Ljubljana related

25 Jun 2019, 02:57 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

New US chargé d'affaires in Ljubljana appointed

LJUBLJANA - Susan K. Falatko has taken over as the new chargé d'affaires at the US Embassy in Slovenia, succeeding Gautam Rana. Falatko previously headed the US State Department office in charge of the Western Balkans from 2017. Announcing the news, the embassy quoted Falatko as saying that "I look forward to continuing to strengthen our extensive bilateral relationship in the years to come". The US has been without an ambassador in Slovenia since last summer, when Brent Hartley concluded his three-year term. Falatko's predecessor Rana has left for a post in Algeria.

GRECO to evaluate separation of legislative and judicial powers in Slovenia

STRASBOURG, France - The Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has decided to launch an ad hoc evaluation of separation of legislative and judiciary powers in Slovenia. In a press release GRECO said that the decision was taken "against the background of a procedural initiative by the National Council to start investigating the 'political responsibility of state prosecutors and judges'". In mid-June the Slovenian upper chamber of parliament demanded that an investigating commission be established to look into potential political motives of criminal cases brought against National Council member Franc Kangler.

Commissioner presents EUR 109m check for Koper-Divača track

LJUBLJANA - European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc symbolically presented a check of EUR 109 million in EU funds Slovenia had secured for a rail expansion between the port Koper and the inland hub Divača to Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek. The money will be spent to build seven tunnels on the new route. The European Commission has so far earmarked EUR 153 million for Koper-Divača, Bulc said about the project whose total price tag is EUR 1.2 billion. Bratušek said the goal was to launch the new track by 2026, noting Slovenia was in talks with the Commission on another EUR 80 million for the rail expansion.

State is asset in its own right, Pahor says at Statehood Day ceremony

LJUBLJANA - On eve of Statehood Day, President Borut Pahor said having its own state, especially for a nation as small as Slovenia's, was an asset in its own right. He noted as he addressed the national ceremony in Ljubljana the establishment of an independent state 28 years ago was "the most glorious milestone of our national history", and called for creating a tolerant society in which everyone can express themselves freely while also respecting the dignity and freedom of the other. Prior to the ceremony, the National Assembly met for a ceremonial session, and Pahor hosted a reception for the relatives of military, police and civilian victims of the independence war, which broke out when the Yugoslav People's Army attacked the newly-declared state.

PM addresses troops abroad ahead of Statehood Day

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec addressed Slovenian troops stationed abroad, thanking them for their work in a video call on the eve of Statehood Day. He called for a joint celebration of "Slovenia's birthday", without political disputes, adding that "there will be plenty of time for politicking after the holiday". After the conference call with the heads of missions, which took place behind closed doors at the Defence Ministry, Šarec noted that Slovenia contributed significant part of its capacities to preserve peace and stability in the world.

Pahor says political stability could be basis for big projects

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor told the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija late on Sunday that the current political stability in Slovenia could be used to push through major projects such as reforms of the health and pension systems. He assessed Slovenia was a safe country but nevertheless called for enhanced border protection in the light of migrant influx. He said in the interview that he was working well with Prime Minister Marjan Šarec but wished for more cooperation with the main political forces in the country.

Šarec party tops party ranking of POP TV poll

LJUBLJANA - The ruling Marjan šarec List (LMŠ) tops the party ranking of this month's POP TV public opinion poll, which was released on Sunday evening. Support for the LMŠ was at 16.6% this month, followed by the opposition Democrats (SDS) with 15%. The junior coalition Social Democrats (SD) are third with 7.6% support. Support for the government remains relatively high at 53.9%, while 32% of the respondents believe that the cabinet is doing a poor job.

Nearly all distributable profit of Delavska Hranilnica to go for dividends

LJUBLJANA - The Delavska Hranilnica savings bank will allocate nearly all of its distributable profit for dividends, its shareholders decided last week. Owners will get EUR 5 a share, which means that EUR 2.4 million out of a total of EUR 2.5 million in distributable profit will go for dividends. The AGM also backed a new recapitalisation, ordering the management to increase the avings bank's capital stock by EUR 8.9 million through one or more bond issues. In the past three years, the savings bank has already increased its capital stock from EUR 5.8 million to EUR 20.3 million.

Autobiographical debut novel wins Kresnik

LJUBLJANA - The publisher Delo honoured late on Sunday writer Bronja Žakelj with the Kresnik prize, the most prestigious award for novels in Slovenia, recognising her debut Whites Are Washed at 90 (Belo Se Pere na 90) as the best novel of the year. The novel is an autobiography that starts with an idyllic childhood but soon becomes very trying for the author who lost her mother when she was a teenager, then lost a brother and fought cancer herself. Žakelj is only the third woman author to receive the EUR 5,000 prize since it was first handed out in 1991.

Slovenia's Apotekar wins gold in judo at European Games

MINSK, Belarus - Slovenian judoka Klara Apotekar won the gold medal at the European Games in the women's 78 kg category, bringing the medal tally for the country in the sport to two. The 21-year-old athlete from Celje defeated Guusje Steenhuis of the Netherlands in the finals after beating German Luise Malzahn in the semis with an ippon after two and a half minutes of added time. This is the second medal for Slovenia at the competition which replaces the European Judo Championship, after Maruša Štangar won the bronze on Saturday in the women's 52 kg category.

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24 Jun 2019, 06:53 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia and Italy to launch mixed border patrols on 1 July

ROME, Italy - Slovenia and Italy will launch mixed border patrols on 1 July, Foreign Ministry confirmed a day after Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini made the announcement. The implementation agreement is to be signed in the coming week. The ministry did not say who would sign the agreement, however, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec is due in the Vatican on Thursday.

Ulissi wins Tour of Slovenia

NOVO MESTO - Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) won the 26th Tour of Slovenia. Second place overall went to Italian Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM), third to Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), while Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) in place four was the best Slovenian at the five-day race. The final stage was won by Italian Giacomo Nizzolo (Dimension Data), Slovenian Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) was second and Shane Archbold (Bora-Hansgrohe) of New Zealand was third.

Industrial output up by nearly 10% last year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia-based industrial companies generated EUR 26 billion in revenue last year, 9.4% more than in 2017, data from the Statistics Office show. The office noted however that about 2-3 percentage points should be attributed to the inclusion of additional industries in the index, among them wood processing, metallurgy and machine repairs. Companies making cars and trailers have been at the forefront in the recent years as well as in 2018, when they accounted for nearly 15% of total industrial revenue, followed by production of electric devices (11%) and metallurgy (10%).

Slovenia registers negative birth-to-death rate for second consecutive year in 2018

LJUBLJANA - After years of natural increase in population, Slovenia has seen a natural decrease in population for the second consecutive year in 2018, as the number of births dropped to below 20,000 a year for the first time in a decade. Data from the Statistics Office show that 19,585 people were born in Slovenia last year and 20,485 died. The number of deaths was 0.1% lower than in 2017, while the number of births dropped by 3.2%. Life expectancy for girls born in 2018 is at 84 years and for boys at 78.3 years.

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23 Jun 2019, 02:57 AM

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Spouse apprehended in Maribor judge attack

MARIBOR - Police investigating an attack on a Maribor District Court judge apprehended the judge's spouse following a late-night search of the couple's house, Večer reported. A police spokesman confirmed that a suspect had been apprehended after a house search but refused to disclose his identity or whether he is the only suspect.

Woman suffers moderate injuries in bear attack

LJUBLJANA - An 80-year-old woman suffered moderate injuries when a female bear with cubs attacked her near her home in Vrh nad Želimljami, a village about 15 kilometres south of Ljubljana, in the early morning hours. The woman was taken to the University Medical Centre in Ljubljana. She suffered only light injuries from the attack and was not bitten, but she fractured her hip when she fell to the ground. The bear will be shot.

Ljubljana dons rainbow colours for pride parade

LJUBLJANA - The annual pride parade took to the streets of Ljubljana, the culmination of a two-week festival campaigning against the culture of hate that has become pervasive in society. This year's slogan was Unavoidably Intertwined, with the organisers trying to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of hatred, and about negative and stereotypical portrayal of marginalised groups.

Slovenian tech companies exploring opportunities in Israel

TEL AVIV, Israel - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dobran Božič wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel on Friday accompanied by a business delegation featuring the representatives of 13 Slovenian start-ups. The focus was on forging ties with the Israeli start-up ecosystem. The main event of the visit was an Israeli-Slovenian business forum at the Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation.

Weiler Abrasives posts lower sales, profit

MARIBOR - Weiler Abrasives, the maker of abrasives until recently known as SwatyComet, saw sales decline by 2% last year to EUR 81 million. Net profit, at EUR 2.9 million, dropped by nearly half. The company expects sales and profit to decline further this year. Former director Matjaž Merkan, who left the company in March, said in autumn that increasing the sale of products with high value added was more important than headline sales.

Tour of Slovenia: Ulissi defends green jersey

AJDOVŠČINA - Race leader Diego Ulissi of Italy (UAE Emirates) defended the green jersey at the Tour of Slovenia nd is on track to being declared the overall winner as the race wraps up on Sunday. Another Italian, Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli) won Saturday's hilly 154-kilometre stage from Nova Gorica to Ajdovščina in the final sprint.

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22 Jun 2019, 03:03 AM

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MPs vote down motion to oust Erjavec

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly voted down a motion to oust Defence Minister Karl Erjavec in a xy to xy vote. In the marathon session the opposition accused him of abusing the military intelligence service for an unlawful dismissal of the force commander, but the coalition rallied behind him. Erjavec has insisted all that he had not abused the intelligence service and even said during the session today that "If I do make a mistake, I will resign myself." Another alleged transgression of Erjavec is lying about late-night shooting at Poček training grounds, which Erjavec denied.

Critical of talks, Šarec says top EU posts still open

BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Marjan Šarec criticised the summit talks on top posts in the EU as poorly organised. With the leaders having failed to reach a deal, he said that everything was still possible. "We'll see how the process unfolds in the coming days," he said when quizzed whether Manfred Weber, Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager were still in the game. Šarec, who feels the talks should be conducted "via one channel, not multiple channels", said all the key players now needed to take a step towards compromise.

Erjavec says US-Iran clash would have global consequences

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said that a potential clash between the US and Iran would have consequences for the whole world, including Slovenia. "And this is not only about the price of oil - we saw what happened when we had the war in Syria, we know we faced a refugee wave. I don't want things to escalate there," Erjavec commented on the situation in the Gulf on the sidelines of a parliamentary session at which he faces an ouster motion.

New tax reform blueprint unveiled

LJUBLJANA - Four months after outlining its tax reform ideas, the government has now presented a consolidated blueprint for tax changes that follows the original philosophy of reducing taxes on labour and increasing the taxation of capital. However, the taxation of capital will not increase by as much as originally planned. In general, the changes are designed to increase take-home pay, which will be achieved with a higher general tax credit that all taxpayers are entitled to, by EUR 200 to EUR 3,500. Capital gains will be taxed at 27.5%, up from the current rate of 25%. The original proposal was to raise the rate by a full five points to 30%. Corporate income tax is planned to go up by a point to 20%, a significant change from the 22% originally proposed

Home price growth continues

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian home prices grew at an average rate of 0.8% in the first quarter of the year and were up 8.9% on the year before, a sign that rapid price growth is slowing but at a very sluggish pace, show Statistics Office data. The rates are lower than in previous quarters, when annual prices grew at double-digit rates, as the shortage of housing that has lasted for years after the crisis slowly eases with the arrival of new developments on the market.

Počivalšek and Croatian counterpart discuss ways to deepen cooperation

MOKRICE - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and his Croatian counterpart Darko Horvat met at Mokrice Castle in eastern Slovenia, near the border with Croatia, to discuss economic cooperation, investment opportunities, strategies and the labour market situation. The meeting was hosted by the Slovenian-Croatian business club and the local Krško chamber of trade crafts and small businesses to mark the upcoming Statehood Days of both countries.

Bertoncelj attends debt management forum in Tokyo, meets counterpart

TOKYO, Japan - Attending a forum on public debt management in Tokyo, Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj met his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso and delivered the keynote address at the forum, the Finance Ministry said. Bertoncelj and Aso met on Thursday to exchange views on their countries' fiscal and monetary policies as well as global developments. Bertoncelj, who is visiting at the invitation of the IMF, also met representatives of some of the biggest banking groups in Japan, among them Daiwa and Miziuho.

Business sentiment deteriorates

LJUBLJANA - The sentiment among Slovenian businesses deteriorated in June, dropping by 2.3 percentage points on the month before to its lowest level since mid-2016, the Statistics Office said. Manufacturing in particular saw a strong decline, with the indicator dropping 2.5 percentage points. In retail it was down marginally, while remaining almost flat in services and among consumers. At the annual level the decline was even more pronounced, as the headline indicator dropped 8 percentage points.

Contentious proposal questioning Slovenian dialects in Italy shelved

TRIESTE, Italy - A proposal that would have reduced funding for Slovenian minority organisations and undermined the status of Slovenian dialects in Italy was withdrawn in the Friuli Venezia Giulia regional council following protest by the minority. Member of the Friuli Venezia Giulia regional council Pierpaolo Roberti of Liga gave up on a proposal to expand the list of organisations eligible for minority grants to include groups that claim the region's local dialects are not Slovenian.

Forum of Slavic Cultures marks 15th anniversary

LJUBLJANA - The Forum of Slavic Cultures, a Slovenia-based international institution promoting ties among Slavic nations and cultures, has marked its 15th anniversary. The jubilee was celebrated in Ljubljana on Thursday as its management board, consisting of culture ministers from member states, met for a ceremonial session. The event was held under the auspices of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, while Russian President Vladimir Putin sent in a letter of congratulations, saying that "in a decade and a half, the Forum of Slavic Cultures has fully justified its existence".

Left leader does not regret calling far-right politician fascist

LJUBLJANA - Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, expressed no remorse in court as he pleaded not guilty to defamation charges brought by Bernard Brščič, leader of the far-right Homeland League. "Describing Brščič as a fascist was not defamatory, it was a political description of his actions," Mesec said. The MP said during a debate in parliament in November that Brščič "used to be a radical neoliberal" but was now "a fascist". The case will be closely watched as Slovenia, much like other countries, grapples with trying to balance the right to free speech with the desire to curb rampant hate speech online.

Photon Gallery hosts exhibition of photo collage

LJUBLJANA - To honour the famous German art school Bauhaus upon its centenary, the Photon Gallery will launch tonight an international group exhibition of photo collage. A New Vision of Debris will explore the role of photo collage in a time when every-day reality is saturated with fragments of images and immersive digital technologies. The show, running until 19 July, will feature Alexandra Baumgartner, Caroline Heider, Herbert Hofer, Marko Lipuš, Lilly Lulay, Iosif Kiraly, Kensuke Koike, Zuzana Pustaiova, Anita Witek and Metka Zupanič.

Ulissi wins Tour of Slovenia stage 3

IDRIJA - Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) won the third stage of Tour of Slovenia, also taking the overall lead two stages before the end of the race. Ullissi crossed the finish line after the 170 kilometres from Žalec to Idrija 12 seconds before Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Gazprom). Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) was the best Slovenian, taking fifth place today and sixth overall.

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21 Jun 2019, 02:44 AM

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Abanka sold for EUR 444 million

LJUBLJANA - The state's 100% stake in Abanka, Slovenia's third largest bank, has been sold to NKBM bank for EUR 444 million, Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) said after signing the sale and purchase agreement with the buyer. The transaction is to be completed by the end of the year pending regulatory approval, SSH said, adding that the deal satisfies all of the commitments given by Slovenia to the European Commission with regard to state aid. The SSH added that NKBM had been picked as the best bidder in a competitive process that attracted a wide range of potential financial and strategic investors.

Šarec unfazed as Left threatens to abandon govt

LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prompted by the government's failure to step in to prevent the sale of Abanka, the opposition Left announced it would reassess its partnership with the Marjan Šarec minority government and decide in July whether to carry on with it. In response, Šarec rejected claims that the government was passive in preventing the privatisation of Abanka and dared the Left to bring down his government by withholding its support. The Left cited several reasons for dissatisfaction apart Abanka.

Šarec proposes distributing EU posts before talking names

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Arriving for the EU summit discussing appointments of senior EU officials, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said it would be best to first distribute the posts among the political groups and only then discuss names. "Given that there are a lot of us, each with their own agenda, the task at hand is a complicated one," said Šarec, whose party is part of the ALDE group, would not say outright whether he would vote against the EPP Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber for European Commission president.

Slovenia countering all allegations in ECB files suit

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a position on the European Commission's lawsuit against Slovenia over the seizure of 2013 bank bailout documents, deciding to refute all the allegations made by the Commission in response to the suit. The main sticking point is the interpretation of the concept of EU or ECB archives, with the Commission alleging that Slovenia breached inviolability of ECB archives when police seized documents from the Slovenian central bank in 2016 as part of an an investigation into the causes of the late-2013 bailout of the Slovenian banking system.

C-bank asks corruption watchdog to investigate vice governor

LJUBLJANA - Banka Slovenije asked the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption to investigate Marko Bošnjak, a vice governor at Slovenia's central bank, after he was recently accused of tax evasion. Private news portal Požareport reported in May that Bošnjak had not paid tax from the rent he gets for his flat in Ljubljana, which the central bank official denied. Since it lacks powers to obtain documents from the Tax Administration, the central bank now asked the commission to investigate the case.

Army in spotlight as interpretations clash on political podium

LJUBLJANA - The situation in the Slovenian Armed Forces remained in the spotlight as the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission continued investigating the recent dismissal of the force commander amidst accusations it was abusing its powers to undermine the defence minister. The commission talked to the director of the army's intelligence service, Dejan Matijevič, as well as the chief of the general staff, Maj-Gen Alenka Ermenc. Both were tight-lipped after the session, but the commission's deputy chair, Democrat (SDS) deputy Žan Mahnič, said the hearing confirmed the intel service had been abused.

Migrants support and integration office gets new director

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Katarina Štrukelj new acting director of the government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants. Štrukelj, appointed as the call procedure for a new director is still ongoing, is the third head of the office since its inception in 2017. Štrukelj is replacing Dušan Lužar, who was appointed acting director six months ago after the dismissal of Mojca Špec Potočar. Štrukelj has been working at the Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants since 2007.

Social integration events marking World Refugee Day

LJUBLJANA - A number of cultural and sports events is taking place around the country to mark World Refugee Day as part of a project which strives to raise awareness about refugees, migrants and persons with international protection as well as increase the level of tolerance towards them in society. The three-year project is aimed at creating sustainable communities and tackling the issues of refugees. Some 7,450 persons have applied for asylum in Slovenia since 2015, over 1,500 of them this year.

Govt opposes latest attempt to bail out Swiss franc borrowers

LJUBLJANA - The government rejected the latest attempt to help several thousand people who took out mortgages in Swiss francs and ran into trouble when the Swiss central bank stopped protecting the value of the currency in 2015. It said the bill, drafted by the upper chamber of parliament, was not suitable. The government said existing avenues should be used to tackle the issue first, while any systemic interference in civil-law contracts should be minimal.

Airport operator ready should Adria Airways go bankrupt

LJUBLJANA - In the face of mounting problems at Adria Airways, Fraport Slovenija, the operator of Ljubljana airport, said it was ready for a potential worst-case scenario. "Although we cannot provide specific answers, Fraport Slovenija has a plan ready for replacement transport, should it lose its largest business partner," the company said. Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority said it had already received 134 complaints against the carrier this year over violations of EU rules on passenger rights.

Fresh contracts awarded for works on Divača-Koper rail

LJUBLJANA - 2TDK, the company managing the construction of the new rail track between Divača and Koper has awarded several smaller contracts for design and engineering works as it gears up for the biggest contracts on the EUR 1 billion-plus project. Slovenian engineering companies ELEA iC, SŽ-Projektivno podjetje Ljubljana and IRGO Consulting won a EUR 17.5 million contract for 3D renders for the project, while Markomark Nival, Nival Invest and Ekorel will build a bridge traversing the Glinščica Valley for EUR 8 million.

A non-executive director of bad bank replaced

LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Spaniard Juan Barba Silvela as one of the four non-executive directors of Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) at his wish, replacing him with the Slovenian Aleksander Lozej. Lozej has been holding senior positions in several companies in the western region of Primorska, including serving nine years on the management board of the subsidiary of Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo. He will assume the post of BAMC non-executive director on 21 June.

Slovenia's consumer confidence given a boost

LJUBLJANA - After growing pessimism among Slovenian consumers in the first few months of the year, the consumer confidence index rose in June, mainly because of upbeat expectations for savings and household finances. The sentiment index increased by two percentage points from the month before to 15 points above the long-term average. However, it was down 6 points year-on-year, the Statistics Office reported.

Changes to primary school funding pass first reading

LJUBLJANA - MPs sent the government-sponsored changes to primary schools funding into second reading in a 44:29 vote, with the debate showing that only coalition parties supported the changes, some of them under certain conditions. The controversial changes to the law on the financing of education mandate full rather than just 85% state funding, as is the case now, which the Constitutional Court found discriminatory in 2014. The MPs also voted down opposition-sponsored changes tightening asylum legislation.

Govt tweaks equal opportunities act

LJUBLJANA - The government proposed legislative changes meant to increase the number of state and local government bodies and other public entities that actually meet the desired minimum 40% representation of women. The government highlighted data showing women remain highly underrepresented in high-powered positions. The amendments to the act on equal opportunities for women and men would allow greater equality in the representation of women and men also at the local level.

Survey shows more acceptance toward LGBT persons

LJUBLJANA - Social distance toward LGBT persons in Slovenia has decreased significantly, according to a survey looking into the general attitude of the Slovenian society toward LGBT people and violence. Most people recognise that crimes against LGBT persons are unacceptable, as is exclusion from society. The survey showed that more than 40% of respondents would be comfortable living next door to LGBT persons. About 50% would probably intervene if an LGBT person was pushed and slapped on the street by a stranger.

Ex-NLB execs get suspended sentences for dubious loan

LJUBLJANA - In a retrial following an initial aquittal in 2016, the Ljubljana District Court found three former senior officials of the NLB bank guilty of abuse of office in relation to a contentious home loan to a former prime minister aide. The former chairman of Slovenia's largest bank Draško Veselinovič and former board members Matej Narat and Miran Vičič each received suspended prison sentences of six months for approving a EUR 770,000 loan to Simona Dimic, an aide to then PM Borut Pahor, in 2009.

Doctor gets suspended sentence for corruption

LJUBLJANA - Radiologist Zoran Milošević, the chief defendant in the biggest health corruption case in Slovenia's history, was found guilty in a separate bribery trial. The head of the emergency neuroradiology unit at the UKC Ljubljana hospital was sentenced to a ten month suspended sentence for accepting a EUR 7,200 bribe from medical supplier Animus in 2008. The verdict is not final yet. The case becomes statute-barred in September. The trial in the EUR 1.18m corruption case is to begin in autumn.

Slovenian Red Cross gets new president

DEBELI RTIČ - The Slovenian Red Cross, which is in significant debt and has faced a long crisis of leadership, got a new president as Vesna Mikuž, a former head of the Nova Gorica city administration, beat Mitja Bervar, former upper chamber president, in a 34:21 vote. Secretary general Cvetka Tomin expressed optimism, saying "we need to learn to say things as they are, stand by our words and respect our basic principles". Mikuž is succeeding Alojz Kovačič, who took over as an interim head after Dušan Keber resigned halfway through his term in July 2018.

Mezgec wins 2nd stage of Tour of Slovenia

CELJE - Slovenian Mitchelton-Scott rider Luka Mezgec won the second stage of Tour of Slovenia ahead of fellow countryman Grega Bole from Bahrain Merida to the delight of fans gathered at the finish line in Celje. Italian Andreo Vendrame of Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec came in third. Mezgec took the overall lead from German Pascal Ackermann. Bole is second overall, 4 seconds behind Mezgec. Tomorrow, the rides will take a 170 kilometre stage between Žalec and Idrija.

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20 Jun 2019, 02:14 AM

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Abanka to be sold to US fund Apollo

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Sovereign Holding announced that Abanka, Slovenia's third largest bank, will be sold to NKBM bank, owned by US fund Apollo, with the value of the deal to be disclosed on Thursday as the sales agreement is to be signed. A merger between Abanka and NKBM would create a bank with combined total assets of EUR 8.71 billion or a 22.5% market share. Slovenia's largest bank, NLB, has total assets of EUR 8.81 billion. The decision to sell was regretted by most parties. While some see the sale as inevitable under the EU's state aid rules, several including the Left and the SocDems, believe it should have been prevented.

Ten percent of NLB bank sold for EUR 109.5 million

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding sold 10% of the NLB bank to institutional investors for EUR 109.5 million as it wrapped up its privatisation, leaving the state owning a controlling stake of 25% plus one share. SSH made the announcement after selling shares and global depositary receipts equivalent to almost two million shares at a price of EUR 54.75 per share and EUR 10.95 per GDR. The price is well below market price: NLB closed at EUR 58.20 on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange yesterday, while GDRs, which are traded in London, closed at EUR 11.33.

Tug-of-war between union and defence minister enters new stage

LJUBLJANA - A soldiers' trade union filed a criminal complaint against Defence Minister Karl Erjavec and brought a lawsuit against him, as the tug-of-war between the two sides continues over the situation in the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and Erjavec's alleged false statements. The criminal complaint accuses the minister of alleged violations of trade union legislation, of abuse of office and negligence at work. The private lawsuit was meanwhile filed over alleged insult, defamation and self-willed exercise of rights, the Trade Union of Soldiers (SVS) said.

Slovenia still trailing EU average in consumption and GDP per capita

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Slovenia remained below the EU average in 2018 when in comes to indicators of actual individual consumption (AIC) per capita and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, reaching 77% and 87% of the average, respectively, according to Eurostat. While the highest consumption was recorded in Luxembourg (32% above the average) and Germany (20%), Slovenia was among the 13 countries where the AIC was up to 25% below the European average. Slovenia's performance relative to the average improved in 2018 to 87% from 85% in 2017.

Banka Slovenije notes increasing risks to stability of financial system

LJUBLJANA - The latest Banka Slovenije Financial Stability Review released by the central bank speaks of increasing risks to the stability of the country's financial system. The key risks factors include uncertainties in the international environment as well as developments on the housing market. Speaking to the press about the macroeconomic risks, vice governor Jožef Bradeško highlighted slowed down GDP growth in Slovenia and even more so the rising number of potential negative scenarios in the international environment.

Klavdija Kutnar new chancellor of Primorska University

KOPER - Klavdija Kutnar has been endorsed as the new chancellor of the University of Primorska after she was elected to the post last month. She will succeed Dragan Marušič on 23 November as the fourth chancellor at the helm of the Koper-based university. Her formal endorsement came on Wednesday as the university's senate discussed the election outcome and unanimously appointed her for a four-year term. The dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and IT was the only candidate for the job when the university went about electing new head on 23 May.

Slovenian teachers more experienced, older than OECD average

LJUBLJANA - The 2018 OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) on teachers' working conditions and learning environments indicates that Slovenian teachers are more experienced than the OECD average but also older, which points to the issue of the ageing teaching workforce. The OECD study conducted in 48 countries, and in Slovenia it included 136 primary and 122 secondary schools. The results show that the country's teachers focus on clearly explaining the subject matter, Barbara Japelj Pavešić, the Slovenian TALIS coordinator, told the press.

Slovenia urged to declare climate emergency

LJUBLJANA - Over 40 non-governmental organisations urged the Slovenian government to declare a national climate emergency and make tackling climate change a priority. "We are not going to resolve the climate crisis if we do not treat it as a crisis," said Gaja Brecelj, the director of the NGO Umanotera. As she presented the appeal to the government, Brecelj noted Slovenia was warming twice as fast as Earth on average, which meant it has a vested interest in crafting an ambitious plan to tackle the climate crisis.

Slovenia's Marand to be involved in Malta's e-health

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian IT company Marand has won the Maltese Health Ministry's tender to implement a data platform for the national electronic health records as part of healthcare digitalisation in the country. Marand said that its solution, called Better Platform, would make it possible to establish national database of patient clinical data. The co-called national health spine will store the population's health data such as vaccinations taken, allergies, past diagnoses, history of surgeries and the current list of the drugs the patient is taking.

Slovenians quite distrustful of vaccines

LONDON, UK - The latest global study on attitude towards immunisation shows that 13% of Slovenians believe that vaccines are not safe, almost double the world average. The majority of Slovenians believe that vaccines are safe (70%), while 80% think that vaccines are efficient. Only 8% do not trust their efficiency, according to data released by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Globally, 79% consider vaccination safe, while 14% are undecided. In terms of vaccine efficiency, the shares are similar.

First whistleblower portal launched in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The first web portal for whistleblowers in Slovenia has been launched. Accessible at žvižgač.si and operated by Oštro, a centre for investigative journalism in the Adriatic region, the portal has been developed under the supervision of Anuška Delić, a Slovenian investigative journalist of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). It will allow whistleblowers to upload files, documents, photographs, data, videos an clues. The forwarded data will be checked by Oštro's team of investigative journalists.

Pascal Ackermann wins Tour of Slovenia first stage

Ljubljana, 19 June (STA) - Pascal Ackermann of the German team Bora-Hansgrohe is the winner of the first stage of the 26th Tour of Slovenia cycling race between Ljubljana and Rogaška Slatina on Wednesday. The stage saw a massive sprint at the end, with the German winning the 171 km stage with a time of 4 hours, 4 minutes and 58 seconds. Germany's national champion was followed by two Italian cyclists - Giacomo Nizzolo, a member of Team Dimension Data, who finished second and Simone Consonni, who currently rides for UAE Team Emirates, in the third place.

Photo exhibition on hidden costs of lithium on display at Ljubljana Castle

LJUBLJANA - An exhibition by one of Slovenia's most acclaimed photographers Matjaž Krivic, which explores a much neglected topic of lithium as a driving force of not only batteries but also of geopolitical change, will open today along the Ljubljana Castle avenue. The exhibition chronicles the value chain of this rare element, which includes investment and searches in the US, mining in Bolivia, the manufacturing of batteries and cars in China, as well as efforts in Norway, a small country rich in oil, to electrify all of its transport, wrote the organisers.

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19 Jun 2019, 02:40 AM

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Cerar regrets no decision on EU talks for N Macedonia, Albania

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar strongly regretted the EU had yet again postponed a decision on launching accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. If there is no breakthrough in the autumn, potential negative political consequences will be largely blamed on the EU, he said as he spoke to the press during a session of EU ministers for foreign and EU affairs. Cerar reiterated Slovenia's strong support for a prompt launch of accession talks for both countries, which he believes should by no means be put off again in the autumn.

Cerar: Chances for deal on top EU posts this week slim

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - There is only a faint possibility for EU leaders to reach a comprehensive deal on top EU offices as they meet for a summit this week, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said as he spoke to the press after a Luxembourg meeting at which EU ministers discussed preparations for the 20-21 June summit. Slovenia supports a swift package deal which would result in a good distribution of key top offices among the main political groupings, taking into account the candidates' expertise and a geographical, demographic and gender balance.

Cerar: Ruling on German motorway tolls proves law must prevail

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar sees the EU court's ruling on Germany's motorway toll scheme as proof of the European Court of Justice's (ECJ) independence. He also believes it bodes well for Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia for its non-implementation of the 2017 border arbitration decision. Today's ruling shows that at the highest level of EU law, there is an independent judicial institution which can decide against a decision taken by a big country or against the European Commission's policies, Cerar said, speaking on the sidelines of an EU ministerial.

Opposition critical of Turkey's status downgrade

LJUBLJANA - Branko Grims, an MP for the opposition Democrats (SDS), criticised the government for a recent decision to remove Turkey from the list of safe countries of origin, arguing that this "irresponsible solo" move would have a negative impact on Slovenia and its position in the EU. He said Slovenia started unilaterally eroding the EU-Turkey agreement, which would have long-term consequences for the country's position in the EU because this was a departure from coordinated EU policies. Data available on the website of the European Commission show Slovenia is not the only EU member whose safe list does not contain Turkey.

Proposal to reform EU commissioner appointment voted down

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly voted down a legislative motion tabled by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) that would give newly elected MEPs a major role in the process of appointing Slovenia's candidate for the European Commission. While the existing law stipulates that the nominee is put forward by the government at the proposal of the prime minister, the NSi wanted to make the nomination conditional on approval by at least five of Slovenia's eight MEPs. The proposal was seen as an attempt to give conservative parties a role in the process during the term of a liberal government.

Procedure under way to offload further 10% of NLB

LJUBLJANA - After selling a 65% stake in Slovenia's largest bank in an initial public offering of shares last year, the state now launched the procedure to sell a further 10% of NLB shares to qualified investors. Slovenian Sovereign Holding announced it had launched a proposed placement of up to 1,999,999 ordinary NLB shares, representing 10% of the bank's existing share capital minus one share, "by way of an accelerated bookbuild process to certain institutional investors in the form of shares and global depositary receipts representing shares". The state needs to reduce its stake to 25% plus one share under commitments given to the European Commission as it approved a EUR 1.56 billion state aid for the bank in late 2013.

Construction workers' federation urges EU Commission to investigate Slovenia

BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) said it had submitted a request to the European Commission at the end of May to investigate Slovenia's regulation of temporary posting of workers to other EU members. Between 2010 and 2016, the number increased by almost 600%, said a press release. "Slovenia has built a money-spinning business model based on social fraud and worker exploitation. This is totally unacceptable and should be stopped at once," said EFBWW president Dietmar Schäfers.

EU urging Slovenia to step up its energy and climate targets

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission released the results of its assessment of member states' draft plans to implement national energy and climate strategies by 2030. It noted there was still room for improvement across the board and urged EU countries, including Slovenia, to be more ambitious in setting their targets. It specifically urged Slovenia to increase its efforts in terms of renewables, and describe in more detail ways in which it aims to meet the 2030 target.

Lawyer Rok Čeferin appointed Constitutional Court judge

LJUBLJANA - Rok Čeferin, a high-profile lawyer from one of Slovenia's best known law firms, was appointed a Constitutional Court judge, to take over at the end of September for nine years. He was endorsed in a secret ballot with 49 in favour and 32 against. Čeferin said the appointment was a great honour but also a big responsibility. He is seen as qualified for the job, but some conservatives raised concern that by advocating curbing hate speech he could undermine the freedom of speech. The opposition Democrats (SDS) said some of his statements showed that by reinterpreting the article about the freedom of speech, he could undermine the country's democratic order.

Left's defence motion rejected in parliament

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left-sponsored proposal to give parliament more say in deploying Slovenian troops abroad was rejected in parliament in a 73:10 vote. The Left believes this would enhance transparency and the democratic nature of decision making, but Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said the government was against addressing the issue partially. It would like to discuss it as part of broader changes to the defence act. Erjavec's view was echoed by MPs from all coalition parties and two oppostion parties. However, the Left had indicated it could peg its support for Erjavec in Friday's no-confidence vote in parliament to the coalition's support for the bill.

Mojca Prelesnik reappointed information commissioner

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly reappointed Mojca Prelesnik, 50, information commissioner for another five-year term in a 45:6 vote. She will start serving her second term on 17 July. Prelesnik, who was the only candidate for the post after journalist Rajko Gerič pulled out last month, was backed by a majority of factions. She had been nominated by President Borut Pahor as a highly qualified candidate that meets all the requirements for the post.

Peter Golob new National Electoral Commission head

LJUBLJANA - Peter Golob was appointed the president of the National Electoral Commission (DVK) in a 63:0 vote in parliament. Supreme Court judge Golob, so far DVK deputy president, will take over a day after the publication of formal notification of the outcome of May's EU election in Slovenia. He will succeed long-serving Anton Gašper Frantar, who was relieved of his duties because, having turned 70, he retired as judge as of 2019.

Small businesses optimistic about challenges ahead

BRDO PRI KRANJU - The annual summit of small business, hosted by the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS), was marked by optimism but also calls that the demands of what is the backbone of the Slovenian economy need to be met. In his address, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said the summit should be called the "summit of the core of the Slovenian economy", as small businesses make up 98% of all Slovenian companies and employ 54% of workers.

Šarec not victim of identity theft, but fake profile abuse

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec's Facebook profile has not been hacked, however a fake profile has been created on the messaging app Messenger, Šarec's office explained after Šarec told his Facebook followers earlier in the day that his identity had been hijacked. The Ljubljana Police Department said it had not received any complaint or motion for prosecution in connection to the matter. Such acts are prosecuted only at the request of the injured party.

Elektro Ljubljana exceeds EUR 100m revenue mark in 2018

LJUBLJANA - Elektro Ljubljana, the largest of the five companies managing Slovenia's electricity distribution network, posted sales of EUR 103 million for 2018, up from roughly EUR 98 million in 2017. Net profit increased from EUR 14 million to EUR 17 million. EBITDA amounted to EUR 48m, with value added per employee, at EUR 95,000, placing the company in the top tier of Slovenia's most productive companies. Director Andrej Ribič said 2018 was its most successful business year.

SID Banka issues EUR 200 million bond

LJUBLJANA - SID Banka, the Slovenian development and export bank, said it issued a EUR 200 million bond in international markets. The funds will be invested into upgrading the economy's competitive edge and in the country's sustainable development. The bond was offered to a closed group of institutional investors, and demand surpassed EUR 290 million. 46% of the buyers were foreign investors.

Experts call for differentiation between hate speech and free speech

LJUBLJANA - The participants of a debate on hate speech urged the authorities and public to be constantly alert to instances of hate speech and report problematic content. They shared the view that hate speech should not be condoned as the freedom of speech. The debate Hate Speech - Local Responses to a Global Threat was hosted by the online complaint hotline Spletno Oko (Online Eye), which accepts anonymous complaints about online hate speech and is part of the Safer Internet Centre, coordinated by the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences.

Croatia-bound railway in SE Slovenia in for revival

NOVO MESTO - A deal was signed paving the way for the revitalisation of a 100-year-old cross-border railway infrastructure connecting Ljubljana with border towns in south-eastern Slovenia and further with Croatia. The agreement on cooperation was signed by representatives of nine Slovenian municipalities, including Ljubljana, and Croatia's Karlovac. The project will be coordinated by the Novo Mesto Development Centre. The municipalities will contribute more than EUR 100,000 for the project in the next couple of years.

Ljubljana football club on sale, talks under way with Italian businessman

LJUBLJANA - Olimpija Ljubljana, the runner up of the last Slovenian football premier league season, is reportedly in the process of being sold to an Italian businessman. According to sports paper Ekipa SN, Olimpija's chairman Milan Mandarić is looking to sell the club for at least EUR 6 million. The Serbian-American tycoon who also owned England's Portsmouth, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday in the past, bought the Ljubljana club from Slovenian banana wholesaler Izet Rastoder in 2015, reportedly for EUR 4 million. The potential new owner is Italian businessman Gabriele Nardin.

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18 Jun 2019, 02:06 AM

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S&P upgrades rating for Slovenia from A+ to AA-

LJUBLJANA - The rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) upgraded its rating for Slovenia from A+ with a positive outlook to AA- with a stable outlook due to strong economic growth and employment growth, the Finance Ministry said in a press release. S&P said Slovenia "continues to post strong GDP and employment growth, alongside fiscal and external surpluses". After Moody's upgraded Slovenia's outlook to stable from positive in April, the upgrade by S&P is an "additional and significant confirmation that Slovenia is on the right track to get the AA rating it had in May 2006," the Finance Ministry said.

Final decision on Abanka privatisation deferred to Wednesday

LJUBLJANA - The final decision on the privatisation of Abanka, Slovenia's third largest bank, has been deferred to Wednesday after the supervisory board of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) decided not to convene today as planned. Karmen Dietner, SSH chief supervisor, said the supervisory wanted to "thoroughly examine the large amount of material that represents the substantive basis for the decision." Comments by PM Šarec suggest the bank will be privatised despite initial apprehension on his part - after SSH's reaction that only the government had the power to change the course of the privatisation, Šarec said today the decision was in SSH's hands.

Country's top officials denounce attack on district judge

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor condemned Sunday's attack on the Maribor district judge Daniela Ružič and urged the authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident. "I condemn the attack, I'm worried because of it and I expect the authorities to investigate and determine the perpetrator and their motive," the president said after the attack in which the judge, who is covering corporate crime, was injured severely. Other top political and judiciary officials have denounced the attack as well and called for zero tolerance for violence, among them PM Marjan Šarec, Speaker Dejan Židan, Justice Minister Andreja Katič and Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina.

Adria Airways auditor in spotlight

LJUBLJANA - The auditing firm which checked the financials of Slovenian carrier Adria Airways for last year, the Slovenian branch of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is being scrutinised by the Slovenian Agency for Public Oversight of Auditing on suspicion that Adria's financial statements do not accurately reflect its financial state, news portal Siol reported. Adria, whose air operator certificate could be on the line, said "we've been informed about the audit and we do not see any problems. We're convinced our auditors have conducted a fair and professional audit of our financial statements".

Šarec agrees environmental groups often obstruct important projects

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec agreed with an opposition MP during questions time in parliament that Slovenia should not allow small environmental groups halt developmentally and environmentally important projects. He proposes that the Environment Ministry draw up legislation to prevent this. "Protecting the environment is important, but stopping every project will also not get us far," the prime minister told MPs, adding that Slovenia would have to decide where it would obtain energy from.

Pahor receives Order of Malta's grand master

LJUBLJANA - The grand master of the Order of Malta, Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetta, is completing his multi-day visit by meeting President Borut Pahor and PM Marjan Šarec to discuss humanitarian cooperation. Pahor and Della Torre had a "brief but very substantive" meeting, discussing all topics concerning Slovenia and the Order of Malta, but also the most topical issues in Europe and the world. Pahor said it would be useful if Slovenia and the Order of Malta reached a cooperation agreement as a follow-up to the exemplary cooperation they had had since they established diplomatic relations in 1992.

NGO not breaking law in aiding migrants, prosecution says

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said that the aid provided to migrants by the Legal and Information Centre (PIC), a group of NGOs, did not constitute a crime, as he answered a question from the opposition Democrats (SDS), who are appalled that these NGOs get state funding. This comes less than a month after PIC president Katarina Bervar Sternad was reported to the police by Zmago Jelinčič, the head of the opposition National Party (SNS). Poklukar confirmed that the police saw an increase in the number of times PIC informed the police of illegal migrants entering the country. Both the relevant District Prosecution and the Supreme State Prosecution shared the view that PIC's actions did not amount to a crime, according to him.

Average pay down in April

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's average monthly gross pay in April amounted to EUR 1,730.70, a 1.2% decrease on March in nominal terms and a 2% decrease in real terms mainly due to lower extra payments, shows Statistics Office data. The average April gross pay was higher year-on-year by 4% in nominal terms and 2.3% in real terms. The average net pay for April was EUR 1,114.98, which is again higher than last year's April net pay - by 3.3% in nominal terms and 1.6% in real terms. Compared to March, the average net pay for April decreased by 1.4% in the public sector and by 1% in the private one.

Slovenian companies to build Croatia's biggest regional waste centre

ŠIBENIK, Croatia - The builder GH Holding and a group of other Slovenian construction companies signed a deal with public utility company Bikarac from Croatia's Šibenik on the construction of a EUR 26.5 million waste management centre, the biggest regional centre in the country. The EU-funded project, which is expected to take 30 months, includes the construction of a modern facility for mechanical biological treatment of waste, support facilities, a compositing plant, road, substation and the supply of vehicles to be used at the centre. The consortium also includes VGP Drava Ptuj and Pomgrad.

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17 Jun 2019, 02:57 AM

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Maribor judge target of attempted murder

MARIBOR - A Maribor district judge was severely injured in an attack outside her home in the wee hours in an incident the police are investigating on suspicion of an attempted murder. Head of Maribor crime investigators, Andrej Kolbl, confirmed the victim was Daniela Ružić, a judge at the corporate crime department of the Maribor District Court, known for being responsible for several high-profile cases. The judge is outside life-threatening condition. The motive for the attack, which drew widespread condemnation, remains unclear.

Šarec party keeps ahead in Vox Populi poll

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's party remains in the lead in the latest Vox Populi poll at 24%, nearly six percentage points ahead of the opposition Democratic Party (SDS), at 18.1%. Both parties gained ground on the month before. The coalition SocDems are third on 9.8%, followed by the opposition New Slovenia on 6.5% in fourth. The proportion of respondents happy with the government's job rose by one percentage point to 59.5%. President Borut Pahor continues to rank as the most popular politician.

Slovenia gains two spots to 8th on Global Peace Index

SYDNEY, Australia - Slovenia placed eighth among 163 countries in the latest Global Peace Index, having climbed two spots from last year. Iceland remains the world's most peaceful country for the 12th year running, ahead of New Zealand and Portugal. Slovenia placed below Singapore in 7th and Japan in 9th. Of the neighbouring countries only Austria ranks higher, in 4th. The report is produced by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace with data collected and collated by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Amendments in pipeline to streamline public contracting

LJUBLJANA - The Public Administration Ministry has drawn up legislative amendments in a bid to provide full legal remedy in public contracting procedures and make public procurement law more effective. The amendments will make it possible to challenge decisions by the National Review Commission, Slovenia's topmost public procurement authority, in the Administrative Court within 15 days. The review commission will be expanded from five to seven members and conditions for candidates will be stiffened.

Maribor airport operator deep in red in 2018

MARIBOR - Aerodrom Maribor, the operator of Maribor Airport, made a loss of EUR 2.2 million under Chinese ownership last year on a mere EUR 810,000 in revenue, according the annual report posted with AJPES, the agency for public legal records. Overall revenue was by about 100,000 higher than the year before, but still insufficient to cover the cost of the lease. The airport served 2,700 passengers and 234 tonnes of cargo. The airport's management will taken over by the state-owned firm DRI in mid-July.

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15 Jun 2019, 22:20 PM

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Diaspora minister hopeful about young leaders

LJUBLJANA - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Peter J. Česnik expressed concern in an interview with the STA about nationalist sentiment expressed in Italy and Hungary. He also hopes that young generations taking over minority organisations will be able to work together even more closely than the old guard. In recent weeks, maps indicating territorial tendencies have been shared online by an official Twitter account of the Hungarian government and a right-leaning Forza Italia member. Soon after, another Forza Italia member proposed legislative changes to hold a population census in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region to determine language groups.

Steel group SIJ's revenue up, profit down

LJUBLJANA - Steel group SIJ revenue grew by 6.3% to EUR 802.8 million in 2018, but net profit was down by 66% to EUR 4.9 million, the group said on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange on Friday. Despite the drop in profit, the group is still stable, SIJ said, noting that in 2018 its steel production rose further and the share of steel with higher added value in its sales remained high. "We increased sales and being an export-oriented company, we generated most revenue in foreign markets," SIJ said in the press release. Exports accounted for 84.6% of the group's total revenue or EUR 679.3 million.

Fire near Cerknica did not affect air quality

CERKNICA - The fire that broke out at an insulation facility near the town of Cerknica in SW on Thursday evening has not caused air pollution, analyses have shown. Data on air quality collected near a local primary school on Saturday are comparable to those collected elsewhere in the country, the Environment Ministry said. The ministry is still analysing water samples from the Rak stream. The fire broke out at Fragmat, a thermal insulation panel maker. It started on the styrodur panel machine and then spread onto the warehouse, encompassing a total of 40,000 square metres. The facility has been completely destroyed.

Youth organisation wins WHO award for anti-tobacco efforts

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The youth organisation No Excuse Slovenia has won a prestigious award by the World Health Organization (WHO) for its contribution to the global anti-tobacco efforts and the passage of anti-tobacco legislation in Slovenia in 2017. Founded in 2006, No Excuse Slovenia has been striving for positive social change, especially in terms of sustainable development and public health. Through various projects it encourages young people to think critically, propose changes and act.

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