Ljubljana related

20 Oct 2019, 01:14 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:

Beethoven's "gift" to Ljubljana comes out in facsimile edition

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Academy of Music published a facsimile of a copy of Ludwig van Beethoven's manuscript of Symphony No. 6 containing the composer's handwritten corrections, allegedly Beethoven's present to the Philharmonic Society in Ljubljana in gratitude for being admitted as its honorary member in 1819. Kept by the National and University Library (NUK), the Ljubljana copy of the Pastoral Symphony is one of the two preserved copies of Beethoven's autograph score. The English-Slovenian facsimile edition was launched in Ljubljana on Friday.

Lafarge planning to resume operations in Trbovlje

TRBOVLJE - Delo reported that Lafarge Cement, the Slovenian subsidiary of the Switzerland-headquartered multinational LafargeHolcim, asked for an environmental permit to resume cement grinding, storage and dispatch in Trbovlje at the beginning of next year. In February 2015 Lafarge Cement suspended operations, due to a ban following a loss of an environmental permit. Eko Krog, the environmental NGO that has been fighting the company for years, fears it might try to use the permit for other purposes.

Marifarm aiming to make own medicines

MARIBOR - The Maribor-based pharmaceutical company Marifarm is gradually implementing its strategy of becoming a drug manufacturer instead of just packaging drugs. So far, it has been manufacturing drugs for other pharmaceutical companies, but Marifarm plans to enter the market with its own drugs. The company was privatised in 2016, being acquired by Arterium International, a company registered in Amsterdam, which invested over EUR 11 million in three years. In August the ownership passed to the Vienna-based Aquer GMBH group, while Arterium International remains Marifarm's strategic partner.

Notary fees go up for first time in decade

LJUBLJANA - Notary fees rose slightly today for the first time in more than a decade. Some of the notary fees have not been adjusted to inflation since 2002 and have also gone down several times. The rise has been agreed in intensive talks between the Notary Chamber and the Justice Ministry. For example, the fee for verification of signatures on a contract worth up to EUR 4,590 rose by a euro to EUR 6. The cost of compiling a contract worth between EUR 114,750 and EUR 367,200 went up from EUR 275 to EUR 314.

Golden Drum festival closes with award ceremony

PORTOROŽ - McCann Worldgroup was declared the most successful agency network for the forth consecutive year as the 26th Golden Drum festival came to a close in Portorož on Friday night. Milan-based Publicis Italy took the Golden Rose for the best advertising agency and SOK Media from Helsinki won the Golden Dragon Award for the best independent advertising agency. The two-day festival, hosted by the Slovenian Advertising Agency, attracted around 1,000 visitors.

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19 Oct 2019, 01:33 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 says EU's credibility shaken after no to N Macedonia, Albania

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Commenting on the EU summit's failure to greenlight the launch of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said that an opportunity had been missed, that the damage was done now and that the EU's credibility in the region was shaken. There will be problems in the future, because these countries will no longer trust the EU and it is uncertain whether we will manage to put them on the European path, Šarec said in Brussels.

Slovenia wants Croatia Schengen decision taken by next Commission

LJUBLJANA - Six Slovenian MEPs urged for the decision on Croatia's readiness to join the Schengen zone to be taken by Ursula von der Leyen's European Commission, arguing that such a strategic decision should not be taken by an outgoing Commission. In the appeal addressed to von der Leyen, Jean-Claude Juncker, and current and next president of the European Council, all Slovenian MPs, bar the pair from the ranks of the opposition Democrats (SDS), say it would be completely incomprehensible if a decision with long-term and strategic consequences for the EU was to be taken by Junker's Commission. This view was also expressed in the evening by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec.

Views on budget divided on Finance Committee but no amendments adopted

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee discussed as the final among the committees the budget documents for 2020 and 2021. While views were divided along the coalition-opposition divide - the opposiiton does not agree the record high budgets are development-oriented - no amendments were adopted. The National Assembly is expected to vote on the budget documents in November.

Cerar discusses EU and Mediterranean issues in Cyprus

NICOSIA, Cyprus - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides as part of an official visit to Cyprus for a exchange of views on topical developments in the EU, Mediterranean and the Middle East. Cerar also discussed the topics with Parliament Speaker Demetris Syllouris. Cerar called Cyprus a valuable partner and called for close cooperation in the time leading up to Slovenia's presidency of the EU in 2021. Cerar was accompanied on the two-day visit by a business delegation.

Committee established in support of Catalan leaders

LJUBLJANA - A committee in support of Catalan leaders held its maiden session in Ljubljana to protest against the lengthy prison sentences handed out to the nine independence leaders as well as against the EU institutions' silence on the issue. The committee was set up at the initiative of former President Milan Kučan, philosopher and sociologist Spomenka Hribar, Ljubljana Faculty of Arts professor Rudi Rizman and former Foreign Minister Ivo Vajgl. It currently numbers more than 40 members.

SOVA boss defends hiring at intel agency

LJUBLJANA - SOVA director Rajko Kozmelj argued there was nothing amiss in the hiring of a female acquaintance of PM Marjan Šarec by the intelligence agency in an interview with the weekly Mladina. He said the person in question had not been employed through a public call for applications because "the hiring had been made before we introduced new rules". He denied having spoken to Šarec or his aide about the employment beforehand. He also called for greater powers for SOVA in addition to better oversight.

Army chief abandons prosecution of fmr force commander

LJUBLJANA - The chief of staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, Major General Alenka Ermenc, withdrew her proposal for the prosecution of Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc whom she had dismissed as the army's force commander in April. While Ermenc had reported Škerbinc to the military police on 17 May this year with the claim his commenting of her health had harmed her reputation, the Defence Ministry now announced Ermenc had changed her mind on 10 September.

Slovenian officials attend IMF and World Bank meetings

WASHINGTON, US - Central bank Governor Boštjan Vasle and Finance Ministry State Secretary Metod Dragonja are in Washington for the main part of the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The meetings will be culminating with a session of the International Monetary and Financial Committee of the IMF and the joint World Bank-IMF Development Committee. The Slovenian delegation will also be holding meetings with IMF and World Bank officials.

Committee hears drawing of EU funds has improved

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary EU Affairs Committee debated a quarterly report on Slovenia's drawing of EU funds in 2014-2020, noting progress in several areas. "The drawing is not ideal yet, but has improved considerably. With the three most productive months ahead, we expect it to further significantly improve by the end of the year," said Nevenka Ribič of the Government Office for Development and Cohesion Policy. By the end of August 2019, decisions had been issued for 82% of all EU funds available.

Ex-minister loses privacy lawsuit against ant-graft watchdog

LJUBLJANA - Ex-Education Minister Stanka Setnikar Cankar lost a EUR 31,000 damages suit against the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption for making public her earnings as a Public Administration Faculty professor, which cost her her ministerial job in 2015. The Ljubljana District Court rejected her claim even though the Supreme Court found in 2017 that the commission violated her constitutional right to personal data protection by releasing the data without having legal grounds to do so.

Slovenia joins anti-human trafficking campaign

LJUBLJANA - On the eve of EU Anti-Trafficking Day, 18 October, the European Crime Prevention Network and 24 European countries, including Slovenia, launched a prevention campaign. The Slovenian government also appointed a task force to combat human trafficking on Thursday to compile periodic action plans and monitor their implementation. The government also adopted the first report on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention against violence against women and domestic violence, finding major progress.

Sawn-off hand case sees its day in court

LJUBLJANA - Pre-trial hearings were held at the Ljubljana District Court in an insurance fraud scheme case in which a young woman cut off her hand at the beginning of the year to claim insurance. Two suspects pleaded not guilty, one was absent, while the hearing for Julija Adlešič, the 21-year-old who cut off her hand, was suspended for procedural reasons. Her 29-year-old partner Sebastien Abramov, who allegedly put her up to it, pleaded not guilty. They are both in custody.

Poet Simon Jenko remembered 150 years after death

KRANJ - Marking the 150th anniversary of the death of poet Simon Jenko, the city of Kranj is hosting Jenko's Days, a festival during which the Slovenian Writers' Association will give out the Jenko Prize for best poetry collection in the past two years. Jenko (1835-1869) wrote love, reflective and patriotic poems, excelling particularly at tender and bitter love poems and at reflective lyrical poetry. Living in Vienna, he wrote Obrazi (Faces), a series of poems inspired by Heine's sentimental lyrical poems.

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18 Oct 2019, 01:31 AM

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Šarec welcomes Brexit deal, urges start of accession talks for N Macedonia

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Arriving for a two-day EU summit, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec welcomed the deal on an orderly Brexit reached by EU and British negotiators and expressed the hope that the deal would get support in the UK, as "time is really running out". Šarec said he was happy with the deal. He warned that unless EU leaders gave North Macedonia the go-ahead to start EU accession talks, the situation there would get unpredictable. He said a positive decision was being legitimately expected in Skopje.

Two proposals for electoral reform on govt table

LJUBLJANA - The government got acquainted with two draft proposals for electoral reform after the current system was declared unconstitutional a year ago. Now it is up to the parliamentary parties to state their opinion, said Public Administration Minister Rudi Medved. Under one proposal, electoral units would remain roughly the same, while electoral districts would be scrapped, so parties would run with 11 candidates in each electoral unit, and voters would have the option of a relative preferential vote. The other solution envisages changing the borders of electoral districts in line with the decision of the Constitutional Court to have approximately the same number of voters in every district.

Tax bills finalised

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee finalised a package of tax bills that slightly reduce the taxation of labour in favour of higher taxes on capital, after adopting last-minute amendments to counter criticism that the legislation amounted to a generous handout to the rich Wednesday evening. Under the legislative package slated for passage at the National Assembly plenary next week, the thresholds for all five brackets will be slightly increased and the general tax credit will rise. In the second and third tax brackets, which cover mostly the middle class, the tax rate will drop by a percentage point. Those on the minimum wage will see their earnings rise only marginally, while those on average pay can expect roughly EUR 150 more per year.

MPs point to lengthy court proceedings and number of unclosed cases

LJUBLJANA - The Justice Committee discussed a report on courts' efficiency in 2018, mostly agreeing with the assessment by the Supreme Court president that courts were successful. The MPs were meanwhile critical of lengthy court proceedings and the number of unsolved cases, with the latter affecting courts' reputation. Presenting the report, Supreme Court President Damijan Florjančič said courts managed the inflow of new cases and continued to reduce the backlog.

Chemistry Institute inaugurates new NMR spectrometer

LJUBLJANA - The Chemistry Institute and the National Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Centre inaugurated a new 600 MHz NMR spectrometer. The inauguration ceremony was attended by representatives of the Japanese and US embassies to Slovenia, including Japanese Ambassador Masaharu Yoshida. The funds for the EUR 1 million investment have been secured through the centre's commercial projects. Its economic partners and co-founders are pharma companies Krka and Lek as well as coatings group Helios.

Foundation stone laid for first Ikea shop in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The construction of the long-awaited first Ikea shop in Slovenia officially started as the foundation stone was laid in the BTC shopping district in Ljubljana. The 31,000 square metre shop, which is expected to employ around 300 people, is to be completed in a year's time. The ceremony was attended by Ikea South East Europe CEO Sara Del Fabbro, who said that the company was looking forward to the opportunity to cooperate with Slovenian suppliers and local communities.

Govt strikes jackal from protected wild animal list

LJUBLJANA - With the population of the jackal in Slovenia stabilising, the government struck the species from the decree on protected wild animal species, setting a transitional period until 1 May 2020 for the relevant rules to be adjusted. The population of the jackal in the country will now be sustainably managed under the legislation governing hunting. The EU law does not require strict protection of the jackal, and expert studies have shown there are no reasons to protect the animal in the national legislation.

Slovenia seeing record number of HFRS cases

LJUBLJANA - More than 230 cases of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) have been recorded in Slovenia so far this year, a record since monitoring started in 1983, according to the government's response to a question raised by Left MP Franc Trček. The figure stands out markedly, with the last outbreaks in 2008, 2012, and 2017 seeing 45, 185 and 76 cases respectively. The government said it would back the introduction of continuous monitoring in case the relevant ministries received professionally-backed and financially sound proposals that would "prove this measure cost effective".

Speculum Artium brings insight into virtual consciousness

TRBOVLJE - The Speculum Artium festival of new media art opened, offering a number of art projects and lectures which deal with virtual consciousness. The three-day festival will showcase Tree, an award-winning virtual reality experience of US-based Serbian artist Milica Zec and designer Winslow Porter which traces a tree's growth from the seed to a full-grown plant, and Digital Shaman, a collaboration of Japanese artist Etsuko Ichihara, company Yaskawa Slovenija and Ljubljana's Jožef Stefan Institute which explores new forms of mourning for the deceased in a digital era.

Ljubljana Marathon aiming for new women's record

LJUBLJANA - After posting a new record in men's category last year, Ljubljana Marathon will now strive for a record in the women's category. The most popular running event in Slovenia will be held on 27 October, with several thousand runners expected to hit the streets of the capital. The organisers are hoping not just to set the women's record below 2:22:00, but also to turn around the dwindling numbers of participants by introducing new sign-up policies and organisational strategies taking into account global trends.

Gymnastics great Cerar celebrates 80th birthday

LJUBLJANA - Former gymnastics great Miroslav Cerar, who will turn 80 at the end of October, is still active in sport, having recently been appointed the head of the Slovenian team for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. An exhibition on his achievements is on display at Ljubljana Town Hall. Cerar describes his successes as a piece in the Slovenian sports mosaic. He speaks bout Slovenian athletic achievements in superlatives, saying they are the most effective promotion of the country possible.

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17 Oct 2019, 02:07 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 defends course in SOVA hiring inquiry

BRDO PRI KRANJU - PM Marjan Šarec denied claims that oversight of the SOVA intelligence agency had been prevented. Taking a swing at the opposition-led parliamentary oversight commission, he insisted the public employees inspectorate and not the commission was responsible for investigating allegations that he had intervened for a friend to get a job at SOVA. Speaking on the sidelines of a conference at Brdo estate, Šarec said that everyone would be informed about the findings. In Facebook post he suggested the commission had become "a politicised body in the service of certain figures from the opposition".

Cerar urges dialogue in Spain, says US Syria withdrawal mistake

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar commented on developments in Spain in the wake of the prison sentences handed down on Catalan leaders by saying he believed the situation should be addressed through dialogue and in a democratic manner. Speaking to the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, he said that Catalan leaders could appeal against the rulings in Spain and abroad. He also expressed the view that the US's withdrawal from northern Syria was a geostrategic mistake.

MPs want more funds for diplomatic missions

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee discussed the draft state budgets for 2020 and 2021, focussing on the Foreign Ministry's budget. The funds are budgeted to increase from EUR 94 million this year to EUR 100.4 million in 2020 and EUR 112.6 million in 2021. Minister Miro Cerar said the rise was mostly due to Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021, which would cost the country EUR 80 million. Cerar as well as MPs would also like more funds for diplomatic and consular missions.

Minister orders audit after banned meat additive scandal

LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec decided to launch an internal audit in the government body in charge of food safety following its late reporting on the discovery of a banned additive in ground meat sold in five shops in Slovenia. The minister told the press that she wanted "to examine the story in detail" with the audit in the Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection, which only recently made public the discovery of the banned additive in samples taken in June. "A number of questions need to be answered ... and I want to get to the bottom of it. I will find the one who is responsible for this, if necessary," Pivec said.

Illegal migration slowed down in September

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian police recorded a drop in illegal migration in September, however the number of illegal border crossings in the first nine months of the year is still 70.5% above last year's figure. Since the beginning of the year, police handled 11,786 cases of people crossing into the country illegally. More than 3,000 of them were from Pakistan, and another 1,600 from Algeria and 1,300 from Afghanistan. The number of those turned away at the border rose by 14% year-on-year to 3,397.

President welcomes four new ambassadors

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received the credentials of four new non-residential ambassadors, Armenia's Ashot Hovakimian, Morocco's Azzeddine Farhane, South Korea's Shin Chae-hyun and Ghana's Eudora Hilda Quartey Koranteng. Based in Prague, Hovakimian has most recently served as Armenia's deputy minister of foreign affairs. Farhane, a career diplomat, will cover Slovenia from Paris. Ambassador Shin is based in Vienna and Ambassador Eudora Hilda Quartey Koranteng in Rome.

Situation in wake of Adria shutdown stabilising

LJUBLJANA - Adria Airways's receivership caused serious disruption at Ljubljana airport and impacted on Ljubljana tourism, but the situation is slowly getting back to normal as other carriers are restoring Adria's links with SWISS launching scheduled flights between Zurich and Ljubljana today. The airport saw a 10% year-on-year drop in passenger numbers in September. Turizem Ljubljana registered a 10-20% decrease in the number of announced participants in business events and conferences for the second half of September and October. Adria's official receiver Janez Pustatičnik estimated the cost of receivership at EUR 685,622, most of which, EUR 400,000, will go for wages of people handling the procedure.

National security conference calls for expanded police powers

LJUBLJANA - The Day of National Security conference heard calls in favour of beefing up police powers and policing technology to adapt to modern reality. Also highlighted was the need for cooperation between police and other security bodies. Interior Ministry Boštjan Poklukar said that legislative changes were in the pipeline after the Constitutional Court annulled provisions allowing automatic license plate recognition. Defence Minister Karl Erjavec argued that security institutions should be protected against political bickering, and transparent oversight secured.

Slovenia opens consulate in Katovice to support business ties

KATOVICE, Poland - Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, accompanied by a business delegation, took part in a bilateral conference on investment potentials during a two-day visit in Katovice, Poland. He also opened an honorary consulate there on Tuesday. The ministry said that Katovice was a key business hub that generates 13% of the country's GDP. Slovenia's new honorary consul is Tomasz Zjawiony, the head of the city's Chamber of Trade and Industry.

Publisher Delo preparing ground for layoffs

LJUBLJANA - Delo, the largest newspaper publisher in Slovenia, is preparing ground for major staff cut-backs due to a drop in newspaper and magazine sales, and advertising revenue. It is not clear yet how many staff will lose their jobs, but media reports suggest at least 30 people will be made redundant. Delo currently employs 322 people, including 150 journalists. Unionist Simona Fajfar, called the planned layoffs a "disaster". Delo saw its net profit slashed by 46% to EUR 598,000 last year.

Redundancies looming at dairy Mlekarna Celeia

ARJA VAS - Mlekarna Celeia, the Arja Vas-based dairy employing more than 220 workers, is to lay off between 30 and 45 staff on fixed-term contracts according to unofficial information. The company told the STA it was planning a set of measures to raise productivity in a bid to improve business results and secure long-term development. The co-operatives-owned dairy saw its revenue increase by 2% in 2018 to EUR 61 million, but incurred a loss of EUR 270,000 after generating a profit of EUR 500,000 in 2017.

Report reveals new contentious payments at Ljubljana University

LJUBLJANA - After a number of revelations showing that the Ljubljana and Maribor universities paid out millions of euros to professors in addition to their salaries, the commercial broadcaster POP TV reported about internal audits at the University of Ljubljana showing that nearly EUR 12 million had been paid to 200 employees in addition to their salaries between 2016 and 2018. The funds were paid out on the bases of freelance contracts.

Police welcome eagerly-awaited multi-purpose helicopter

BRNIK - An AgustaWestland AW169 helicopter was welcomed at the helipad of the airborne police unit at the Ljubljana airport, in what is an essential addition to the police fleet which has so far numbered only two airworthy aircraft. The eagerly-awaited twin-engine, 10-seat helicopter will be used for all police tasks and is a major addition to the fleet, said Dejan Kink, the commander of the airborne police unit, told the press. Worth EUR 14.6 million, this is the first new helicopter in the last 12 years at the helipad. It is expected to be fully operational in half a year.

Slovenian PEN joins protest against jailing of Catalan authors

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian PEN Centre joined the protest by PEN International against the prison sentences imposed on the Catalan writers and civil society leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart by the Spanish Supreme Court. While PEN International said that the nine-year prison sentences for Sanchez and Cuixart were "shocking" and that they must be annulled, the Slovenian organisation called on the government and the highest authorities in the country to "take a clearer and more resolute stance on the developments in Spain and the trampling on the human rights."

German translations in focus of Slovenia's Frankfurt fair promotion

FRANKFURT, Germany - Slovenian literature is being promoted at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair with a focus on German translations, as the country gears up to be the guest of honour at the world's largest book show in 2022. The country's promotion features a national stall and nine events, including a talk with Drago Jančar, who will promote his award-winning novel In Ljubezen Tudi (Wenn die Liebe Ruht), translated by Daniela Kocmut, at Das Blaue Sofa (Blue Sofa), the most prestigious stage at the fair.

On World Food Day, calls for safe and quality food

LJUBLJANA - On World Food Day, a panel debate featuring various stakeholders heard that cooperation between agriculture, education, environment and healthcare was needed to secure safe and healthy food, in addition to awareness-raising campaigns. Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec said that food in Slovenia was of very good quality, but there should be more organic food. Statistics show that Slovenian consumers spend EUR 1,400 per capital on food a year. Slovenia imported 1.7 billion worth of food and exported EUR 1 billion in 2018.

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16 Oct 2019, 01:21 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:

IMF downgrades Slovenia's GDP growth projection to 2.9%

LJUBLJANA - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has downgraded its projection of growth of the Slovenian gross domestic product (GDP) for this year from 3.4% to 2.9%, with the correction following the recent downgrade by the government macroeconomic think tank IMAD to 2.8%. In its latest World Economic Outlook Report, the IMF says that the growth rate of 2.9% is also expected to be recorded in Slovenia in 2020.

FM regrets France's objections to EU enlargement

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar expressed regret over France's opposition to North Macedonia and Albania joining the bloc, which prevented EU affairs ministers from initiating accession talks for the two countries. Cerar believes that North Macedonia and Albania could still receive a go-ahead to start the negotiations at an EU summit starting on Thursday. He also commented once more on the guilty verdicts handed down to former Catalan leaders on Monday. Reiterating that this was an internal affair and Slovenia would not interfere, he also said today that he found the sentences harsh and long. He also called for a restoration of dialogue between Spain and Catalonia and a peaceful solution.

Constitutional Court head defends judge accused of bias

LJUBLJANA - Constitutional Court President Rajko Knez denied the allegation by court judge Klemen Jaklič, who in his dissenting opinion to the court's decision on the amendments to the foreigners act yesterday accused fellow judge Matej Accetto of political bias and lying. Knez denied that Accetto mislead the court about his ties with the Modern Centre Party (SMC) when the court deliberated on whether he should exclude himself from decision-making about a 2017 referendum on the Koper-Divača rail project. Knez declared the attempt to publicly discredit Accetto as unacceptable.

Economy Ministry and BAMC officials meeting Lufthansa after Adria shutdown

FRANKFURT, Germany - Economy Ministry State Secretary Eva Štravs Podlogar, accompanied by the top executives of Slovenia's bad bank, met with representatives of Lufthansa in Frankfurt to analyse the aviation market in the wake of the receivership of the German-owned Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways. The ministry said the visit was part of the market analysis and that any potential decisions on the part of the government would also need to consider the plans of Lufthansa, former Adria's key partner, which has already established a few new links with the Ljubljana airport through its subsidiaries.

Commission calls on govt to allow SOVA staffing investigation

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services, which is examining allegations that PM Marjan Šarec intervened to secure a job at the SOVA intelligence agency for a friend, expressed expectation that the government would allow it to conduct an inquiry into the matter. While SOVA refused to reveal any staffing-related matters to the commission, commission chair Matej Tonin presented a legal opinion he commissioned, stating that data about the hiring of individuals should only be off limits to the commission in case their identity was classified. While the parliamentary legal service would not take a position, jurist Rajko Pirnat said that the legal solution envisaged in such situations gave the final word to the government.

Alpina doing well after restructuring, launching new brands

ŽIRI - The shoe maker Alpina is doing relatively well after undergoing financial restructuring by the new owners. It is remodelling its business and sale concept, and also plans to revive in the spring the once celebrated shoe brand Peko, acquired at the beginning of last year. Interim director Gregor Krajnc told the STA that Alpina improved its performance in 2017 and 2018. Last year the group generated EUR 52 million in sales revenue and EUR 2 million in net profit, with some extra revenue coming as a result of the financial restructuring.

Anti-trust watchdog imposes EUR 54m fine on Agrokor

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Competition Protection Agency has imposed a EUR 53.9 million fine on Croatia's Agrokor for failing to notify it of the takeover of the water bottling company Costella. In the procedure over failure to notify concentration between Agrokor AG in Ardeya Global Ltd., the agency also issued a EUR 5,000 fine to the executive in charge.

Banned additive in minced meat mixture sparks controversy

LJUBLJANA - The government body in charge of food safety has come under fire for not informing consumers on time of the discovery of a banned additive in minced meat sold in five shops in Slovenia. Responding to the criticism, it said today consumers need not be informed if the product was no longer in circulation. The story broke in the media after the Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection published last week the names of the shops where the presence of a sulfite in minced meat mixtures had been detected in June.

Draft budget plan sent to European Commission

BRUSSELS, Belgium - In keeping with the EU rules on budgetary procedures, the government has already sent Slovenia's draft budget plan for 2020 to the European Commission, which published it today. The budget plan involves not only the government budget but the public finances as a whole. It also takes into account the latest forecasts by government macroeconomic think tank IMAD.

August wages down in monthly comparison

LJUBLJANA - The average wage in Slovenia in August was EUR 1,725.91 gross or EUR 1,114.16 net. Compared to July, the gross wage was down 0.7% in nominal and 1.1% in real terms, while the net wage was down 0.4% and 0.8%, respectively, the Statistics Office said. Compared to the month before, net wages in August were down by 0.9% in the public and by 0.2% in the private sector.

Radon responsible for 90 to 180 deaths a year in Slovenia

CELJE - An estimated 90 to 180 people die in Slovenia each year as a result of exposure to radon, a gas causing lung cancer. While lung cancer is on average responsible for 1,300 deaths, radon-related deaths exceed the 90 to 150 deaths a year caused by road accidents, the Slovenian Radiation Protection Administration noted at a debate on radon exposure in Celje. The south-eastern Dolenjska region and central Slovenia have the highest amounts of radon.

First Partisan movement film in independent Slovenia premiering tonight

LJUBLJANA - The Partisan film, a subgenre of war films that used to be a staple of Yugoslav cinema, made a comeback with the premiere of Preboj (Breakthrough). The first Partisan film since Slovenia became independent celebrates a 1945 battle of 500 Partisan insurgents surrounded by a 12,000-strong SS division. The low-budget film, financed by voluntary contributions, is directed by Dejan Babosek.

Mysterious WWII tunnels popular tourist sight in Maribor

MARIBOR - Tunnels dug by Nazi Germany in the Slovenian city of Maribor at the end of 1943 for protection against air raids by the Allies have become an increasingly popular tourist sight since they were opened to public two years ago. The tunnels were made when the Nazis launched a Luftfahrtwerke Steiermar aircraft engine factory in the city they occupied two days after invading Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941.

Novo Mesto police bust migrant smuggling ring

DOBOVA - The Novo Mesto police, which noticed signs of a migrant smuggling ring on the south-eastern section of the border with Croatia a year ago, said they had caught 11 individuals suspected of involvement in at least 30 smuggling operations. The investigation showed that prices for the transport of individual migrants ranged between 300 and 400 euros.

Police seize 13 kilos of heroin on train destined for Austria

DOBOVA - Police officers at the Dobova border crossing with Croatia (E) have discovered 13 kilos of heroin on a passenger train from Turkey destined for Austria. After the train stopped at the border on Saturday, the police officers checking it found the heroin in a duffel bag located in the wagon used by the train staff.

Slovenia ranks 11th in EU in gender equality

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia places 11th on the EU-28 Gender Equality Index, a benchmark for gender equality in the bloc, which was released on Tuesday by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). The country's score is 0.9 points higher than the EU average of 67.4.

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15 Oct 2019, 01:59 AM

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PM Šarec makes case for EU enlargement to W Balkans

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec made a case for the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans ahead of a two-day European Council meeting. In a letter to the Council president and EU heads of states and government, he said that yet another postponement of the decision on the start of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania should not be an option. He proposes two individual decisions based on merit in which the recommendations of the European Commission, the reform process and the enormous political will, courage and political capital invested in addressing outstanding bilateral issues must be taken into account. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said that he would strive to present these arguments as clearly as possible to his counterparts on Tuesday at the foreign affairs summit.

Contentious provisions in foreigners act annulled

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court announced it annulled part of the controversial amendments passed in January 2017 that define a special temporary regime on the border in the event of mass migration. The court believes that the changes violate Article 18 of the Constitution, which guarantees the principle of non-refoulement. The annulled clause does not guarantee access to fair and effective legal procedure that would guarantee a substantive assessment that refoulement could not put the person in jeopardy of non-humane and degrading treatment. The Court annulled clause 10.b which would effectively allow the country to suspend asylum law in special circumstances that would have to be endorsed by absolute majority in parliament.

Cerar says Slovenia should not interfere in Spain's sovereign affairs

LUXEMBOURG - Responding to the prison sentences handed in Spain to Catalan leaders, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said Spain was a sovereign country and that the sovereignty of its internal legal order needed to be respected. "We must not interfere in this," Cerar said after an EU ministerial in Luxembourg, arguing others also respected Slovenia's legal order. He said the emotional reactions in Slovenia were understandable, but argued Slovenia's and Catalonia's independence efforts were not comparable. Ex Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel on the other hand spoke of an "enormous scandal" and analyst Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič of "distinctively political" judicial arguments.

EU court postpones border arbitration opinion to December

LUXEMBOURG - The European Court of Justice has postponed for more than a month Advocate General Priit Pikamäe's independent legal opinion on the admissibility of Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia because of the latter's refusal to respect the 2017 border arbitration award. Pikamäe's decision will be known on 11 December and not on 6 November. The court, confirming the postponement for the STA, did not elaborate on its reasons for this step, but it did say that such postponements were quite common, occurring once a month on average, mostly in cases when the advocate general needed more time to prepare the legal opinion.

New housing bill aims to provide easier access to flats

LJUBLJANA - The Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry presented a new housing bill proposal that aims to make housing more accessible to those in precarious jobs, young families and the poor, as well secure more effective management of apartment blocks. It also makes it harder for owners to rent out their apartment through Airbnb, making this conditional on the approval of all apartment owners in their building. Also planned is a kind of national real estate agency that would facilitate the renting out of empty apartments.

Slovenia, Croatia to launch cooperation in treatment of congenital heart disease

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian and Croatian health minsters Aleš Šabeder and Milan Kujundžić agreed that their departments would relaunch cooperation in treating children with congenital heart disease. This comes after Slovenia gave up the plan to establish a regional treatment centre with the help of a US-based surgeon. Šabeder said today that the next meeting in Zagreb would already feature representatives of the Ljubljana UKC and the Zagreb KBC hospitals to work out the next steps and define more closely the areas of cooperation. They will also talk about sending patients with congenital heart disease for treatment abroad.

SOVA turns to police, prosecution over leaking of information

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's intelligence and security agency SOVA denounced "known and unknown perpetrators" to the State Prosecutor's Office and police over the suspicion of unauthorized disclosure of classified information. The move comes after information about staffing at SOVA was leaked to the media following a visit by the parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services. The commission was there on 1 October to check allegations that PM Marjan Šarec had intervened to secure a job to a friend, a former employee of the municipality of Kamnik, where Šarec was mayor before becoming prime minister.

Labour minister highlights long-term unemployment and precarious work

LJUBLJANA - Labour Minister Ksenija Klampfer has been busy recently with cooling down conflicts among social partners and facing talks on the social agreement and a more substantial pension reform. In an interview with the STA, Klampfer said she was focussed on tackling the issues, including long-term unemployment and precarious work. She also warned about another issue - employees being available 24/7 to their employers through phones and emails, saying that would have to be addressed by balancing out the work and private lives and thus improving employees' mood, health and the falling birth rate, another burning issue, according to Klampfer.

Šarec party all but tied with Janša's SDS in Delo poll

LJUBLJANA - The party of PM Marjan Šarec has lost ground in the latest poll by Delo, its lead ahead of the opposition Democrats (SDS) reduced from four to one percentage point. The LMŠ lost 2.1 percentage points on the month before to 16.8%, as the SDS gained a point to 15.7%. Delo blames the LMŠ's slip on the allegations Šarec had intervened for a friend of his to get a job at the intelligence agency, the spat with the Left and bickering within the minority coalition. The coalition SocDems lost 0.4 percentage points to 6% and the opposition Left 1.1 point to 5.3%.

Maritime traffic control being set up in Koper

KOPER - The Slovenian Maritime Administration signed a EUR 2.6 million contract with the Italian company Elman last week to set up a national maritime traffic control and crisis management centre in a bid to minimise the likelihood of emergency events. The total contractual value of the works is just over EUR 2.6 million, with the investment in the centre estimated at almost EUR 2.29 million, maintenance costs excluded. The EU will chip in EUR 1.56 million.

Nuclear accounts for 42% of Slovenia's energy output

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia met 52% of its energy needs by own sources of energy in 2018. Of the 148,000 terajoules (TJ) in total energy production, the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) accounted for 42%. Renewable sources of energy, including hydro-power, contributed 32% to the output and coal 25%. Other sources represented less than 0.5%, the Statistic Office reported. Petroleum products represented a third of energy supply (34%), with nuclear accounting for 22%, renewable sources (including hydro energy) for 17%, coal for 16% and natural gas for 11%.

Czech state reportedly selling Vipap Videm to private owners

KRŠKO - The Czech government is reportedly selling Vipap Videm Krško, the largest Slovenian paper producer, to a holding owned by a team of private investors from the Czech Republic. The company is struggling with red figures and the sale is unavoidable, with the new owner expected to carry on with financial and business restructuring. The web portal Siol said the Krško-based company is to be sold by the Czech Finance Ministry to RIDG Holding, which is controlled by the investment group Portiva and the consultancy IPIDC.

Art patron Zois presented as centre of Slovenia's Enlightenment

LJUBLJANA - The National and University Library (NUK) will open on Tuesday an exhibition on art patron Žiga Zois (1747-1819), one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment era in Slovenia, marking the bicentenary of his death by displaying selected works from his library. The display has been prepared in cooperation with the research centre ZRC SAZU and includes 50 works along with Zois's reflections. Zois was the first to systematically collect Slovenian books, promoting literary pillars of Slovenianhood. The exhibition will be on display until 26 April.

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14 Oct 2019, 02:06 AM

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Velenje mine operator back in red, problems spell trouble for TEŠ

VELENJE - Premogovnik Velenje, the mine operator supplying coal to the TEŠ thermal power plant, has slipped back into the red last year after it managed to stay in the black for three years. It posted a loss of EUR 3.8 million, after generating a net profit of EUR 3.4 million the year before. Net sales revenue was down by 5.2% to EUR 108.6 million. The company also did not meet its production plan for this year, falling 469,652 tonnes short of its 3.6 million tonnes goal. 2018 was a very demanding year production-wise, as the company faced a lot of problems in preparation of new mining fields.

SD condemns Turkish operation in Syria

LJUBLJANA - The coalition Social Democrats (SD) condemned the Turkish military operation in Syria and called on Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop all military activities immediately. The operation is undermining the foundation and values upon which the rule-based world order has been built, according to party vice-president Matjaž Nemec. Turkey is violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbour and the operation allows and encourages ethnic cleansing and is changing the demographics by force.

Cyclist Roglič helps top sailor Vinčec and crew win Barcolana

TRIESTE, Italy - Sailor Gašper Vinčec and his crew won this year's Barcolana, the biggest mass start sailing regatta in the world. The crew also included cycling sensation Primož Roglič, a former ski-jumper, who became the first Slovenian to win a grand tour race, when a month ago he won the La Vuelta. The crew were not deemed the favourites of the race that featured more than 2,000 sail boats, after legal complications prevented him to compete with Morning Glory, one of the fastest sail boats in the world that Vinčec has been leasing. Instead, they competed with Way of Life, Vinčec's own 24-metre sail boat.

13 Oct 2019, 01:37 AM

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Pledges to boost ties on bridge linking Slovenia and Austria

GORNJA RADGONA - The border communities of Gornja Radgona in Slovenia and Bad Radkersburg in Austria marked the 50th anniversary of the bridge linking them with a high-profile ceremony that sent out a message that the countries would like to make their cooperation even better. The ceremony was addressed by Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and the Governor of Austrian Styria, Hermann Schützenhöfer, who also met for an informal meeting that confirmed good relations between Slovenia, Austria and Styria. The concrete bridge over the Mura was inaugurated on 12 October 1969 by Yugoslavia's leader of the time Josip Broz Tito and Austrian President Franz Jonas. The two countries built the bridge together.

FinMin discusses EU capital markets union in Slovakia

POPRAD, Slovakia - Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj talked about the significance of establishing an EU capital markets union for the countries of Central and East Europe, as he addressed the Tatra Summit in Slovakia, which saw finance ministers, European commissioners and other senior finance officials discuss various aspects of the EU's competitiveness. Bertoncelj also urged finding balanced solutions at the EU level for a shift away from fossil fuels that would take into consideration country specifics.

MPs want Adria Airways privatisation audited

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee decided to ask the Court of Audit to review the 2016 sale of Adria Airways to the German turnaround fund 4K, and to present its findings to parliament as soon as possible. The decision was taken at a session late on Friday called by the opposition Left after the carrier declared insolvency and entered receivership at the start of the month. Gabrijel Škof, the CEO of Slovenia Sovereign Holding, said the sale, along with the EUR 3.2 million capital injection cost the state less than what it would had Adria ended in receivership back in 2016.

Ljubljana Airport yet to evaluate impact of Adria collapse

LJUBLJANA - Zmago Skobir, the CEO of Fraport Slovenija, spoke about the impact of Adria Airways's collapse on Ljubljana Airport in an interview with Dnevnik. While he could not talk about concrete figures yet, he said that there would certainly be consequences, stemming from Adria's debt as well as from a loss of income. Out of 29 links, the airport lost eight, but Skobir expects most to be re-established. He does not favour founding a new flag carrier for the time being.

Wizzair to fly from Ljubljana to Brussels in winter

LJUBLJANA - The Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizzair will fly between Ljubljana and Brussels in winter despite its initial decision to suspend flights for the 2019-20 winter season. According to the newspaper Finance, Wizzair will be operating flights between Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport and Brussels Charleroi Airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 19 December on. After Adria Airways went bust, Brussels Airlines too announced it would provide six weekly flights to Ljubljana starting from 4 November.

Courts reorganisation afoot, none to be abolished

LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Andreja Katič talked about a reorganisation of the court network in an interview with the newspaper Večer, promising that no courts would be abolished. The ministry has draw up a draft proposal but it now faces a lengthy discussion in the judiciary and at the political level before it can be put to parliament. Despite the promise in the coalition agreement, the minister does not expect appointment of judges to be transferred from parliament to the Judicial Council this term.

Hidria posts lower profit on higher revenue

IDRIJA - Hidria Holding, the company controlling a group that mostly manufactures hi-tech products for the car industry, posted a net profit of EUR 12.3 million for 2018, down 21% over 2017 despite net sales revenue rising by 6.6% to EUR 266.1 million. The Idrija-based group's operating profit dropped by nearly 16% to EUR 16.4 million. The bulk of net revenue, EUR 236.7 million, was generated abroad with EU sales accounting for EUR 218.3 million.

Austrian group acquires another Slovenian casino

PORTOROŽ - The newspapers Delo and Dnevnik reported that the Austrian gaming group Novomatic had taken over Casino Riviera in the Slovenian seaside resort of Portorož a few days ago, which means it now controls nine out of 26 licensed casinos in the country. Through the company Novo Investicije, Novomatic acquired Casino Princess in Nova Gorica in June. In the past few years it took over casinos from Slovenian entrepreneur Joc Pečečnik.

Kidričevo honours post-WWII victims

KIDRIČEVO - A commemoration for soldiers fallen in World War I was held at the Austro-Hungarian military cemetery in the town of Kidričevo. Moreover, a mosaic was unveiled at a new park in town centre to honour those who died at the Sterntal concentration camp after World War II. It is estimated that up to 5,000 people died at the camp after World War II, when the Yugoslav authorities used it as a camp for ethnic Germans living in Slovenia, as well as ethnic Hungarians from the region of Prekmurje.

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12 Oct 2019, 02:10 AM

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Šarec says dialogue with Turkey a must as refugee crisis looms

SKOPJE, North Macedonia - In the wake of Turkey's threats to open the door to the EU to millions of refugees accommodated in its territory, Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said that dialogue with Ankara was a must. Speaking for the public TV station RTV Slovenija on Thursday as he visited North Macedonia, Šarec said he believed that the EU would still be able to find solutions to regulate migration in an effective way. Slovenia has called on Turkey to end the military operation, protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law, with the Foreign Ministry expressing deep concern over the operation.

EU was more dedicated to resolving economic than migration crisis, Pahor says

ATHENS, Greece - Slovenian President Borut Pahor attended a meeting of the Arraiolos group which focussed on solidarity in addressing internal and external security challenges plus the economic and refugee crises, as the key to a stronger EU. He said at the meeting, which featured heads of state of Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Portugal, the EU had been much more successful in addressing the economic crisis than it was now in addressing the migration crisis. He believes a coordinated and effective approach of the entire international community will be needed to address the refugee crisis.

Pahor and Mattarella to commemorate centenary of burning down of Trieste institution

ATHENS, Greece - President Borut Pahor met Italian President Sergio Mattarella on the sidelines of the Arraiolos meeting in Athens. The pair agreed they will together attend a ceremony marking 100 years since the Fascists burnt down Narodni Dom (National Home) in Trieste next year. They believe this will reaffirm the genuine friendship between the two neighbouring countries and nations, Pahor's office said. The Arraiolos meeting, also featuring the presidents of Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Ireland, Latvia, Hungary, Malta, Germany, Poland and Portugal, is discussing the economic situation, migration crisis and the safety of the EU.

Japanese forwarder sets up subsidiary in Slovenia

KOPER - Yusen Logistics, a Japanese supply chain logistics company, opened its subsidiary in the port city of Koper, thus becoming the first Japanese freight forwarder in Slovenia. The launch is an important step for the Slovenian port operator Luka Koper as well since it promotes the transport route via Koper. Yusen Logistics, employing more than 24,000 workers and managing a global network of subsidiaries, has been so far providing services for Slovenia from their Budapest division.

Cerar calls for empowering youth through education

BARCELONA, Spain - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar called for empowering youth through education and intercultural dialogue at the Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona, which was attended by foreign ministers of northern and southern Mediterranean. In his address at the plenary, Cerar said that Slovenia had contributed to the Union for the Mediterranean by initiating the Positive Agenda for the Young in the Mediterranean campaign, which encourages youth empowerment through education and intercultural dialogue.

More funds for defence, yet still not enough for breakthrough

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Defence Committee discussed the state budgets for 2020 and 2021, when funds for the national defence system will nominally rise. In 2020, the Defence Ministry will get EUR 545.85 million and in 2021 EUR 561 million. The latter figure is nominally higher but not if measured as a share in GDP, Defence Minister Karl Erjavec told the MPs. Maj Gen Alenka Ermenc, chief of the general staff, said the funds would be enough to improve the army's readiness and consolidate the achieved level of development, but not "for the much needed development breakthrough".

SOVA says its boss will not resign

LJUBLJANA - Rajko Kozmelj, director of Slovenia's intelligence and security agency SOVA, will not step down, SOVA said as it responded to yesterday's call by opposition SDS leader Janez Janša for Kozmelj to resign. The call came after SOVA refused to give the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission certain information on its staffing practices, arguing it feared further leaks of classified information. SOVA said Kozmelj would continue to focus his efforts on "implementing the strategic goals of SOVA's development". It also said that under Slovenian law, its staffing practices can only be checked by the public administration inspection service.

SDS, NSi and SNS challenge wine, forest, park fines at top court

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi) and National Party (SNS) have asked the Constitutional Court to review fines set in the wine, forests and Triglav National Park (TNP) acts. The parties believe the fines are not only too high but also uncalled-for. The parties recalled a court ruling stating that over-the-top fines without a justifiable reason meant violating the principle of equality before the law, the SDS told the press.

Slovenia suffer setback in Euro 2020 qualifiers in Skopje

SKOPJE, North Macedonia - After scoring three wins in a row, the Slovenian men's national football team suffered a setback on its way to the final tournament as it lost 1:2 to North Macedonia in Skopje last evening. Slovenia will now have to go for a win against Austria in Ljubljana on Sunday to remain in play. Three matches to go in Group E of the qualifiers, Slovenia are tied with North Macedonia at eleven points, trailing Poland (16) and Austria (13).

Short-race cycling specialist Špilak announces retirement

LJUBLJANA - Simon Špilak, one of the most successful Slovenian cyclists, announced retirement from professional competition at the age of 33. His top results include two Tour de Suisse victories and one overall win at the Tour de Romandie. The member of the Swiss team Katusha-Alpecin, who is known for targeting one-week races rather than the three-week Grand Tour races, said the decision had been made "intuitively, from my gut, as they say".

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11 Oct 2019, 02:04 AM

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Slovenia calls on Turkey to end military operation in Syria

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia called on Turkey to end its military operation in north-eastern Syria, protect civilians and respect the international humanitarian law, and also expressed deep concern over the operation. The Foreign Ministry pointed out in a press release that the operation could jeopardise the stability of the region, and the progress achieved in the battle against Islamic State and other terrorist organisations. President Borut Pahor meanwhile labelled the operation unacceptable and said the international community must do everything it can to deter Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan from using force against Kurds.

Unofficial: Constitutional judges annul disputed aliens act amendment

LJUBLJANA - According to unofficial information obtained by the weekly Mladina, constitutional judges have annulled a controversial clause of the aliens act that would allow the country to take steps to suspend asylum law in the event of mass migration. The court meanwhile told the STA that procedures in the case are still ongoing. The amendments were passed in parliament amid major controversy in January 2017 and took effect on 4 February. They introduced the option for the government to shut its borders to migrants in exceptional circumstances by imposing special, temporary system of border checks that would need to be endorsed by an absolute majority in parliament.

Mixed Slovenian reactions to Nobel prizes in literature

LJUBLJANA - Jana Unuk, the translator behind most of the Slovenian translations of the work of Olga Tokarczuk, hailed the Nobel prize winner, while Peter Handke translator Brane Čop described how taken he was by Handke's Storm Still. Philosopher Slavoj Žižek on the other had dismissed Handke as an "apologist of war crimes". He had nothing good to say about the Nobel prizes in general or for Handke, who has Slovenian roots on his maternal side. "This is Sweden today," Žižek was quoted as saying by the Guardian, "an apologist of war crimes gets a Nobel prize while the country fully participated in the character assassination of the true hero of our times, Julian Assange. Our reaction should be: not the literature Nobel prize for Handke but the Nobel peace prize for Assange."

Protestors rally for equality before law, against corruption

LJUBLJANA - Right-wing parties organised a rally, headlined Save Slovenia. Filling the Prešeren Square, the protestors called against corruption and expressed their dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Marjan Šarec. Organised by the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) and former Maribor mayor and upper chamber member Franc Kangler, the rally was also backed by the Democrats (SDS), the biggest opposition party, as well as several non-parliamentary parties and civil initiatives. The SLS said it was attended by 5,000 people, while the police refused to provide an assessment.

Janša demands resignation of intelligence agency head

LJUBLJANA - Democrats (SDS) president Janez Janša called for the resignation of SOVA head Rajko Kozmelj in the wake of the intelligence agency's decision not to give the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission information on the agency's staffing. The call came as SOVA decided to deny the Oversight Commission access to information on the agency's staffing, requested in the wake of allegations that Prime Minister Marjan Šarec had intervened to secure a job to a female friend of his.

Brexit in centre of talks as Pahor meets Irish president

ATHENS, Greece - President Borut Pahor expressed solidarity with Ireland in the face of Brexit as he met President Michael D. Higgins ahead of the Athens Democracy Forum, saying that Slovenia supported efforts for an orderly Brexit, which is in the interest of the EU and the UK. The pair talked about the future of the EU and other topical global issues, but special attention was given to Brexit. Pahor also underlined that Slovenia was fully supportive of the approach adopted by the EU and its head negotiator Michel Barnier.

Slovenian, N Macedonian PMs praise bilateral relations

SKOPJE, North Macedonia - Relations between Slovenia and North Macedonia were in focus as Prime Minister Marjan Šarec met his counterpart Zoran Zaev. He reiterated Slovenia's support that North Macedonia be allowed to launch EU accession talks, expressing hope that the EU summit next week would make a positive political decision. The prime minister's office said in a press release that Šarec and Zaev talked about bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them additionally. They shared the view that the countries nurture a very good relationship of partners at virtually all levels. They expressed satisfaction with regular political dialogue between the countries at all levels and with interest for intensive cooperation in the future.

Govt approves guarantees for two key infrastructure projects

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed a bill on state guarantee for the loans taken out to fund the planned Koper-Divača rail expansion, and an expressway connecting the north and south of the country, two major infrastructure projects in Slovenia. Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said the guarantee for the rail project was restricted to EUR 417 million, and for the Third Development Axis at EUR 360 million. The bill will enable the state-owned companies 2TDK and DARS to negotiate on much lower interest rates for the planned loans, the government said. The move seems to have appeased a group which announced a protest for 17 October over delays with the implementation of the expressway project. The group suspended the protest until parliament takes a vote on the bill.

Coalition bury the hatchet over pensions amendment

LJUBLJANA - The coalition agreed to adopt the Pensioners' Party's (DeSUS) amendment for an exceptional adjustment of pensions in 2020 as the coalition-sponsored amendment, while pledging not to submit any new amendments to budget documents. DeSUS upset coalition partners last week by submitting an amendment to the bill on public wage measures in 2020 and 2021 proposing a 1% indexation of pensions in case of economic growth exceeding 2.5%, rather than 3% as proposed in the government bill. Brane Golubović of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) said the adjustment of pensions would only cost between EUR 5 million and 6 million because it would only apply in December 2020.

Coalition to push its own top-up health insurance abolition plan

LJUBLJANA - The coalition announced it was temporarily suspending talks with the Left on the opposition party's plan for the abolition of top-up health insurance and would instead pursue its own proposal. Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deputy group head Brane Golubović said that the coalition-backed proposal would likely already be on the table at the start of November. The idea is to abolish the current scheme in two steps, the first being to transfer the collection of all contributions to the public health insurance fund ZZZS. The second step would be drawing up a scale for the collection of health insurance contributions in a progressive manner, which could happen next summer.

Government's proposal to subsidise flights voted down

LJUBLJANA - A bill that would allow the government to subsidise air links vital to Slovenia after the carrier Adria Airways ended in receivership was defeated by the parliamentary Infrastructure Committee. The rejection is an irreversible decision and the National Assembly will now be merely acquainted with it. Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said the bill was only meant to create a possibility to be applied if foreign airlines did not establish crucial links with Slovenia's capital. However, the opposition Democratic Party (SDS) and Left argued that the proposal was detrimental, in particular because it contained no estimates how it would affect the state budget.

Potential buyers invited to bid for Adria Airways

BRNIK - The official receiver of Adria Airways published an invitation for bids for all remaining assets of the insolvent airline, with interested parties having until 10 November to express their interest. "With the invitation for non-binding bids I would like to check the interest of potential buyers," receiver Janez Pustatičnik said. The remaining assets include the plot of land on which the office building stands, the building title, claims to buyers, aircraft spare parts, equipment and two flats. Initial estimates indicate the mortgaged plot and the building right could be worth EUR 5 million, and there are EUR 1 million worth of claims for repayment of receivables.

Slovenia faces natural disaster due to bark beetle

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is facing a natural disaster due to an overpopulation of the bark beetle, which has caused EUR 10.5 million in damage so far this year, according to a report by the Slovenian Forest Service, discussed by the government. All conditions have been met to declare a natural disaster, the Forest Service said, while the government tweeted that funds to mitigate the consequences are available in rural development programmes of the current financial perspective of the EU. The increase in bark beetle population was expected after large areas of forest were damaged by strong winds in 2017 in 2018. More than 677,000 cubic metres of trees need to be cut down.

Exports in August up 4.9% year-on-year, imports up by 4.3%

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia exported EUR 2.32 billion worth of goods in August, which is 4.9% more year-on-year, while imports were up by 4.3% to EUR 2.3 billion, according to preliminary data of the Statistics Office. Trade surplus thus stood at EUR 20 million in August, for an exports-to-imports coverage of 100.88%. August was the second month this year in which the value of trade with the EU member states decreased. It was down by 2.5% compared to August 2018 to EUR 1.65 billion. Exports from the EU countries meanwhile reached EUR 1.73 billion, or 1.7% less than in the same month last year, largely because of a drop in trade with Germany as the largest partner to Slovenia.

Industrial output slowing down

LJUBLJANA - The value of industrial output in Slovenia in August was 2% down compared to July and 0.8% higher year-on-year. This was the biggest drop in industrial output at the monthly level this year and the smallest growth at the annual level, the Statistics Office said. Industrial output in August in manufacturing and electricity, gas and steam supply was down compared to July by 1.9% and 0.6%, respectively, while in mining and quarrying it was up 0.5%. Sales revenue in industry was up by 0.7% compared to July, while it was up by 3.4% at the annual level.

Marine Biology Station celebrates 50th anniversary

PIRAN - Slovenia's only institution studying the sea and monitoring its quality is celebrating is 50th anniversary, with the festivities culminating with tonight's ceremony in the coastal town of Portorož. The Piran Marine Biology Station was set up as an independent research centre of the University of Ljubljana's Institute of Biology, the main public research institution for natural sciences in the country. Its main mission is studying the biodiversity of the Slovenian part of the Adriatic Sea, while it is also engaged in a number of other projects.

Marinka Štern wins theatre lifetime achievement award

MARIBOR - Marinka Štern is the recipient of this year's Borštnik Ring for lifetime achievement, the highest accolade conferred in theatre acting. The stage and screen actor, born in 1947, graduated from the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) and then worked at the Mladinsko Theatre (SMG). The 72-year-old has also performed in television and radio productions and cooperated with other national and independent theatres. The winner was announced by the organisers of the 54th Maribor Theatre Festival, to be held between 14 and 27 October. Štern will receive the award at the conclusion of the festival, which will feature more than 40 performances.

Triennial of Contemporary Slovenian Arts kicks off

LJUBLJANA - The U3 Triennial of Contemporary Slovenian Arts will kick off at the Moderna Galerija museum of contemporary art today, exploring three contradictory states - the living and the dead conceptualism, the analogue and fluent material world, and the subconscious as the battlefield of cognitive capitalism. A total of 26 artists and groups coming from five countries are presented at the exhibition, which will be open until 12 January.

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