZS, which said the proposed lump sum contribution of 29 euro replacing the top-up insurance was too low to maintain stability of healthcare funding.

Nine vying to become next anti-graft boss

LJUBLJANA - Nine candidates have submitted applications to become the next president of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, including incumbent president Boris Štefanec and his deputy Uroš Novak. The other candidates are Supreme Court adviser Tina Brecelj, head of the Ribnica administrative unit Primož Bučan, Faculty of Security Studies professor Robert Šumi, TV journalist Rajko Gerič, senior official at the government's legal service Janez Pogorelec, driving school manager Rajko Marković and pensioner Jožef Majer.

Slovenia 13th in Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index

SEOUL, South Korea - Slovenia ranks 13th in the latest Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index compiled by Solability, a sustainability think tank based in Switzerland and South Korea, among a total of 180 countries. Scoring 53.8 points, Slovenia fared best in terms of governance efficiency, trailing only Ireland and the Czech Republic. Id did worst in natural capital and resource management. The index is topped by the Nordic countries with Sweden at the top (60.6 pts).

Šoštanj people want referendum on co-incineration

ŠOŠTANJ - A civil initiative from Šoštanj, home to the TEŠ coal-fired power station, turned to the municipality with a request for a referendum on TEŠ's plans to branch out into co-incineration of non-hazardous waste. The Šoštanj municipality is to response to the request for a local referendum, which had been filed on Thursday, in the coming days. The initiative wants the vote because no monitoring of waste co-incineration had been conducted in Slovenia yet and the locals refuse to be guinea pigs.

Slovenia below EU average in per capita GDP and consumption

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Slovenia ranked below the EU average in terms of actual individual consumption, as well as in terms of GDP per capita in 2018, according to fresh data from Eurostat, the EU's statistical office. Actual individual consumption (AIC) is a measure of material welfare of households. Expressed in purchasing power standards, AIC per capita in Slovenia reached 87% of the EU average. Slovenia was also at 87% of the EU average by GDP per capita expressed in PPS.

Energy group Petrol has ambitious plans for 2020

LJUBLJANA - The energy group Petrol has ambitious plans for 2020, with net profit expected to reach EUR 110 million, gross profit EUR 510 million and sales revenue EUR 6.4 billion. For this year, Petrol projects EUR 5.6 billion in sales revenue and almost 97 million in net profit. It is on pace to reaching these targets, with sales revenue standing at EUR 4.19 billion and net profit at EUR 80 million in the first nine months. The 2020 business plan was endorsed by the supervisory board on Thursday.

Luka Koper plans higher revenue, lower profit for 2020

KOPER - Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's sole sea port Koper, plans to increase net sales revenue in 2020 by 4% against 2019, while net profit is planned 19% below this year's EUR 39 million. The cargo transshipped next year should rise by 3% from this year's estimated 23.4 million tonnes. Net sales revenue for 2019 is estimated at EUR 228.5 million and net profit at EUR 39.4 million The company's strategic plan, projects a 24% growth in sales revenue to EUR 279.4 million by 2025.

Iberia to fly to Ljubljana next summer

LJUBLJANA - Spanish airline Iberia will fly to Ljubljana next summer season, according to the EX-YU Aviation News portal. Iberia will start to fly from Madrid to Ljubljana's Jože Pučnik International Airport and back on 28 July, operating four flights a week for five weeks. Several other airlines will increase the number of their flights to the Slovenian capital after Adria Airways went bankrupt. The airport is expected to fully compensate for the loss of Adria's passengers in 2021.

Dončić most searched on Google in 2019

LJUBLJANA - Google published the most trending items in Slovenia's online searches in 2019. The name on every Slovenian's lips has been apparently NBA star Luka Dončić since he claimed the top spot, followed by information on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Eurovision Song Contest. Dončić was most popular in January when the online 2019 NBA All-Star voting took place. After inding out that the 20-year-old had not made the cut despite massive support, Slovenian Google users' interest in the topic waned.

Forex fraudster jailed after a decade on the run

LJUBLJANA - A Slovenian man charged with defrauding dozens of investors of over a million euros in multiple foreign exchange transactions in the early 2000s was sentenced to three years in prison after spending a decade on the run from law enforcement. Miran Oblak received the sentence at the Kranj District Court after pleading guilty to seven counts of fraud, each in excess of EUR 50,000. Several other charges were dropped because they became statute-barred.

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12 Dec 2019, 21:25 PM

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A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

PM: Finnish EU budget proposal bad for Slovenia

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec assessed that the Finnish presidency's proposal for the EU's next long-term budget is very bad for Slovenia, because it would cut its cohesion funds by 28% compared to the current period. Šarec revealed the figures as he arrived in Brussels for an EU summit, which was to discuss the latest proposal for the multi-annual financial framework for 2021-2027. Slovenia is one of the countries that stands to lose the most in funding.

Slovenia supports carbon neutrality for EU by 2050, PM says

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia wants the EU to have a carbon-neutral footprint by 2050, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said as he arrived for an EU summit. He added that Slovenia would not be able to reach this goal without shutting down the Šoštanj thermal power plant, which covers 25% of the country's energy needs. This is also why the government has launched a discussion about building a new nuclear generator at the nuclear power plant in Krško.

Slovenia joins calls for more ambitious climate action

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has joined a Green Group call for more ambitious measures in the face of climate change at the climate conference in Madrid. "The members of the Green Group highlighted the need in a joint statement for a comprehensive management of water resources and for better understanding the impact of climate change on water security, and committed to using water as an instrument for promoting peace and cooperation," the Foreign Ministry said.

Pahor confident that border with Croatia would eventually follow arbitration award

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor expressed confidence in an interview with Radio Slovenija that in time, border between Slovenia and Croatia will run along the line defined by the arbitration tribunal in 2017. "Imagine what Croatia would give to support its position with a tribunal decision... These small victories, celebrated by Croatia, may be legitimate, but they are futile," he said a day after it was announced that the advocate general handling Slovenia's case against Croatia over EU law violations at the European Court of Justice deemed the case inadmissible.

Jurist deems advocate general's opinion unconvincing

LJUBLJANA - Having studied Advocate General Priit Pikamäe's opinion on the admissibility of Slovenia's case against Croatia over the border arbitration award, law professor Matej Avbelj said that Pikamäe had not set out his arguments in a very convincing way and that he was running the risk that the EU Court of Justice would not adopt his opinion. Avbelj, professor at the Graduate School of Government and European Studies, opined that the advocate general had needlessly exposed himself to political criticism by expressing his own value judgement, regret that a final resolution of the border issue not reached, which Avbelj said in fact was.

Official at centre of arbitration scandal takes parliament to court

LJUBLJANA - Simona Drenik Bavdek, the government official at the centre of a scandal that led to Croatia renouncing the border arbitration procedure in 2015, filed a lawsuit seeking withdrawal of a parliamentary report on the scandal that incriminates her. She asked the Administrative Court to rule that her human rights have been violated. Drenik Bavdek is not seeking a temporary injunction or damages, she believes that "establishing her rights have been violated is sufficient," her attorney said.

Govt endorses minister hopeful Mlinar's citizenship request

LJUBLJANA - The government granted the citizenship request by Angelika Mlinar, a former Austrian MEP who had been nominated to head the government office in charge of cohesion policy, under provisions of the citizenship act typically used to fast-track athletes' applications. It said the request had merit in that "there is interest by the Republic of Slovenia in admitting the person in question into citizenship." The Interior Ministry will now issue a formal citizenship decision.

Slovenian and Hungarian defence ministers on strengthening cooperation

BLED - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec hosted his Hungarian counterpart Tibor Benko at the lake resort of Bled for a discussion about the security situation in the region and about ways to bolster bilateral and regional defence and military cooperation. According to the Defence Ministry, the highlighted that the collaboration in both areas was extensive and intense.

President appeals on behalf of Afghan asylum seeker

LJUBLJANA - The office of President Borut Pahor asked the Interior Ministry to closely examine the case of an Afghan who is facing deportation from Slovenia, as it believes his stands out from usual cases. This comes as NGOs have again called on the authorities not to deport Noor, who has found a home and has family in the town of Novo Mesto. The call comes after two Slovenian NGOs urged Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina last week not to allow the Afghan, who has has lived in Slovenia since 2015, has a family here and speaks the language, to be deported.

European left checking out migrant situation in SE Slovenia

ČRNOMELJ - Representatives of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) visited Črnomelj area to assess the migrant situation there on route to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Following a talk with migrants, German MEP Cornelia Ernst said the delegation had noted good practices in Slovenia as well as a number of issues, including "police violence against refugees", as well as consecutive pushbacks of migrants into Croatia.

Minister sees no need for army to patrol border at the moment

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar told MPs that giving army members extra powers to help the police patrol the border had been considered, but that illegal migration numbers had since fallen so there was currently no reason for that. The minister made the comments as he addressed a session of the parliamentary Interior Affairs Committee, called by the opposition Democrats (SDS) to urge invoking a special article of the defence act which was passed in 2015 and which allows deploying the army on the border by giving soldiers powers on a par with those of the police.

EU healthcare overview finds shortcomings and improvements in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's healthcare faces many challenges but positive shifts have been detected, according to the biannual State of Health in the EU 2019 report. Life expectancy has grown considerably since 2000, although there are substantial differences between the genders and socio-economic groups. Moreover, the country has made a positive shift to utilising preventative programmes. Long waiting periods remain a problem and there has also been no progress in reforming fiscal sustainability of the system and the long-term care system.

Blueprint ready for state housing loan guarantee scheme

LJUBLJANA - The Finance Ministry presented a blueprint for a law introducing government guarantees for housing loans. These would be fully guaranteed up to EUR 150,000 in principal provided the borrower provides 20% in the form of own funds. Finance Ministry State Secretary Alojz Stana said the scheme was aimed at the young up to the age of 35, young families and those in fixed-term or precarious forms of employment not older than 40. Guarantees for up to EUR 500 million in principal would be available.

Auditors to check 30 major Petrol transactions

LJUBLJANA - Auditors will check major deals concerning the acquisition and disposal of financial investments, other types of investments and sponsorship contracts that energy firm Petrol has concluded since the start of 2015 under a resolution that Petrol shareholders adopted at an extraordinary general meeting. The resolution was the result of a compromise between two major shareholders, the business empire of Darij Južna and Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH).

Govt to allocate EUR 10m for European Capital of Culture 2025

LJUBLJANA - The government said it would allocate EUR 10 million in 2021-2026 to support projects the Slovenian town to be designated a European Capital of Culture for 2025 will host. The funds will be planned in the revised national budget for 2021 and in the budgets to follow until 2026. Several cities have so far announced their bids, including Ljubljana, Kranj, Nova Gorica, Piran, Lendava and Ptuj.

New monument marks centenary of Prekmurje reunification with Slovenia

MURSKA SOBOTA - A monument marking the 100th anniversary of the reunification of Slovenia and its north-eastern region of Prekmurje was unveiled in a Murska Sobota park. Designed by sculptor Mirsad Begić, it consists of a granite block and cast bronze heads representing historic personalities from the region. Slovenia's first President Milan Kučan said that in addition to fostering historical memory, the monument was a symbol of the confidence and pride of the local people.

Parliamentary body says schools should teach more about Slovenians abroad

LJUBLJANA - The Commission for Slovenians Abroad believes school programmes should devote more attention to Slovenians abroad, especially to their achievements in arts and science. Having gotten acquainted with a report on the inclusion of topics related to Slovenians living in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia in curricula in primary and secondary schools, the parliamentary working body recommended the government take this into account during the next revision of school curricula.

State to assume EUR 30m in annual costs from local communities

LJUBLJANA - The cabinet adopted a bill relieving municipalities of some EUR 30 million in annual costs at the expense of the government, effectively compensating for its refusal to raise the per capita budget transfers for local governments. Under the bill, the government will assume the obligation to pay certain costs which are currently covered by municipalities, including basic health insurance for unemployed persons.

Soldiers get new, improved boots a year after frostbite reports

LJUBLJANA - Just over a year after Slovenian soldiers allegedly got frostbite due to poor footwear during a military exercise, the military received 12,000 pairs of new boots. After complaints b soldiers, the Defence Ministry performed tests on the boots. The results showed that the boots met all the requirements, even surpassing them. Nevertheless, Alpina decided to improve the footwear in conjunction with the army.

Enterprise software companies Saop and Mit joining forces

LJUBLJANA - Saop and Mit Informatika, which specialise in enterprise software, signed a business combination agreement that creates a new major player on the Slovenian IT market that they say will be better equipped to compete with global software providers. Saop acquired the smaller Mit Informatika outright for an undisclosed sum.

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12 Dec 2019, 03:52 AM

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A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

EU court advised not to hear Slovenia vs Croatia suit

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg/LJUBLJANA - Advocate General Priit Pikamäe proposed the EU Court of Justice rule Slovenia's case against Croatia over its failure to implement the border arbitration award inadmissible. He argued the case was an international border dispute outside the scope of EU law and thus not under the court's jurisdiction. While the opinion came as a surprise and some think it does not bode well for the fate of the procedure, it does not prejudge the court's final decision on admissibility. Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said Pikamäe's reasoning is weak and had "absolutely no effect on the validity of the arbitration award". Legal experts likewise said the opinion did not change much, but they indicated Slovenia might have to look for a solution beyond the courts.

Chinese foreign minister expected in Slovenia on Saturday

LJUBLJANA - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay a visit to Slovenia on Saturday, the first visit by a Chinese foreign policy chief since 2008. The focus of talks will be on economic cooperation, Slovenia Foreign Minister Miro Cerar told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee. Wang will be received by Cerar, President Borut Pahor, PM Marjan Šarec and Speaker Dejan Židan, as part of a visit that Cerar said "rounds off the foreign policy strategy" of completing talks with all members of the UN Security Council in the early stages of the government's term.

Environment minister praises European Green Deal

LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Simon Zajc welcomed the European Green Deal, a new growth strategy unveiled by the European Commission today, saying it is "bravely leading us into the only possible future - a carbon-neutral future". The strategy ensures a just transition to facilitate a green shift in the most vulnerable sectors and regions, including Slovenia's mining regions, he was quoted in the Environment Ministry's press release. The European Green Deal aims for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, with its key part being the EU Just Transition Fund.

Minister underlines need for cooperation at COP25

MADRID, Spain - Paris Agreement implementation will require the cooperation of everyone, Slovenia's minister in charge of the environment Simon Zajc said at the annual UN climate change conference, or COP25, on Tuesday. He believes adapting to climate change will require stronger international cooperation and expects COP25 to produce an implementation rulebook, the Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry said in today's press release. It added Slovenia was part of a group of six small ambitious European countries that advocated raising environmental issues in international relations.

Slovenian, Macedonian interior ministers discuss migration

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar and his Macedonian counterpart Oliver Spasovski discussed migration on the Western Balkan route and bilateral cooperation in interior affairs and police matters as they met in Ljubljana. The ministers agreed joint policy and cooperation of all Western Balkan countries was needed for the effective management of migration, exchange of information and fight against organised crime, with Poklukar saying this cooperation was "key". Spasovski added it was important the relevant agreement between Turkey and the EU remained in force.

Top officials meet to discuss election law, provinces, climate

LJUBLJANA - Election legislation, provinces and climate change ranked prominently as the country's top four officials met for an end-of-year reception, with President Borut Pahor saying changes to election legislation should be ready for parliamentary procedure at the start of 2020. Turning to provinces, he said that a task force of the National Council had done an excellent job in preparing guidelines for legislative changes. The president, prime minister and the presidents of both chambers of parliament agreed the finance minister should get involved in the drawing up of a bill on the financing of provinces in the next two months.

Govt criticised for poor management of telecoms incumbent

LJUBLJANA - The government heard sharp criticism from the opposition as the parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Public Finances debated the management of the state's stake in national telco Telekom Slovenije. The opposition-controlled commission thus asked the government to order Slovenia Sovereign Holding (SSH) to draw up a report on the management of the stake and a report on Telekom's conduct concerning a loss-making media joint venture with Grece's Antenna Group. SSH chairman Gabrijel Škof dismissed the criticism, saying Telekom's performance was good, even compared to its competitor A1 Slovenija.

Erjavec attends inauguration of NATO aircraft training centre in Zadar

ZADAR, Croatia - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec attended the inauguration of an aircraft training centre set up in the framework of NATO's Multinational Special Aviation Programme, saying the centre was very important for the strengthening of interoperability. The project implements last year's agreement between Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia on the setting up of a training centre for helicopter crews for special military operations. "We know that all our countries have similar capabilities and it is good that we are working together and see how we can join forces when it comes to special helicopter units," Erjavec told the STA.

Mercator group expects EUR 2.3 billion in revenue in 2020

LJUBLJANA - The group around the Slovenian retailer Mercator plans to generate EUR 2.3 billion in revenue in 2020 and EUR 110 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), figures higher than those expected to be posted this year, shows the 2020 business plan. The group's investments in 2020 are budgeted at EUR 44 million, of which 57% will be allocated to projects in Slovenia. Mercator plans to open 28 new shops next year and refurbish 65 shops in all its markets. The group also is planning further deleveraging. While the net debt to EBITDA ratio in 2016 was at 14.1, the plan is to slash this ratio to 4.5 by the end of 2020.

Supervision of intel agency hiring to continue

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services will continue digging into hiring at the intelligence agency SOVA, having detected "a systemic problem" in recruitment practices after looking into the employment of a friend of PM Marjan Šarec. It also plans to interview Šarec himself and his State Secretary Damir Črnčec, a former SOVA boss. The decision was announced a day after the commission conducted several interviews after the Public Sector Inspectorate found irregularities in recruitment policies and practices but declared them minor infringements that did not merit sanctioning.

Paedophile priest convicted in Church criminal procedure

LJUBLJANA - A priest from the Murska Sobota diocese has been found guilty of sexual violence by the Vatican's top doctrinaire body and ordered to undergo therapy, in the latest chapter of a case that has caused a rift in a rural parish in eastern Slovenia, several media reported. Andrej Zrim, a priest at the Murska Sobota parish, has been "found guilty in an out-of-court criminal procedure of sexual violence against minors and adults in accordance with the instructions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith", according to a notice carried in the diocese bulletin in Murska Sobota. The case against him was brought by three families, who decided to use Church channels instead of going to the police.

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11 Dec 2019, 04:14 AM

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A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Tomaž Seljak appointed new chairman of Telekom Slovenije

LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of the telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije appointed Tomaž Seljak the new chairman for a full, four-year term. Seljak previously served as interim chairman following the resignation of Matjaž Merkan in mid-November. Seljak, who started his second term on the management board in May 2018, started working in Telekom Slovenije in 1997, becoming the head of the service in charge of the telecommunication cable network in 2004. Chief supervisor Barbara Kürner Čad said that "Telekom Slovenije needs continuity of management, which provides the company with stability, and excellent knowledge and experience in telecommunications."

Trade with non-EU markets pushing up Slovenia's external trade

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's external trade in goods continued to grow in October, despite a drop in trade with EU countries. However, imports rose at a faster rate year-on-year than exports, creating a trade deficit. According to the Statistics Office, exports rose by 7.1% year-on-year to almost EUR 3.08 billion in October, as imports increased by 7.6% to EUR 3.18 billion. The country posted a trade deficit of EUR 103 million, mostly due to increased imports from markets outside the EU. The export-import coverage for October was 96.8%.

Hiring outlook in Slovenia not so bright

LJUBLJANA - Employment prospects for Slovenia for the first quarter of 2020 are not as upbeat as they were for the last quarter of this year, shows the latest employment forecast by temping agency Manpower. The share of employers who plan to hire is only 7 percentage points higher than the share of employers who announced a drop in employment. "The employment outlook for Slovenia dropped by 13 percentage points compared to the same period last year, but is still positive," Gašper Kleč of Manpower Slovenia told the STA. He labelled the outlook for Q1 as "moderately optimistic", noting that companies would be faced with significant challenges at the beginning of next year.

Foreign minister calls for rules for ethical use of AI

BERLIN, Germany - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar advocated that rules be put in place for the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI), as he participated at the conference Advocating Human Rights in the 21st Century. Cerar participated in a panel debate on AI, saying that education was key to raising awareness about the challenges of artificial intelligence. He also held bilateral meetings with German counterpart Heiko Maas and Canadian colleague Francois-Philipp Champagne.

Motorway company sued over e-tolling contract

LJUBLJANA - Iskratel, the company that was outbid in a tender to build a motorway e-tolling system for lorries in 2016, has brought a EUR 17.7 million damages suit against the motorway company DARS, arguing that the annexes signed with the selected bidder since have materially changed the subject matter of the tender. The contract was won by the telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije in partnership with Norwegian company Q-Free, which submitted the lowest bid at just shy of EUR 100 million, ten million more than telecommunications equipment maker Iskratel and its Slovak partner SkyToll as the second cheapest bidder. Addressing reporters, Iskratel CEO Željko Puljić said he was convinced that DARS as well as the National Review Commission had abused the selection procedure.

Parties step in to support minister's sentient animals motion

LJUBLJANA - Four coalition parties and the Left have come to aid Justice Minister Andreja Katič in her efforts to define animals as sentient beings in the property code law, filing a relevant amendment to the government-proposed changes with the wording initially proposed by the Justice Ministry. In late November, the government adopted legislative changes that redefine animals, until now considered things by Slovenian legislation, as living beings. The government did not adopt the version proposed by the ministry defining animals as sentient beings, with Katič announcing she had already talked to MPs and expressing hope that the changes would be amended in parliament.

Industrial output up in October

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial output increased by 2.1% in October over September and by 2.7% compared to October 2018, the Statistics Office said. Output in manufacturing and in mining rose by 2.4% and 2.1%, respectively, over September, while dropping in electricity, gas and steam supply for the fourth month running, this time by 0.5%.
Consumer goods and capital goods industries rose by 6.3% and 1.3, respectively, from September. Industrial revenue likewise increased, by 2.7% over September and 3.1% over a year ago, mostly on account of 6.2% increases in sales abroad.

State aid up for second consecutive year in 2018

LJUBLJANA - The volume of state aid granted by Slovenia grew for the second consecutive year in 2018, according to a report released by the Finance Ministry. The figure rose by 12.7% to EUR 482 million over 2017, but was still below the levels in the period between 2011 and 2015, when the aid reached around EUR 550 million annually. State aid reached the equivalent of 1.05% of the country's GDP last year, while in 2017 it was at 0.99% of GDP. This was the second increase since 2013, when state aid and crisis measures in total reached the equivalent of 10.8% of GDP.

Election legislation reform raising issue about gender quotas

LJUBLJANA - Discussions on solutions aimed at increasing gender-balanced representation in Slovenia's electoral system and women's participation in politics has been bound to pop up during talks about reforming the election act, with today's debate hearing calls for higher gender quotas and adopting the zipper system. Bojana Muršič, an MP of the Social Democrats (SD) and the head of the Women Parliamentarians Club, said it was vital to address the issue of women's political participation. Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan agreed, saying that what is missing from the prepared changes to the election act is a proposal to raise gender quotas from the current 35% to 40%.

Fire at hazardous waste processing company upsets locals

KRANJ - A fire broke out last evening at Ekol, a hazardous waste processing plant near Kranj (NE), but the authorities say it has not polluted the air or water. It has, however, upset the locals, who have been warning for years about the hazard the Laze industrial zone poses to the environment and public health. Catching fire were textile and air filters kept under a projecting roof, whereas dangerous substances, stored at a different section, did not ignite. The tests carried out so far have shown no dangerous substances in the air or water. Ekol estimates the damage caused by the fire, which over 100 local firefighters put out in two hours, at around EUR 40,000.

Slovenia worse off in fighting climate change, report shows

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has ranked 44th in the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), dropping one place compared to last year. The country was graded 41.91 points, scoring the lowest in renewable energy and climate policy, while it did better in energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Slovenia was preceded by the Czech Republic and Argentina, and followed by Cyprus and Algeria. It got the lowest grade for its renewable resources strategy (25.64 points or 46th place) and climate policy (36.63 points or 45th place), while its performance in the energy use (51.06 points or 42nd place) and GHG emissions categories (48.11 points or 40th place) was better.

Plečnik stadium candidate for Europa Nostra protection

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A Ljubljana stadium designed by acclaimed architect Jože Plečnik in the 1920s has been shortlisted as one of the 14 pieces of European cultural heritage that could be put on a list of seven most endangered pieces. The 7 Most Endangered pieces of European heritage will be declared in March 2020, the European Commission Representation in Slovenia said. The stadium was nominated for protection within a campaign of the pan-European Europa Nostra organisation and the European Investment Bank Institute by the Ljubljana Association of Architects.

Exhibition showing five millennia of metallurgy in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - An exhibition on the use of metals in Slovenian lands will open in the evening at the National Museum in Ljubljana, providing insight into the tradition that has lasted more than five millennia, from the casting of copper in the 4th century BC to metals used in space technology. Also marking the 100th anniversary of the University of Ljubljana, the event aims at acquainting the public with the frequently overlooked role of metallurgy and metalworking in Slovenia. On display until 3 May 2020, it will be accompanied by presentations of job opportunities in metallurgy and workshops presenting ancient methods for extracting iron from the iron ore.

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10 Dec 2019, 04:45 AM

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Šarec visiting Slovenian troops in Balkans

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina/PRISHTINA, Kosovo - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec is visiting Slovenian soldiers deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo until Tuesday. Meeting top NATO and EUFOR officials in Sarajevo and Prishtina, Šarec heard praise of Slovenian troops. He said EUFOR and NATO presence in Bosnia was important for preserving stability in the region and stressed Slovenia was not considering scaling down its presence. Fourteen Slovenian soldiers are deployed in Bosnia and around 250 in Kosovo. Šarec also regretted the country transforming the Kosovo Security Force into a professional military force without changing the constitution.

FM: Slovenia not in favour of qualified majority decision-making

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia does not support making decisions by qualified or any other kind of majority in the EU foreign policy, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said after the EU's Foreign Affairs Council session. "Slovenia has never supported making decisions by qualified or any kind of majority. We advocate for the EU decision-making to be based on consensus," said Cerar. Nevertheless, the country has signed an informal document strengthening the foreign policy's efficiency, which could be interpreted as paving the way for qualified majority. However, Cerar said the document did not endorse qualified majority voting.

FM supports EU sanctioning human rights violations

BRUSSELS, Belgium - On the eve of Human Rights Day, the EU's Foreign Affairs Council agreed on launching preparations for a new EU sanctions regime to sanction human rights abusers, with Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar backing the move. The initiative is based on the US 2012 Magnitsky Act, which sanctions human rights offenders worldwide, freezing their assets and banning them from entering the US. Cerar also met the foreign ministers of North Macedonia and Albania, calling for starting EU accession talks with both countries by March next year.

Židan and Schäuble discuss EU presidency trio priorities

BERLIN, Germany - Speaker Dejan Židan met President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble for informal talks about the six-month EU presidency spells between July 2020 and December 2021 held successively by Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. They singled out green policies among the possible joint priority topics. After the meeting, Židan said the trio was close to aligning priority points. In addition to green policies, he and Schäuble also mentioned strengthening the EU and the rule of law.

Ex-MEP Mlinar nominated for cohesion minister despite citizenship issues

LJUBLJANA - The coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) nominated Angelika Mlinar, a former Austrian MEP and a member of the Slovenian minority in Austria, for cohesion policy minister. However, her appointment is not certain because it is not clear whether Austria will allow her to become a dual citizen after Mlinar applied for Slovenian citizenship last week. SAB leader Alenka Bratušek expects the issue to be resolved as soon as possible so that Mlinar could be appointed by 7 January, the deadline by which a new minister must be appointed. PM Marjan Šarec hopes the citizenship issue would be resolved swiftly for the new minister to be appointed already at the December session of parliament.

On eve of Human Rights Day, Ombudsman Svetina urges dignity

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina pointed to the need of dignity in everyday communication as he hosted an annual Human Rights Day reception on the eve of the international day, stressing that "all people are born free, have the same dignity and the same rights". He noted technological development had brought new challenges for human rights and stressed the state was losing touch with the real problems of the people. He also urged acting ethically in the public arena and criticised the authorities for not acting responsibly in addressing environmental changes.

Corruption perception in Slovenia above EU average

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A Eurobarometer survey released on International Anti-Corruption Day showed that nine out of ten Slovenian companies believe that corruption is widespread in the country, which compares to the EU average of 63%. However, the discrepancy between the perception and experience of corruption remains very high with 96% of the Slovenian companies surveyed saying they did not in fact experience state employees seeking a present, favour or extra money to issue key documents or permits. Marking Anti-Corruption Day, Transparency International Slovenia urged leading policy-makers to present further measures for implementing integrity and transparency.

Anti-graft watchdog head to seek reappointment

LJUBLJANA - Boris Šefanec, the head of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, announced he would seek reappointment despite his term being mired in controversy and criticism. Štefanec, whose six-year term expires at the end of March 2020 and who has already reached retirement age, has been criticised because of conflict with staff, which is seen as having hurt the watchdog's reputation. Štefanec disagrees, blaming the watchdog's inefficiency on unresponsive authorities.

Climate policy panel recommends declaring climate emergency

LJUBLJANA - The permanent consultative climate policy committee, a body attached to President Borut Pahor's office, recommended to the government and both chambers of parliament to consider declaring a climate and environmental emergency as soon possible. The seven-member panel also urged the Slovenian authorities to immediately draft and adopt ambitious, comprehensive and financially feasible measures to address the climate and environmental crisis.

Yaskawa preparing for expansion of Kočevje plant

KOČEVJE - Just seven months after launching production in Kočevje, Yaskawa Europe Robotics purchased land to expand production at the site. The 4.5-hectare plot was sold by the municipality for EUR 740,000. The existing plant produces industrial robots and houses Yaskawa's European centre for the development of robotics. The new plant will specialise in servo motors and controllers. The state supported the land purchase by providing basic infrastructure for the site worth about EUR 1.5 million.

SDS takes lead in two more polls

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) came ahead of the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) in two more public opinion polls. The poll run by the newspaper Delo has the SDS on 16.3%, up from 15.2% last month. The LMŠ gained 0.7 percentage points to 16.1%. The opposition Left in third lost nearly three points to 8.4%. A poll commissioned by the commercial broadcaster Nova24TV has the SDS at 26.5% ahead of the LMŠ on 24.4%, taking into account only decided respondents. The coalition SocDems switched places with the Left in third, polling at 11.3%. Voter approval rating for the government fell in both polls.

Incidents in Slovenian-Croatian Piran Bay continue

LJUBLJANA - Nearly two years since Slovenia implemented the course of the border as set by a Hague-based arbitration tribunal, there is no end to incidents in the Piran Bay, which it shares with Croatia. What is more, a 25% rise in Croatian police boats sailing into Slovenian waters has been recorded this year. Slovenian police processed 1,191 cases of Croatian patrol boats sailing into Slovenian waters from 1 January to 1 December, up 939 year on year, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) said. The police moreover processed 579 cases of Croatian fishing boats sailing into the Slovenian part of the bay between 29 December 2017, the day when Slovenia unilaterally implemented the arbitration decision, and the end of November 2019.

Financial Times ranks Faculty of Economics among top 95

LJUBLJANA - British business newspaper Financial Times has ranked the University of Ljubljana's School of Economics and Business among the 95 best business schools in Europe for the second consecutive time. The faculty sees this achievement as a recognition of its quality in the international arena. The ranking requires having at least one of the top international accreditations - the AACSB and EQUIS-accredited Ljubljana school has both as well as the AMBA accreditation, while its International Master in Business programme has been ranked as one of the best business programmes.

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09 Dec 2019, 05:04 AM

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Slovenia strongly integrated in international trade

LJUBLJANA - International trade in goods and services remained Slovenia's most important cross-border economic activity in 2018. The country was very well integrated in international merchandise trade, but fared worse in services, show the latest data released by the Statistics Office. The value of exports and imports of goods and services rose annually by 9.3% and 10.4%, respectively. The stock of inward foreign direct investment was up 8.6% year-on-year. The share of exports and imports of goods and services in the GDP reached 85.4% and 77.1%, respectively, putting Slovenia 5th and 7th among EU countries.

Polish film Acid Rain wins Animateka Grand Prix

LJUBLJANA - The Jury Grand Prix of the 16th Animateka international animated film festival has been bestowed on Acid Rain, a reflection on being lost spiritually, emotionally and geographically, by Polish director and animator Tomek Popakul. Acid Rain is set somewhere in Eastern Europe - a girl escapes her depressive hometown and meets an unstable misfit who lives in a trailer and walks a thin line between law and crime. The pair's journey then gets increasingly spine-chilling. The international jury prize, handed out on Saturday evening, comes with EUR 1,000 and is awarded to a film in the Eastern and Central European Competition Programme. The film also won the audience award.

Laibach releases Party Songs from North Korea

LJUBLJANA - Laibach, an internationally acclaimed Slovenian art and music group, has released a six-track EP, Party Songs, featuring previously unreleased songs from its much publicised concert in North Korea in 2015. The EP features three songs: Honourable, Dead or Alive, When Following the Revolutionary Road; We Will Go to Mount Paektu; and Arirang, with the first one presented in three different versions and the second one in two. The 22 November release was accompanied by a video for Honourable, Dead or Alive, When Following the Revolutionary Road, which features footage of a 2019 concert at Cankarjev Dom. 

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08 Dec 2019, 04:30 AM

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There's not much news this morning, but this summary is provided by the STA:

Pivka group ups revenue, profit

PIVKA - The Pivka group finished 2018 with a higher revenue and profit than in 2017 despite challenges in meat sales and staffing issues, with its investment also record high. Revenue rose by 10% to EUR 57.26 million and net profit by 27% to EUR 1.38 million.

Star choreographer's masterpiece hits London Coliseum

LONDON, UK - Choreographer and artistic director of the acclaimed SNG Maribor Ballet company Edward Clug continues to make headlines. Clug's ensemble will put on two guest performances of his celebrated work Radio and Juliet at the London Coliseum, the West End's largest theatre, over the weekend.

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06 Dec 2019, 22:28 PM

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Official at centre of arbitration scandal seeks withdrawal of parliamentary report

LJUBLJANA - Simona Drenik Bavdek, the official at the centre of a scandal that led to Croatia renouncing the border arbitration procedure, demands the withdrawal of a report by the parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services that pins the blame on her. She asked Speaker Dejan Židan to remove the report from the National Assembly's website and from the agenda of the next plenary and plans to seek an Administrative Court injunction if her request is not granted.

Cerar, Di Maio agree solutions at EU level needed for migrations

ROME, Italy - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio called for EU-level solutions to tackle migrations. Such solutions "must include enhanced protection of the EU's external borders, reform of asylum law and cooperation with third countries," the Foreign Ministry said. The meeting came on the margins of Rome Med 2019 - Mediterranean Dialogues, a high-level conference dedicated to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern issues at which Cerar participated in a panel on migrations.

Govt adopts positions for final stage of EU budget talks

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted positions for the final stage of negotiations on the EU's next long-term budget. Those remain confidential, but unofficial information indicates that Slovenia will try to reduce cutbacks to cohesion funds that are being proposed by the Finnish presidency. The draft negotiating positions on the Council's proposal for the multi-annual financial framework for 2021-2027 and guidelines for the final stage of talks will now be debated by the National Assembly before EU leaders, among them PM Marjan Šarec, discuss the proposal in Brussels next week.

IMAD: Raising production key to Slovenia's future development

LJUBLJANA - A productivity report compiled by IMAD, the government's macroeconomic think tank, shows that increasing productivity will be key to Slovenia's economic and social development, and to achieve the goal, innovation and R&D will have to be enhanced . "The future economic and social development will vitally depend on the ability to enhance productivity growth, for which innovation and R&D will have to be boosted," IMAD director Maja Bednaš told the press as she presented the report. The state should increase investment, provide for an encouraging and predictable business environment, strengthen cooperation, facilitate adequate training of human resources and secure adequate infrastructure.

New SSH chairman calls for new strategy in managing state assets

LJUBLJANA - Gabrijel Škof, the new chairman of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), believes the strategy for managing state assets needs to be revised and adjusted to the changes in the portfolio as well as economic and political changes. The strategy for managing state assets was adopted in 2015 and a lot has changed since then in SSH's portfolio and also in business and politics, he said. "This alone is reason enough for a new strategy," Škof told the STA, adding that talks with the Finance Ministry had been under way even before he took over at SSH in August.

Fortenova hopes open issues regarding Mercator resolved by year's end

LJUBLJANA - Fortenova, the owner of Croatian conglomerate Agrokor's healthy assets, has confirmed the goal of resolving open issues regarding Slovenian retailer Mercator by the end of the year, after holding talks with Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek. "We clearly have common objectives [regarding] Mercator and are completely aligned on the interdependency of local suppliers with Mercator and on importance of keeping Mercator headquarters in Ljubljana for the next several years," Fortenova chairman Maxim Poletaev said.

Malgaj Lenarčič's top aide, Kocijančič in Varhelyi's cabinet

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia's European Commissioner Janez Lenarčič has appointed Matjaž Malgaj as head of his team, while Maja Kocijančič is the only Slovenian in a cabinet of another commissioner. Malgaj has already served as head of the cabinet of former Slovenian Commissioner Janez Potočnik while Kocijančič served as spokesperson for the EU's foreign policy chief for the past ten years, first for Catherine Ashton and then Federica Mogherini.

Self-styled militia leader requests deferral of jail sentence

LJUBLJANA - Andrej Šiško, the self-styled leader of a militia that calls itself the Štajerska Guard, has requested a deferral of a prison sentence that he received for incitement to subversion of the constitutional order. Šiško told the STA he was to report to prison on Friday but submitted a formal request for deferral on Wednesday. While sentenced to eight months in prison in March, Šiško had spent almost seven months in detention before and during his trial, time which counts towards his overall sentence.

Dončić named Sports Illustrated Breakout of the Year

NEW YORK, US - Luka Dončić has been named Sports Illustrated's 2019 Breakout of the Year in what is only the latest in a series of titles for the 20-year-old Slovenian NBA star. "Each year, sports fans witness a performance that someday we'll look back on as the moment that a star was born," which is the "spirit of achievement and arrival" that the American sports magazine honours. The Dallas Mavericks small forward, who made his debut in the US National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2018, was also named NBA player of the month for October and November.

Women handballers out of medal contention at world championship

KUMAMOTO, Japan - The Slovenian women's national handball team has failed to advance to the main round of the World Championship and eventually battle for medals as it lost to Serbia 27:29 in the last match of the preliminary round today. Serbia sent Slovenia to the brackets in which teams will play the play-off for places 13-24. Slovenia may thus still improve on their 14th place from the previous world championship in 2017. The best result ever (8th place in 2003) is meanwhile out of reach as Slovenia are making their sixth appearance at such tournaments.

Slovenia to participate in UEFA eEURO 2020

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Football Association (NZS) is joining the first ever UEFA-sponsored national-team efootball championship. Slovenia will compete with two gamers, who will be picked in national tournaments. "UEFA is organising a European championship in simulation football for the first time in history, involving 55 UEFA national associations," NZS secretary-general Martin Koželj announced. To nominate their national teams, each national association will hold a tournament, either online or at special events. In Slovenia, the tournament will be held in December.

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06 Dec 2019, 04:33 AM

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Počivalšek reported to EU Commission over Mercator intervention

LJUBLJANA - Mercator's bankrupt Croatian owner Agrokor and the newly established Fortenova group, which has taken over Agrokor's assets, have reported the Slovenian Economy Ministry led by Zdravko Počivalšek to the European Commission over his interference in the transfer of Slovenian retailer Mercator to Fortenova, leveraging the state-owned SID development bank, a Mercator creditor, to do so, the newspaper Dnevnik reported. Počivalšek said the government had been merely striving to protect Slovenian suppliers under existing competition rules and stressed he had always been open about his actions.

Govt adopts anti-terrorism strategy

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a national strategy on the prevention of terrorism and violent extremism which lays the groundwork for a systemic approach to reducing Slovenia's vulnerability to terrorism and violent extremism. The strategy aims to prevent radicalisation, and protect residents against acts of terrorism and violent extremism, the Government Communication Office said after the government session. It also aims to improve preparedness to take measures in the wake of an act of terror and to prosecute terrorists.

Cerar advocate for multilateralism at OSCE ministerial

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar reiterated his call for effective multilateralism at the 26th OSCE ministerial, stressing the importance of OSCE for improving democratic processes. Commenting on the Ukraine conflict, Cerar expressed hope that Monday's meeting of the Normandy Four countries in Paris will be constructive and that progress will be made towards the implementation of the Minsk agreement. He underlined the importance of OSCE's presence and work in Ukraine.

Slovenia to invest EUR 5.6bn in transport in next six years

LJUBLJANA - The government plans to invest EUR 5.6 billion in transport and transport infrastructure in 2020-2025. Under the plan, the funds will be spent on air and maritime transport, investments in and reconstruction of state roads and toll roads, modernisation of railways, sustainable measures and traffic control. EUR 653 million will be earmarked next year, EUR 718 million in 2021 and EUR 1.1 billion in the following year. Between EUR 431.9 million and EUR 453 million will be available annually for regular maintenance of roads and railways, and public transportation subsidies.

EU Court of Human Rights rejects United Right's appeal

STRASBOURG, France - The European Court of Human Rights rejected an appeal by the United Right concerning the rejection of lists submitted by the coalition of two non-parliamentary parties for the 2018 general election because of the lists' lack of female candidates. It unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The case was brought after the United Right was barred from fielding candidates in two districts for failure to meet the statutory 35% gender quota.

Disclosure ordered of documents related to treatment of migrants

LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court has decided that several documents pertaining to treatment of migrants and asylum seekers on the state border are public information, ordering the Interior Ministry, or the police, to reveal them, the newspaper Dnevnik reported. The police was asked by Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik last December to reveal these documents under the freedom of information act. The information commissioner argued the public should know whether the police were acting in line with the law.

SDS wants to expand army deployment on border

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) requested that the government widen deployment of the army on the border under provisions of the defence act that may be triggered in the event of mass migrations. The SDS says the latest figures on illegal crossings of the border show that the government should take measures to "provide for the security of the residents of Slovenia". The motion will be debated at a joint session of the parliamentary defence and home policy committees on 12 December.

Bankruptcy proceedings initiated for Istrabenz

LJUBLJANA - The District Court of Koper initiated bankruptcy proceedings for Istrabenz, a once mighty financial holding, as the request of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC), its biggest creditor. The move is designed to give BAMC control of Istrabenz's remaining assets, in particular a 50% stake in Adriafin, which owns the majority of the winery Vinakoper, and shares in KB1909, a financial firm from Trieste that indirectly owns the weekly Mladina.

Gorenje management left without Christmas bonus

VELENJE - Managerial staff at Gorenje, owned by the Chinese conglomerate Hisense, will not receive a Christmas bonus this year, given that the Velenje-based household appliances maker is in the red. The rest of the staff will receive EUR 600 gross, which is level with last year's Christmas bonus. Gorenje will finish 2019 in the red but hopes to return to profit next year.

Competition watchdog clears Abanka acquisition

LJUBLJANA - NKBM bank received clearance from the Competition Protection Agency to acquire rival Abanka. The EUR 444 million transaction will be completed once the banking regulator has okayed the deal as well. Until the formal closure of the transaction the banks will conduct business as separate entities, NKBM said.

Small business chamber celebrates golden jubilee

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor presented the Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) with the Order of Merit at a ceremony marking the chamber's 50th anniversary. Small business is the backbone and driving force of Slovenia, OZS head Branko Meh said, thanking Pahor for recognising the chamber's role. "Small business accounts for 99.3% of Slovenia's entire economy; 116,000 companies employing 366,000 people," he said.

Pharma company Lek named top employer

LJUBLJANA - Pharmaceutical company Lek was named the top Slovenian employer in 2019, the first time in nine years that it has beaten rival drug maker Krka. The award is the result of a poll involving 19,000 users of the jobs portal mojedelo.com that measured various aspects of the reputation of companies as employers or potential employers.

Joint project of Danfoss Trata, Petrol best business practice

LJUBLJANA - A joint district energy project of heating valves maker Danfoss Trata and energy company Petrol won this year's AmCham competition for best business practice, termed Best of the Best. The project revolves around an international summer school on district energy.

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05 Dec 2019, 04:43 AM

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Šarec satisfied with messages from NATO summit in London

LONDON, UK - After attending a NATO summit in London, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said he was happy that NATO leaders had again shown unity, solidarity and effort for democracy. He described the discussion as constructive, without harsh words, as the summit was primarily dedicated to marking the 70th anniversary of the alliance. While there were disagreements between some members states ahead of the meeting, everything has been settled at today's summit at the level of the heads of state or government, Šarec said.

Migrations, EU, security discussed as Bosnian presidency visits

LJUBLJANA - The migration crisis, security issues, EU enlargement, and nuclear waste management were discussed as President Borut Pahor met the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the outset of an official two-day visit. Pahor said that Slovenia was favourably inclined to Bosnia and respected its results despite the numerous challenges it faced. He also said Slovenia had always supported EU enlargement to the Western Balkans. Presidency chairman Željko Komšić was glad his country had a friend in Slovenia, saying he was happy that Pahor supported the "mini Schengen" initiative as every cooperation was welcome.

Slovenia's EU commissioner's first trip to post-earthquake Albania

BRUSSELS, Belgium - In the wake of last week's earthquake, Slovenia's European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič is heading to Albania as early as today in what is his first official visit after recently taking over as EU commissioner. The visit is designed to assess the extent of aid the country needs after the recent disastrous event, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said following the first college meeting of the new commission. On Thursday, he will meet Albanian PM Edi Rama and Agriculture Minister Bledi Cuci, who is in charge of crisis management in Albania.

Left lone advocate of Afghan troop withdrawal

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Defence Committee overwhelmingly voted down the proposal from the opposition Left to call on the government to withdraw Slovenian troops from Afghanistan and to stop payments into the NATO-run Afghan National Army Trust Fund. The Left argued that the NATO operation in Afghanistan had not contributed to the country's democratisation, and that even the US was considering a withdrawal. The other parties argued that a withdrawal would only make the situation in Afghanistan worse and prompt even more people to flee the country, while hurting Slovenia's image in NATO.

Speaker urges govt to declare climate crisis

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan urged the government to declare a climate crisis in Slovenia, which he believes would ensure necessary resources for drawing up a comprehensive strategy to fight climate change. He based his appeal on conclusions reached at a climate change debate the National Assembly hosted last month, which featured scientists, NGOs, entrepreneurs, politicians, civil society representatives and young people. Apart from Židan, his Social Democrats (SD) as well as more than 230 NGOs have already urged the government to declare a climate crisis.

Zajc calls for cooperation at Barcelona Convention meeting

NAPLES, Italy - Environment Minister Simon Zajc called for cooperation among all countries in the Mediterranean at a Barcelona Convention ministerial in Naples, Italy, on Wednesday. He urged joint efforts for sustainable development and preservation of natural resources. Zajc said Slovenia as a maritime country was very active in implementing the goals of the Barcelona Convention as well as in regional processes.

Former FinMin expects painful reform of pensions

LJUBLJANA - Economics professor Dušan Mramor, a former finance minister, believes Slovenia will eventually have to take painful measures and face social turmoil as it tries to keep the pension system afloat, having missed the chance to reform it without major conflict. "The beauty contest by political parties has closed the window of opportunity for painless measures," he said at the presentation of Outlook 2020, a publication released by the Manager Association. Last year Mramor and another economics professor drew up a blueprint for action that would ensure the pension system remains sustainable until 2050, proposing greater exploitation of untapped resources, in particular activation of older workers, and alignment of the pension system with fiscal capacities.

Expert says Slovenian economy crisis-resistant, but challenges remain

LJUBLJANA - Economist Velimir Bole has assessed that the Slovenian economy is much more resistant to new shocks than it was before the last economic crisis, but that the price for that is a somewhat lower growth and a higher saving rate. Arturo Bris, the director of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), added that despite the higher resistance, there were challenges regarding competitiveness. He pointed to what he believes are Slovenia's two major problems - the (in)ability to attract foreign direct investments, with the reason being unfavourable tax policy, and the rigid and restrictive regulation. The pair spoke at the presentation of the Outlook 2020 publication.

Office for Slovenians Abroad marks 25th anniversary

LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for Slovenians Abroad marked its 25th anniversary at a high-profile ceremony at Ljubljana's Cankarjev Dom, with its head Peter Česnik saying the establishment of the office was an important milestone in Slovenia's cooperation with the Slovenians living outside the country's borders. Česnik, the minister without portfolio for Slovenians abroad, said preserving Slovenian identity had been the office's main mission for the past 25 years, and a challenge. State secretary Olga Belec announced the office had still many ambitious plans to realise, stressing it had no intention of "yielding to routine".

SDS urges committee session over Telekom Slovenije's dwindling market cap

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) urged a session of the parliamentary Public Finance Oversight Commission to debate the state-owned telecoms company Telekom Slovenije in the face of its dwindling market recapitalisation. The party blames the situation on the company's unsuccessful and ineffective management as reflected in the many scandals and instances of bad corporate governance. It also proposes three resolutions to be adopted in relation to Telekom's joint broadcasting venture with Greece's Antenna Group following a legal battle that has cost it EUR 23 million.

Slovenia's jobless total down 5% y/y

LJUBLJANA - Employment Service figures show the number of people registered as unemployed in Slovenia remained virtually unchanged in November, at just below 72,400, but the figure is 4.9% lower year-on-year and considerably below projections. IMAD, the government's economic forecaster, projected 74,100 unemployed for this year in its autumn forecast. Employers reported 10,664 vacancies in November, 9.7% fewer than in October and 8.8% fewer than a year ago. The biggest demand was for lorry drivers (557).

Regulator approves Generali's takeover of Adriatic Slovenica

LJUBLJANA - The Insurance Supervision Agency approved the takeover of insurer Adriatic Slovenia by Generali CEE, an affiliate of Italy's Generali Group, with the procedure to be finalised with the entry into the court register, expectedly at the beginning of 2020. The takeover will merge the Slovenian insurance companies Zavarovalnica Generali and Adriatic Slovenica, with the new insurer named Generali. The merger will create the second largest insurance company in Slovenia, with an estimated market share of 19%. Currently, Slovenia's largest insurer is Zavarovalnica Triglav, followed by Zavarovalnica Sava.

Geodetic information to be fully electronic after 2021

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is planning to fully digitise its spatial data such as land and building registers and cadastres by the end of 2021, whereupon e-government services related to all such data, for example applications for building permits, are to be available. The records and registries will be connected in a computer cloud in order to speed up administrative procedures. "We want applications to be submitted electronically and to prepare and issue decision electronically," Tomaž Petek, director general of the Surveying and Mapping Authority, told the press. The digitisation of the databases is part of a EUR 22.4 million EU-funded project called eProstor (eSpace), which was launched in 2016.

Coalition that spearheaded independence founded 30 years ago

LJUBLJANA - A coalition of parties that won Slovenia's first multi-party election in 1990, formed a government and led the country to independence in 1991 was founded 30 years ago, to the day. The Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS) brought together several parties founded in the year and a half before as part of a democratic movement demanding an end to the one-party Communist regime. Representing a great variety of interests, political and ideological views, the parties had one goal in common - to change the political system, which also involved taking Slovenia out of the Yugoslav federation. Its main goal achieved, DEMOS fell apart on 30 December 1991, due to the difference in views on how to transform the economy, particularly on the manner of privatisation.

Source of Britof gas leak blast found, malfunction eliminated

KRANJ - The source of a gas leak that led to an explosion near Kranj on Tuesday was detected with a camera sent into the pipeline and the malfunction eliminated, according to the gas pipeline contractor. An investigation will show whether the leak occurred during construction or whether the pipeline was damaged later. The pipeline running through Britof, a Kranj suburb, was completed just a month ago and is not yet in use so gas should not have been in the pipeline, Vera Zevnik, the director of the gas pipeline operator Domplan, told the press. Two workers who entered a sewage shaft were injured when the explosion occurred, as were four children playing nearby. They all sustained burns but none of them is in critical condition.

Majority of Slovenians have low vitamin D in winter

LJUBLJANA - The vast majority of adults in Slovenia have low vitamin D status in winter: some 80% do not have sufficient vitamin D and up to 40% have serum concentrations at levels so low it may pose a health risk, according to the first study of its kind in Slovenia. The study was carried out by the Nutrition Institute, the National Institute of Public Health and the UKC Ljubljana hospital, analysing the blood samples of 280 residents aged 18-74. It is to serve as a basis for new national dietary guidelines.

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