Ljubljana related

26 Sep 2019, 02:14 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:

FM: To join Schengen, Croatia has to meet legal standards

NEW YORK, US/LJUBLJANA - Commenting on the unofficial media reports about Croatia getting a go-ahead to enter the Schengen area in October, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said that it was in Slovenia's interest to see its neighbour joining Schengen, but only if Croatia showed respect for all EU democratic and legal standards. Meanwhile, Matjaž Nemec, the head of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, indicated that Slovenia might raise an objection to Croatia's joining the Schengen area. The Social Democrat (SD) MP also said that respect for the rule of law should be a key criteria in observing Croatia's compliance.

Adria given a week to present restructuring plan

LJUBLJANA - Adria Airways extended suspension of all its flights bar one daily to and from Frankfurt at least until Friday as the Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) gave the German-owned carrier a week to submit a credible financial restructuring plan or else lose its operational licence. The restructuring plan must be supported by signed lease contracts for aircraft and an air operator's certificate, CAA director Rok Marolt said after meeting the Adria management. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who met the carrier's staff, repeated that solutions would be sought within a comprehensive restructuring.

Šarec highlights Slovenia's ambitious pursuit of 2030 Agenda goals

NEW YORK, US - PM Marjan Šarec addressed the first summit dedicated to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. He noted trends that present challenges, and Slovenia's ambitions pursuit of the agenda's goals. Šarec also attended the opening of the general debate of the 74th General Assembly session, the lunch hosted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and a reception hosted by US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar attended a meeting of the Global Governance Group, saying that it was important the voice of small and medium-sized countries be heard.

Left proceeds with health insurance reform alone

LJUBLJANA - The Left tabled a legislative motion that would in effect abolish supplementary health insurance and replace it with a progressive levy, having failed to find common ground with the coalition parties despite weeks of talks. The motion, in the form of two bills, came despite pleas by the government that it needed more time to hash out the proposal considering its significant effect on public finances. Coalition partners also called for a joint approach to the issue.

Minister reports judge to anti-graft watchdog

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that Justice Minister Andreja Katič had reported Maribor Labour Court president Stanko Omerzu to the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption for having employed at the court a daughter of a witness who testified in his favour in a case in which he stands accused of stalking his ex-lover. The Higher Labour and Social Court will also look into the matter. Omerzu had already been subject to a disciplinary procedure for obstructing justice, but was cleared.

Maribor chancellor urged to resign over suspicious payments

MARIBOR - The teachers' trade union SVIZ urged University of Maribor Chancellor Zdravko Kačič to consider resigning over the contentious payments at the university. The union blames Kačič for failing to immediately present all the facts to the public and notify the police of potential irregularities related to EUR 50 million being paid through works contracts. The trade union of university teachers VSS also demanded explanations. Kačič sees no reason to resign, asserting he was dealing with the situation.

Požar under scrutiny over campaign funding

LJUBLJANA - Bojan Požar, the editor of online tabloid Pozareport who formed a party in 2018, has come under fire over advertising contracts with several state-owned companies, raising concerns about illegal campaign funding. The 24ur.com news portal reported that Požar, who ran without any noteworthy success in both the 2018 general and local elections, received at least EUR 111,000 from Telekom Slovenije and motorway DARS in the election year alone. The Court of Audit indicated it would look into the matter.

Breakthrough innovations honoured

BRDO PRI KRANJU - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) conferred awards for breakthrough innovations at the 17th Innovation Day. Pharma company Lek won two top awards, for a new procedure for the purification of biopharmaceuticals and a new generation of probiotics, while its rival, Krka, was honoured for an innovative generic drug. Other winners were caravan maker Adria Mobil, Domel, ETI Elektroelement, Mediainteractive, Titus Dekani and Lama Avtomatizacija.

Govt tax take rose by 7% last year

LJUBLJANA - General government receipts from taxes and social contributions increased for the fifth year running last year, by 7.2% to EUR 17.3 billion, fresh data from the Statistics Office show. Tax revenue rose by 7.4% to EUR 10.1 billion and the take from social contributions increased by 6.8% to EUR 7.2 billion in 2018. Corporate income tax increased the most, by as much as 16%, and personal income tax rose by 11.5%. Overall tax revenue represented 22% of GDP in 2018.

Laminated wood factory launched in Kočevje

KOČEVJE - The company Koles inaugurated a new facility to produce laminated wood from local timber in the Kočevje industrial park. The EUR 6.13 million investment is expected to create some 25 jobs to the area struggling with high unemployment. The entire production is automated, supervised and controlled, with the current annual capacity in two shifts estimated at 18,000 cubic metres of wood. A third shift is planned to be introduced eventually.

Writer Štefančič wins 2019 Rožanc Prize

LJUBLJANA - Author and TV moderator Marcel Štefančič Jr. was declared the winner of this year's Rožanc Prize for the best essay collection. On Saturday, he will receive the prize for his collection Ivan Cankar: Eseji o Največjem (Ivan Cankar: Essays About the Greatest) about the nation's most honoured writer. Štefančič says that Cankar had a supreme ability to paint stories and write down images.

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25 Sep 2019, 01:37 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:

Adria Airways temporarily suspends operations

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian carrier Adria Airways suspended virtually all its flights for Tuesday and Wednesday due to a shortage of cash, in what is the biggest upset in Slovenian civil aviation in decades. The carrier, sold by the state in 2016 to the German fund 4K Invest, said "the suspension is merely temporary" and that it was looking for solutions together with a potential investor. The cancellations caused frustration for passengers at Ljubljana airport and have already begun to affect tourism. Amid calls for government help, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said the only thing that could save Adria was a well devised restructuring plan agreed with the creditors, while he ruled out giving any money to Adria under its current owner.

Bill on airline subsidies ready

LJUBLJANA - A bill that would allow the Slovenian government to subsidise selected routes to and from Ljubljana Airport has been drafted and could be adopted as early as this week, the Infrastructure Ministry said after Adria Airways temporarily suspended operations. The bill would take effect in the event Adria is grounded for good and would ensure Slovenia retains air links that are deemed vital for the country, which is also one of the conditions for clearance from the European Commission. Route subsidies are one of the only direct ways the state can help. Pure state aid is only permitted every ten years and Adria was bailed out with EUR 50 million in 2011.

Šarec deems Slovenia credible on climate change

NEW YORK, US - Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec attended the UN Climate Summit and a World Economic Forum (WEF) debate on sustainable development, held in New York on Monday as part of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. He said Slovenia was a credible country when it came to climate measures. "It is among the most ambitious countries with regard to the carbon footprint and other environmental issues," he told Slovenian reporters. Šarec said the biggest countries would have to come around and acknowledge that climate change is taking place and join the fight.

Path clear for passage of bill protecting bailed-in bank creditors

LJUBLJANA - The MPs paved the way for the passage of a bill providing recourse for junior creditors affected by the 2013 state-sponsored bailout of banks as it completed the second reading of the bill having processed all the amendments submitted at committee two weeks ago. The general purpose of the bill remains the same as originally proposed by the government: the Slovenian central bank will be subject to lawsuits by holders of subordinated bank bonds and shareholders, and liable for any damages. Finance Ministry State Secretary Metod Dragonja said the government has "sufficient arguments" for this solution in the event the legislation is challenged in court.

Cerar takes part in high-level meeting on Syria

NEW YORK, US - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar took part in a EU-hosted high level meeting on Syria, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, condemning attacks on civilians. Addressing a meeting, which is a continuation of donor conferences in Brussels and the UN, Cerar emphasized that the solution to the Syria conflict could only be a political one. "Violation of international law and basic human rights must end. Justice must be served," Cerar was quoted by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry. The Slovenian foreign minister also held a bilateral meeting with his Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu about ways to enhance bilateral trade.

Business sentiment worsens

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's business sentiment deteriorated in September to 4.8 percentage points, down 1.2 percentage point on the month before and down 3.4% year-on-year, fresh data from the Statistics Office show. The monthly decline was driven by a 0.8 percentage-point deterioration in consumer confidence, and, to a lesser extent falling confidence indicators in manufacturing (-0.4% pp) and retail (-0.2 pp). Dampened optimism in the services sector contributed the most to the year-on-year deterioration with the respective index falling by 1.5 percentage points.

Govt rejects NGOs' criticism of new fossil fuel subsidies

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Bojan Kumer rejected the recent allegation by several NGOs that Slovenia is planning new subsidies for fossil fuels, arguing that such subsidies will be phased out. Slovenia's draft Energy and Climate Plan, to be sent to the European Commission, clearly says such subsidies will be phased out, Kumer said in Brussels. The draft plan says the phasing out will start in 2021, while the final target year has not been set, but Kumer believes it could be completed by 2025.

AmCham Slovenia to continue fostering ties under new head

LJUBLJANA - AmCham Slovenia's new president Sašo Berger presented his plans for enhancing dialogue and improving the business environment at a press conference in Ljubljana. A step in this direction will be made already next week, when AmCham will host an investment and development conference in Ljubljana. Berger, the CEO of S&T Slovenija, said he would strive to strengthen the ties with businesses, state and the civil society, as this was the only way to improve business environment in the country.

Sij honours 150 years of industrial ironworks in Slovenia

JESENICE - Steel maker Sij marked 150 years since the launch of industrial ironworks in Slovenian lands. Ironworks has a very long tradition in Slovenia, but the groundwork for industrial production was laid only in September 1969, when the Kranjska Industrijska Družba was established, merging several small-scale operations in and around Jesenice. The company was the predecessor of what is now Sij group, a Russian-owned employer of nearly 4,000 people, some 40% of the Slovenian metallurgy workforce.

Election officials from Balkans, East Europe meeting in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana is hosting the 28th annual conference and General Assembly meeting of the Association of European Election Officials (ACEEEO) from the Balkans and East Europe. The two-day meet, which started on Tuesday, will discuss judicial protection of electoral rights and the transparency of elections. The conference focuses on the role of election bodies and their dialogue with courts and other interest groups such as voters and political parties in a bid to secure sufficient protection of electoral rights, the Slovenian National Electoral Commission, which co-hosts the event, says on its website.

Festival promoting science kicks off

LJUBLJANA - The 25th Slovenian Festival of Science opened in Ljubljana under the banner When Science Becomes My Passion. Running until Thursday, the festival will bring an abundance of lectures, presentations, experiments and guided tours. The first day celebrated Slovenian rocket scientist Herman Potočnik Noordung (1892-1929), the second day will be dedicated to the Slovenian-born chemist and Nobel Prize laureate Friderik Pregl (1869-1930) and the third to Slovenian missionary Ignacij Knoblehar, active in southerh Sudan in the mid-19th century. The festival is hosted by the Science Foundation in cooperation with researchers of the faculties of chemistry, chemical technology and biotechnology, the National University Library, and science and research organisations from Austria, Sweden, UK, US and China.

Slovenia beat Russia to enter Euro volleyball semi-finals

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian men's national volleyball team is in the semi-finals of the European Championship after beating the defending champions Russia in Ljubljana on Monday evening, earning the chance to win another medal after getting silver in 2015 for its best result to date. Powered by more than 11,000 fans in the sold-out Stožice Arena, Slovenia avenged the 0:3 loss to Russia in the group stage with an incredible and heroic performance which earned them the semi-final, to be played against Poland in Ljubljana this Thursday.

City of Women celebrating 25 years and telling #HerStory

LJUBLJANA - The 25th City of Women, an international festival of contemporary arts, will kick off in Ljubljana on 1 October. However a series of events will take place as a prelude to the festival's opening, the first of them being an exhibition Cheers to Women - 25 Years of Film and Video, which has just opened at Alkatraz Gallery in the Metelkova Mesto alternative arts centre. The feminist festival, running until 13 October, will be held under the slogan #HerStory, a pun referring to female, often forgotten or erased, history as well as female stories.

Sonica brings to Ljubljana some of the finest sound artists

LJUBLJANA - The 11th Sonica, a festival of contemporary electronic music and transitory art, will explore avant-garde sounds and audiovisual art as it brings some of the world's finest sound artists, an exhibition, film screenings, a sound walk and discussions to various venues in Ljubljana until Saturday. Held under the slogan Sentinels, Sonica will open with the Antiphonic Incidence exhibition at the Metelkova Museum of Contemporary Art (MSUM) tonight.

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24 Sep 2019, 01:41 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:

US victim of Trump's unpredictable foreign policy, ex-president says

NEW YORK, US - Slovenia's former President Danilo Türk, who is in New York for several events before the UN General Assembly session, says US foreign policy is being undermined due to President Donald Trump's unpredictable and poorly thought through decisions. In an interview for the STA, he said "Trump does not seek advice, has no systematic approach, does not think about the consequences, and the US foreign policy is in a serious crisis". He also hopes the tensions between the US and Iran do not result in a new armed conflict in the Middle East.

Interior minister expects spike in illegal border crossings before winter

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar expects Slovenia to see a rise in the number of people crossing the border illegally before the winter, but not to the extent seen in 2015 and 2016, he said during questions time in parliament. So far this year, nearly 11,300 people have been found crossing the border illegally. Most of those crossing into Slovenia are citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria and Morocco, and most of them are returned back to Croatia, the minister said. The Slovenian Armed Forces meanwhile said they had stepped up their activities, sending two infantry companies to the border. They did not specify the number of troops deployed.

Voter approval rating for govt falls below 50% in POP TV poll

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, his party and the government all saw their popularity ratings fall in the latest poll commissioned by the private broadcaster POP TV, with voter support for the government falling below 50% for the first time this year. The voter approval rating for the government fell by 1.9 percentage points to 49.7%, as the proportion of those who disapprove of its job rose by 0.8 points from August to 33.7% with 16.6% undecided. The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) continues to lead among the parties, but with a lower margin, having lost 2.7 points to 16.1%. The opposition Democrats (SDS) placed second with 14.9%.

Diplomat Kirn says Slovenia playing Russia game poorly

LJUBLJANA - Roman Kirn, a seasoned diplomat who has until recently served as the foreign policy adviser to PM Marjan Šarec, was critical in an interview for Reporter of Šarec's recent visit to Russia, in particular because it had not included a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Kirn, who stepped down as a state secretary in Šarec's office in March, argued for the weekly paper that the 10-11 September visit to Moscow had been "poorly prepared", since "all protocol and content features of such a visit should have been envisaged with care".

Postal operator to pay EUR 28.8m for Intereuropa

KOPER - Pošta Slovenije, the state-owned postal operator, plans to acquire a 72% of the logistics company Intereuropa at EUR 1.45 per share. It is to purchase 9,168,425 regular and 10,675,965 priority shares, which totals EUR 28.75 million, Intereuropa said on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange. This is in line with the contract Pošta Slovenije made with a consortium of sellers, comprising SID Banka, NLB, NKBM, Gorenjska Banka, SKB Banka and Banka Intesa Sanpaolo, on 10 May. The takeover was approved by the competition watchdog at the beginning of September.

New property sales prices lowest on record, used highest since 2017

LJUBLJANA - Sales of new housing properties have dropped to the lowest level on record in the second quarter of 2019, according to data released by the Statistics Office. Meanwhile, more than 1,360 second-hand houses were sold this second quarter, the most since the second quarter of 2017. In total, sales reached highest value since 2017. New flats are on the other side of the spectrum, as only 42 were sold, the least since new real estate sales have been recorded. But faring even worse were new houses, with only 18 being sold in the second quarter.

Ptuj comes forward to host waste incineration plant

PTUJ - The Ptuj municipality in the north-east has emerged as a possible location for Slovenia's first waste incineration plant after the local council endorsed a proposal to launch a debate on the issue. Slovenia does not have a purpose-built waste incineration plant, but in recent years debates about the need for such a facility have intensified due to chronic problems with waste, particularly waste packaging. While it has not yet been decided whether such a plant should in fact be built, the Environment Ministry has recently asked local communities whether they would be open to being the site of a waste incineration facility.

Electronic warfare exercise under way in Slovenia

POSTOJNA - An international military exercise in electronic warfare, dubbed Ramstein Guard 2019, got under way in Slovenia today. Lasting until Friday, the exercise will feature units and commands that are part of NATO's Air Command and Control System, the Slovenian Armed Forces said. The activities will focus on operations involving electronic interference, meaning training units to recognise electronic interference, reduce its impact and operate effectively despite interferences in operation of radars, means of communication and systems of command and control.

Slovenian minority writer to get Austrian literary award

VIENNA, Austria - Klagenfurt-based Slovenian-Austrian author Maja Haderlap is to receive an Austrian Art Prize which comes with EUR 15,000. Apart from Haderlap, who has won the prize in the literature category, Austria will also bestow a cultural initiative prize on the Rož Slovenian cultural association from the Austrian region of Carinthia, established in 1902. The awards ceremony will take place at the Federal Chancellery in Vienna on 25 November. Austrian Art Prize recipients are selected by a judging panel of experts and awarded by the Austrian culture minister.

German settlers' culture celebrated in Kočevje

KOČEVJE - A festival honouring culture and heritage of Kočevarji (Gottscheers), German settlers who first settled in the Kočevje region in southern Slovenia in the 14th century, opened this evening with President Borut Pahor delivering an opening address. The 5th Days of Gottschee Culture are hosted by three municipalities, Kočevje, Semič and Dolenjske Toplice, under Pahor's auspices. The festival strives to protect the vanishing culture of Kočevarji and highlight the issues of ethnic groups.

Maribor to get wine-growing museum next year

MARIBOR - Maribor has recently started setting up a museum dedicated to the city's rich wine-growing and wine-making heritage. Works are expected to be finished next year, with the investment estimated at more than EUR 350,000. "The museum will host presentations of various wine-growing areas in Slovenia, and feature a shop and wine tasting of selected wines," Maribor city representatives told the STA. The museum will be housed in a former cold room storage facility from the 17th century, with the transformation being part of a wider city re-development plan.

Visiting Ljubljana? Check out what's on this week, while all our stories on Slovenia, from newest to oldest, are here

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23 Sep 2019, 01:26 AM

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

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PM Šarec goes to New York for UN session, plenty of meetings

NEW YORK, US - PM Marjan Šarec will start a five-day visit to New York on Monday to address the general debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly on Friday. In his address to world leaders, he will highlight Slovenia's four priorities in addressing global issues, the rule of law, human rights, global peace and security, and sustainable development. He will also attend the Climate Action Summit on Monday and meet Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday. Šarec will be accompanied by several ministers, including Foreign Minister Miro Cerar.

Banks will have to adjust to changed environment, Vasle says

LJUBLJANA - Banks will have to adapt to changes in the business environment, Slovenian central bank Governor Boštjan Vasle said as he commented on a recent set of measures taken by the ECB to revive inflation. "Inflation has been relatively low and far away from the ECB's medium-term goal for several months now, a situation when risks and uncertainties are considerable." Despite some negative effects the measures have for the financial sector, their overall impact has been much more positive than negative, the governor told Radio Slovenija. Without the ECB measures, inflation would have been even lower and the economic cooling even stronger, he said.

Upon centenary, SNG Maribor honoured with Golden Order of Merit

MARIBOR - The SNG Maribor was honoured with the Golden Order of Merit for its outstanding contribution to performing arts and Slovenian cultural identity as the theatre, bringing together drama, opera and ballet, marked its centenary at a high-profile ceremony on Saturday evening. Its director Danilo Rošker, who received the state decoration from the hands of President Borut Pahor, thanked all those who had contributed to the establishment, development and reputation of the theatre. It was 27 September 1919 when the first play in Slovenian, Josip Jurčič's tragedy Tugomer, was staged at SNG Maribor's predecessor.

Slovenia in quarter-finals of European Volleyball Championship

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian men's national volleyball team made it to the quarter-finals of the European Championship after defeating Bulgaria 3:1 on Saturday evening, earning another encounter with the defending champions Russia on Monday. Not everything went as planned as Slovenia started the elimination round of 16 at home in front of more than 8,000 fans in Stožice Arena, as the Bulgarians won the first set in a come-from-behind fashion. Captain Tine Urnaut, however, said the team was aware it would take more to beat Russia than it had to outperform Bulgaria.

Germans dominate second Slovenian Half Ironman

KOPER - Germany's Maurice Herwig won the second Half Ironman event in Slovenia, clocking in 4 hours 15 minutes and 6 seconds to complete a 1.9-km swim, a 90-km bicycle ride and a 21.1-km run, and improving last year's result from this triathlon race by a few minutes. The second place at the 2019 Ironman 70.3 Slovenian Istria went to Slovenia's Jure Majdič with the time of 4:17:37, the best Slovenian result for this race. Germany's Lasse Ibert was third with 4:20:07. The race's director general, Milan Eržen, labelled the event a success. "We've managed to increase the number of participants [from last year], and the race has attracted many spectators."

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22 Sep 2019, 01:46 AM

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Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek becomes new SMC leader

LJUBLJANA - Modern Centre Party (SMC) members elected unanimously Zdravko Počivalšek new leader at a congress in Ljubljana on Saturday. Počivalšek, the economy minister, taking over from Miro Cerar, the SMC founder who currently serves as foreign minister, called for economic stability, a fair welfare state, liberal approach and sustainability. He believes the SMC is about to transform itself and regain voters' trust.

Emergency law thinning out bear population, only two wolves culled so far

LJUBLJANA - A total of 120 bears and a couple of wolves have been culled so far under the emergency law which came into effect at the end of June, the Slovenian Forest Service has told the STA. Hunting officials have also been granted a decree for emergency wolf culling in the Julian Alps.

Fired Magna workers plan to sue company

LJUBLJANA - Five out of six workers who have been recently laid off at the Magna paint shop in Hoče plan to take the company to court, having met with the KKS trade union confederation on Saturday morning, Radio Slovenija reports. The laid-off workers as well as KSS representatives are certain that the layoffs were unlawful.

Over EUR 50m in payments at Maribor uni problematic, report says

MARIBOR - Some EUR 50 million in payments to University of Maribor professors through freelance contracts is contentious, an issue auditor Ernst & Young highlighted back in March 2017, according to last evening's report by TV Slovenija.

ICT sector continues to grow, albeit at slower pace

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's information and communications technology (ICT) sector generated EUR 4.4 billion in revenue last year, 3.9% more than in 2017. Growth was slower than the year before, when revenue increased by 6.4% year on year, according to data released by the Statistics Office.

Frutarom Etol ends 2018 with higher revenue, lower profit

CELJE - Slovenian flavourings manufacturer Frutarom Etol finished 2018 with EUR 11.5 million in net profit, down 5.4% over 2017, on sales revenue of EUR 82.4 million, up 3.6%. The Celje-based group, which employs around 330 workers, generated over 60% of its revenue in European and CEFTA markets, followed by SE Europe (18.5%).

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21 Sep 2019, 01:41 AM

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Iztok Purič stepping down as development and cohesion minister

LJUBLJANA - Iztok Purič is stepping down as the head of the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) announced, adding "the minister has decided to step down for personal reasons". In his letter of resignation, handed to PM Marjan Šarec today, Purič noted that during his stint, the Office had managed to fix the flawed IT system, which threatened to bring Slovenia's drawing of EU funds to a standstill. Purič was appointed in mid-December to replace his fellow party colleague Marko Bandelli, who had to leave due to a delay in producing a report on EU funds phasing and due to meddling in the local elections only after two months on the job. Šarec's office said the prime minister had been acquainted with Purič's intention to step down, while Purič rejected the rumours he had resigned due to disagreements within the SAB.

Civil Aviation Agency grounds two Adria Airways planes

LJUBLJANA - The Civil Aviation Agency has grounded two Adria Airways Bombardier CRJ900 planes, after lessors terminated lease contracts for the two planes due to payment default. Adria has already cancelled or rescheduked several flights scheduled for today. Adria said the agency issued an oral ban for the two planes that Adria leased from Trident Aviation Leasing Service on Thursday afternoon. A written decree is to be issued within the next five days. The agency is still deciding on Adria's operating licence in a separate, but related procedure. The state, which sold Adria in 2016, will be obliged to provide Slovenia's air connectivity with the world in case Adria's operating license is revoked. The Infrastructure Ministry has thus already prepared a proposal which would enable co-funding of certain routes.

DARS shortlists three Karavanke tunnel bidders for talks

LJUBLJANA - The national motorway company DARS has selected for further talks three out of the five bidders vying to build a second tube of the Karavanke tunnel, a key motorway link with Austria, media reported. DARS refused to make any comments until all of the bidders had been informed about the decision, which could still be challenged within eight days. TV Slovenija said that DARS had shortlisted Turkish builder Cengiz, a consortium of Kolektor CGP, Riko and Turkey's Yapi Merkezi, and Implenia Österreich, a consortium including Implenia Švica and CGP Novo Mesto.

Magna lays off half a dozen workers shortly after launch

HOČE - The Magna paint shop in Hoče, which was launched earlier this year, laid off six workers this week, Večer reported. The multinational car maker said it also hired six new people and that the number of its employees would remain unchanged. It added it was not planning any reduction in the number of regular employees, or extent of production in 2019. The six workers were laid off for business reasons, the paper reported. They were told the company was facing a decrease in orders and harsh conditions on the automotive market. Thus, the company launched a project aiming to cut expenses substantially.

Government endorses euro for culture bill, minister happy

LJUBLJANA - Culture Minister Zoran Poznič welcomed the government's decision to endorse a "culture euro" bill which envisages additional funds for culture to promote its development through investment. The price tag of the new bill, endorsed on Thursday, for the 2021-2027 period is EUR 122.6 million. Poznič said today that new investment schemes would ensure a balanced cultural development. The bill is expected to be passed at the start of 2020 and to come fully into force in 2021, said the minister, adding the Culture Ministry had enough funds for next year to set up the necessary network for its implementation.

MPs to discuss bill on recourse over bank bail-in on Tuesday

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly will start its September session on Monday with questions time for the ministers and government Secretary General Stojan Tramte, while PM Marjan Šarec will take questions on Tuesday, when a bill on recourse over the 2013 bank bail-in is on the agenda. MPs will have almost five hours to discuss the government-sponsored bill designed to provide legal recourse for the holders of subordinated bank liabilities who were wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout.

Border municipalities urge govt to help in face of illegal migration

METLIKA/KOSTEL - Thirteen municipalities along the southern border with Croatia joined forces in urging the government to start renewing local roads that have been damaged from heavy use by the police patrolling the border and to start cleaning the border fence. Metlika Mayor Darko Zevnik told the STA that the initiative had also been addressed to PM Marjan Šarec. He said the move brought together the municipalities that had been affected by the influx in illegal crossings of the border. Responding to the call, the prime minister's office said Šarec would meet the mayors as soon as a date that suited all of them was identified.

Consumer confidence sinks to late-2016 level

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer confidence deteriorated for the second month running in September to a level last seen in late 2016. Nevertheless, the index remains eight percentage points above the long-term average. Releasing the latest data, the Statistics Office noted that Slovenia's consumer confidence had been at record levels in 2017 and 2018. The value of the consumer confidence index was four percentage points below the August value and two points below the level a year ago. Year on year, only the job outlook deteriorated, by as many as 13 points.

150 years of trade unionism in Slovenia celebrated

BLED - The Pergam confederation of trade unions marked the 150th anniversary since the formation of Slovenia's first trade union at a general assembly in Bled that saw Prime Minister Marjan Šarec discuss the significance of social dialogue. "Although employees, employers and the government on the Economic and Social Council have differing views at times, we must never let the lack of dialogue lead to an end to social dialogue," Šarec said in his address. Pergam head Jakob Počivavšek said the union stuck by the values and tradition of its precursor, the Educational Association for Printers, set up in Ljubljana in 1868 as the first worker organisation in Slovenia.

Nigerians arrested for smuggling 31 illegal migrants

KOČEVJE - The Kočevje police arrested two Nigerians on Thursday evening after pulling them over and finding 31 illegal migrants in the back of their van. The vehicle, bearing Italian licence plates, was pulled over in the village of Morava, a few kilometres from the border with Croatia. The illegal migrants in the back were citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar and are currently being processed by the authorities, the Ljubljana Police Department said.

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20 Sep 2019, 01:23 AM

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Lenarčič hearing at EU parliament scheduled for 2 October

STRASBOURG, France - Slovenia's Janez Lenarčič, the European commissioner-designate for crisis management, will have his hearing before the European Parliament's Development Committee on 2 October, according to a decision taken by the Parliament president and faction leaders. The hearing will be joined by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, with members of both committees having the right to vote on his bid. The Parliament is then expected to vote on Ursula von der Leyen's European Commission as a whole on 23 October.

Govt confirms slightly reduced budget for next year

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted the draft budgets for 2020 and 2021 after ministries reduced the planned expenditure for next year by a combined EUR 100 million following a downgrade of Slovenia's GDP growth forecast to 2.8% for 2019 and 3% for 2020. Budget users will still have a record EUR 10.35 billion at their disposal in 2020, and almost all of them will get more money than this year. The government said that despite its raising expenditure, the budgets were still in line with the golden fiscal rule.

Report: NLB with highest non-binding bid for Serbian No. 2 bank

BELGRADE, Serbia - NLB, Slovenia's leading bank, has submitted a non-binding bid for a 83.2% stake in Komercijalna Banka, the second largest bank in Serbia, offering EUR 450 million, which is according to unofficial information obtained by Serbian newspaper Danas the highest bid among the three competitors. The other bidders are Serbia's AIK Banka (EUR 430 million) and Austria's Raiffeisen Bank (EUR 390 million). The sale is to enter the next stage in November and conclude in 2020.

President Pahor enhancing ties with Switzerland

BERN, Switzerland - President Borut Pahor met his Swiss counterpart Ueli Maurer in Bern with the pair calling for deepening what was said to be already good cooperation between the two countries. "The Swiss and Slovenians are similar and we want to cooperate," Pahor said as he and Maurer addressed the press. Maurer offered digitalisation and new technologies as two areas where cooperation could be enhanced. Pahor meanwhile hailed Slovenia's good experience with Swiss investors, as he completed his official two-day visit to Switzerland. On Wednesday, he met parliamentary Speaker Marina Carobbio Guscetti to discuss Brexit, the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans, and illegal migration.

Govt berated for poor strategic planning of nuclear energy

LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit issued a rebuke of consecutive Slovenian governments after determining that strategic planning regarding the exploitation of nuclear energy at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) had left the NEK owner in limbo about whether a second reactor at NEK would be built or not. The auditors had examined government strategic planning from 2006 to 2016, determining that strategic documents had been ignored on several occasions and new ones drawn up in disregard of previous commitments or deadlines. Despite the shortcomings, the court only issued a set of recommendations to several stakeholders.

Kangler inquiry on hold pending court decision

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Privileges and Credentials Commission decided that a parliamentary inquiry into prosecutions of former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler will not be initiated until after the Constitutional Court weighed in on the matter. The move comes after the opposition's motion to examine several former and ongoing criminal procedures against Kangler encountered strong pushback from the judicial authorities. Most notably, the Supreme State Prosecution had asked the top court to examine whether the inquiry may be in breach of the constitutional provision of division of power.

Slovenia's yellow vests taking to streets in October

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian right-wing parties and a number of civil initiatives will stage a protest in Ljubljana on 10 October under the slogan Let's Save Slovenia. The demonstration, at which protesters will wear yellow vests will be held at the initiative of former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler in cooperation with the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS). Social media comments suggest the protest will also be joined by the opposition Democrats (SDS) and the non-parliamentary party Greens.

Ljubljana mosque gets operating permit

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana mosque got an operating permit, the Islamic Community's secretary general Nevzet Porić told the news web portal 24ur.com. It is expected to open for prayers after the New Year. According to Porić, all work on the interior should be completed by the end of the year and all furnishings should be purchased by the end of February. The official inauguration ceremony is planned at the end of May 2020, after the end of the fasting month, said Mufti Nedžad Grabus.

Slovenian basketball team invited to Olympic qualifiers

MUNICH, Germany - The Slovenian men's national basketball team received a special invitation to play in one of the four qualifying tournaments for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which will be played next June. The invitation is a consolation of sorts for the reigning European champions missing the recent FIFA World Cup in China, at which they would have had a chance to qualify for Tokyo as one of the top two European teams. The other team from Europe receiving the wild card invitation is Croatia.

Owners pulling from Pastika Skaza management

LJUBLJANA - After more than four decades in business, Plastika Skaza, a fast-growing family company specialising in plastic products, is undergoing a change in leadership; owners Tanja and Igor Skaza are withdrawing and executive directors Robert Agnič and Bart Stegeman taking over. Spouses Tanja and Igor will act as supervisors, as they hold 98% of the company, while Stegeman and Agnič hold 1% each.

Survey: Almost 90% of school children encounter violence

ZREČE - A survey carried out among 4,500 primary school students aged roughly 12 to 15 from 70 Slovenian schools shows that 89% of school children encounter verbal, physical or relational violence. As psychologist Mateja Štirn said at a congress of Slovenian psychologists, the results pointed to the need for more preventive programmes that should start as early in the educational process as possible. The survey is part of a programme aimed at preventing peer violence and sexual violence.

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19 Sep 2019, 01:49 AM

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Almost 200 organisations join appeal for climate action

LJUBLJANA - A great number of organisations, including environmental NGOs to associations representing pensioners and healthcare workers, as well as trade union, made an urgent appeal to the government to recognise climate change as a national crisis and start dealing with it in a comprehensive fashion now. The joint appeal has so far been signed by 179 organisations and more than 8,000 individuals, including the Slovenian Beekepers' Association, Pensioners' Association (ZDUS), Friends of the Youth Association (ZPMS), Municipalities' Association and Youth for Climate Justice.

FM: 55 persons asked for repatriation from Venezuela; worried about Middle East escalation

LJUBLJANA - Answering questions from MPs during a session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said the government will do all in its power to bring from Venezuela the 55 persons of Slovenian descent who have asked for repatriation as soon as possible. Moreover, he expressed concern about the escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the aftermath of drone attacks on two major Saudi oil facilities. Given that the situation is complex and dangerous, it should be resolved in dialogue to avoid unilateral moves, Cerar summarized Slovenia's stance.

New exec appointed at Slovenian Sovereign Holding

LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) has appointed Boris Medica, a former pharma and insurance exec, to the management board position that will be vacated by Andrej Božič in December. Medica, who holds an MBA, worked as manager at Johnson&Johnson for 19 years, most recently as director for Central and Eastern Europe, before joining the insurance group Sava Re in 2015.

European Defence Agency head praises Slovenia's contribution

LJUBLJANA - Jorge Domecq, chief executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA), praised Slovenia's cooperation with the EDA as he paid a visit. However, he called for increased participation of Slovenian industry in EDA programmes. Domecq and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec discussed key European initiatives in defence and security today, according to the Foreign Ministry. Defence Ministry top officials presented Slovenia's views on all segments of defence cooperation within the EU.

Coalition SAB proposes referendum on primary education funding

LJUBLJANA - In a bid to end a conundrum about the financing of private primary schools, the coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) announced it would start collecting signatures to call a referendum as the issue remains unresolved almost five years after the top court decided the state must fund them 100%, not just 85% as is the case now. The party would like to ask voters whether they agree that it should be written down in the Constitution that the state is obliged to finance only public schools. The SAB will start collecting the signatures for the referendum, which has to be called by parliament, at the end of the month, despite the fact that most of the coalition and opposition parties were rather critical of the move today.

Court of Audit asked to examine all tenders in mega rail project

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary commission in charge of keeping an eye on public finances asked the Court of Audit to examine all public tenders issued by 2TDK, the state-owned company managing the construction of the EUR 1bn-plus rail link between Divača and Koper. The resolution was put to the Commission for the Oversight of Public Finances by the opposition Democrats (SDS), who argued that the government has failed to do anything to prevent contractors from hiking up their prices. MPs also asked the auditors to review a zoning decree for a section of road on the upcoming third development axis, a project that is supposed to be launched soon and which will cost significantly more than the Divača-Koper rail track.

Police looking into Janković-linked debt write-off

LJUBLJANA - Police are looking into three cases of simplified debt restructuring that would allow companies owned by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković's sons to write off about EUR 29 million in debt, the General Police Administration confirmed for the STA. Web portal Siol.net meanwhile reported that the Notary Chamber is checking the work of notary Miro Košak in the cases of debt restructuring of Electa Inženiring, Electa Naložbe and Electa Holding.

Low prices, limited programmes pushing UKC Ljubljana into the red

LJUBLJANA - UKC Ljubljana, the country's leading hospital, incurs an annual loss of seven to eight million euro because their services and programmes are underrated, consequently receiving less funds then necessary, its director general Janez Poklukar told the press. To improve the situation, UKC Ljubljana has asked the ZZZS public health fund to expand some of its programmes and raise prices, but is still waiting for reply. The hospital makes a loss of up to EUR 5,000 per procedure for which it has no adequate funding, or even up to EUR 50,000 per patient for external mechanical circulatory assistance and mechanical ventilation assistance, the director explained.

Anti-graft body looking into Črnčec's link with Westinghouse

LJUBLJANA - The indirect connection between Damir Črnčec, a state secretary in the prime minister's office, and Westinghouse as the largest supplier to the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK), is being looked at by the anti-corruption watchdog due to potential conflict of interest, the commercial broadcaster POP TV reported on Tuesday. The report comes after the news portal Požareport noted recently that Črnčec, the prime minister's advisor for national security, had employed the head of the Slovenian office of Westinghouse as director of his private institute.

Amber Rail Freight Corridor officially launched in Koper

KOPER - The Amber Rail Freight Corridor, which connects industrial centres and inter-modal terminals in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia, was formally launched in a ceremony. It has been operational since January as the first rail freight corridor established on the initiative of member states. The corridor connects the Adriatic Sea - with Koper being the only maritime port within the corridor - with the Poland-Belarus border, and its position represents an alternative to the transport routes between the north and south of Europe.

New slasher by Slovenian horror king in cinemas

LJUBLJANA - Tomaž Gorkič, the director of Slovenia's first feature-length horror film, the 2015 slasher Idyll, has returned to the genre that brought him acclaim. His latest film, which he describes as a "politically incorrect mix of horror and black comedy" will be on show at Kino Šiška tonight before it premieres in cinemas on Thursday. Prekletstvo Valburge (Curse of the Valburga) has the brothers Bojan and Marjan hoping to make some easy money from hordes of tourists in their home town by organising a tour of an abandoned local castle that is closed to the public.

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18 Sep 2019, 01:20 AM

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Court of Audit points to faults in social security system

LJUBLJANA - A report by the Court of Audit found that the government has been unsuccessful in providing access to social security services to all those who need them. The state has failed to guarantee equal treatment to all and has not come up with solutions in long-term care. Only 9% of the 395,127 claimants received aid in the form of various social security services in 2016. The state had no data on nearly 90% of claimants and does not know how many persons eligible for aid were left without it in the 2007-2018 period. Court of Audit president Tomaž Vesel said that most people in homes had no money left after paying for the service, but even so the system is at the verge of collapse.

Slovenian, Cypriot speakers announce joint small countries initiative

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan hosted his Cypriot counterpart Demetris Syllouris, with the pair announcing a bilateral initiative for cooperation of small countries. The initiative will aim to support the rule of law in the EU and "the end of dual morals" in Europe, according to Syllouris. "Small countries are more interested in finding friends, nurturing friendships and share information" because this is the only way to gain allies, Židan said in a joint statement. He said the talks discussed the position of small countries in the EU, with both Slovenia and Cyprus demanding equal treatment and the rule of law as the basic principle of the EU.

Lenarčič hearing at European Parliament likely on 2 October

STRASBOURG, France - Janez Lenarčič, the EU commissioner-designate for crisis management, will have his confirmation hearing before the European Parliament's Development Committee, the STA has learned from unofficial sources. The date of the hearing has not been confirmed yet but is likely to be 2 October. The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee is expected to join the hearing and members of both committees would have the right to vote. There is not a single Slovenian MEP on the Development Committee, while Ljudmila Novak (NSi/EPP) is a member of the Environment Committee.

Govt sets municipality funding for 2021 and 2020

LJUBLJANA - The government and representatives of local communities have failed to agree on the amount of local government funding for the coming two years, so the government plans to enforce the initially proposed amount of EUR 589.11 per capita in 2020 and EUR 588.30 in 2021. The news was announced by Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj after the talks with representatives of municipality associations, who have been seeking more money, failed to produce an agreement. The Finance Ministry calculated the per-capita amount by following the currently valid methodology, that is on the basis of the average of local government expenses over the past four years.

Social partners fail to agree on tax changes

LJUBLJANA - A meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ESS) did not result in agreement on planned tax changes, putting into question the government's plan to send the changes to parliament on Thursday, and possibly even throwing a wrench in the 2020 and 2021 budgets. In order for these changes to take effect on 1 January 2020, the government would need to submit them to parliament this week. Instead, Bertoncelj is now proposing a new round of talks, which, however, seem unlikely to take place, according to Branko Meh, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).

Adria Airways signs collective agreement with pilots

LJUBLJANA - Adria Airways signed a new collective bargaining agreement with pilots, a move the airline says that "calms down the labour situation at the company". The new agreement "allows management to remain focused on stability of operations and provision of services," the company said after signing the agreement. The deal was signed a little over a week after a tentative deal was reached with pilots, helping the airline to avert a series of multi-day strikes that the pilots had announced for September and early October. During that time the Trade Union of Pilots put the deal to a vote, which appears to have been successful.

Janković-linked debt write-off to be challenged at higher court

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana District Court is challenging a decision by its own judge to endorse simplified debt restructuring that would allow companies owned by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković's sons to get written off EUR 29 million in debt amid a major public controversy, the news web portal Siol reported. The report says that the court appealed against the decision on Friday, a day before the decision would have become final, in its capacity as a claimant over unpaid court tax. Simplified debt restructuring was introduced in 2013 as a means of speeding up lengthy insolvency procedures. A decision was made to amend the relevant law after a debate in parliament last week.

ZZZS worried about 2020 despite higher spending cap

LJUBLJANA - The ZZZS public health insurance fund does not expect smooth sailing next year despite an increase in its spending limit, the ZZZS management board said after going over projections for 2019-2021, identifying a government-imposed delay in payments as the problem. In 2020, the ZZZS's revenue will go up by EUR 225 million over this year, while expenditure is to increase by EUR 266 million. Director general Marjan Sušelj said a third of the additional funds, or EUR 90 million, will be used to pay for the services that will have remained unpaid at the end of the year due to this year's spending cap.

Illegal migrations peak at over 2,000 crossings in August

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia keeps seeing a surge in illegal migration with the latest police data showing that the number of illegal crossings peaked at 2,352 in August, the highest monthly figure since the 2015-16 refugee crisis. In the first eight months of the year, police registered 9,801 instances of people trying to cross illegally into the country, which compares to 5,899 in the whole last year. In most of the cases the migrants were citizens of Pakistan (2,344), followed by Algerians (1,427) and Afghanis (1,064). The migrants filed 2,577 petitions for asylum between January and the end of August this year, almost 500 more than in the whole of 2018.

High-performing hydro station opens on Kneža

PODBRDO - A high-performing small hydro station was inaugurated on the Kneža river in western Slovenia. The EUR 2.3 million installation run by power utility Soške Elektrarne is expected to produce as much 3.3 GWh of renewable energy a year, more than many larger hydro stations produce. The high performance was achieved thanks to a 2,300-metre underground pipeline, which runs along a local road and allows the station to harness the energy of 74-metre drop. The engine room features a generator with installed power of 850 KWh, and a horizontal-axis turbine.

Jews remembered with Stolpersteine in Lendava, Murska Sobota

LENDAVA/MURSKA SOBOTA - Lendava and Murska Sobota remembered local Jewish families that perished in the Holocaust, as Stolpersteine, granite cubes bearing the names of the victims, are installed in various locations around the two north-eastern cities in high-profile commemorations. In Lendava, the "stumbling stones" will be installed in Glavna Ulica street in front of the former homes of the families Blau, Balkanyi and Schwarz. The ceremony in Murska Sobota remembered the families Berger, Hahn and Frim apart from many other Jewish victims of the Holocaust from the region of Prekmurje.

Maribor hosts exhibition on Poland during and after WWII

MARIBOR - The Museum of National Liberation in Maribor launched a pop-up exhibition on Poland and its citizens during and after WWII, marking the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland and the start of the war. Fighting and Suffering: Polish Citizens during World War II was curated by the Museum of the Second World War from Gdansk in collaboration with the Polish Foreign Ministry, and will be opened by Polish Ambassador Pawel Czerwinski. It presents Nazi Germany's attack on Poland, developments during the war and the country's post-war history.

Socially critical features in focus of annual film festival

PORTOROŽ - The 22nd Festival of Slovenian Film opened with Metod Pevec's latest feature Jaz Sem Frenk (None), which brings a confrontation of socialist and capitalist values. The festival will feature a total of 106 films, of which more than half in the competition section. Eleven new features, of which four are documentaries, are among the 57 films competing for over 20 Vesna awards. The festival brings a shift from social drama to political thriller, which however remains socially charged, its director Jelka Stergel said as she presented the event.

Something for everyone at Slovenian Jazz Festival

RAVNE NA KOROŠKEM - Slovenian jazz musicians, both internationally-acclaimed acts and up-and-coming talents, will be showcased at the 15th annual festival in Ravne na Koroškem in the north of the country this week. Along with the pre-festival events, the Slovenian Jazz Festival is featuring 23 events at nine venues, including 12 concerts, three exhibitions, two film screenings and two days of workshops. The festival starts in tonight with the launch of an exhibition of jazz-themed photographs by Iztok Zupan, followed by a concert by percussionist Gal Furlan.

Slovenia's 2017 EuroBasket win to be enshrined on film

LJUBLJANA - The historic success of Slovenia's basketball team from 2017 when it was crowned European basketball champions will be made into a documentary slated for release in 2020. The feature-length film will be directed by award-winning director, writer and basketball fan Goran Vojnović, the Slovenian Basketball Association announced. In addition to interviews with players, extensive archive material will be used, including videos made by fans, whom the association invited to share them so that Vojnović could pick some of them for the documentary.

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17 Sep 2019, 02:07 AM

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Pahor, Kovind call for cooperation and multilateralism

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind reaffirmed their commitment to boost cooperation and friendship between the countries during the first visit by an Indian president to Slovenia. They stressed the importance of global partnership and multilateralism. Pahor, who accepted the invitation to visit India, said the country could serve as an example for its rule of law and human rights record. Together with Pahor, Kovind addressed a business forum at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which identified logistics, infrastructure, automotive industry and tourism as the areas with a great potential for boosting trade. He also met PM Marjan Šarec.

Cross-party consensus sought on private schools financing

LJUBLJANA - After several failed attempts to implement the late-2014 Constitutional Court ruling mandating full financing of private primary schools, the Education Ministry will now try to break the impasse by inviting various stakeholders to form a task force to build a broad consensus on the issue. Minister Jernej Pikalo said an invitation to participate would be sent to various stakeholders, experts and representatives of private and public education, and to all parliamentary parties.

Pahor inclined to coordinating debate on digitalisation

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor responded to the initiative by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) to act as a coordinator on the path to a new national consensus on digitalising Slovenia. His office said Pahor was willing to host a meeting on the topic with representatives of the government, parliament and parties. Pahor, whom the NSi urged to act as an "ambassador" in the digitalisation process, also agrees with the assessment that a political impetus would be helpful for Slovenia's digitalisation.

PM's aide under media scrutiny over alleged links with Westinghouse

LJUBLJANA - A decision by a state secretary in the prime minister's office to employ the head of Slovenia's Westinghouse office as head of his private institute has come under media scrutiny; news portal Požareport indicated Damir Črnčec might thus influence PM Marjan Šarec into picking Westinghouse to supply equipment for a possible second reactor at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK). The portal said Črnčec, Šarec's national security advisor, appointed Zvonka Truden to head the Institute for Global Management in January, only a few months before Šarec visited NEK to endorse a second reactor plan. In response to the story, the prime minister's office said Črnčec had fulfilled all his obligations related to integrity and prevention of corruption.

Štajerska Guard undeterred by leader's conviction

LJUBLJANA - The Štajerska Guard does not appear to have been deterred from its training activities even though its leader Andrej Šiško was sentenced to prison in March for trying to subvert the constitutional order. Several media reported about training camps organised by the paramilitary group this summer, and the Croatian broadcaster RTL recently aired a reportage from one of them. Šiško insists the Štajerska Guard is only a civil initiative, while the police say they are keeping a close eye on them.

Extreme skier, mountaineer Karničar dies

ZGORNJE JEZERSKO - Mountaineer and extreme skier Davo Karničar, 56, died in an accident while cutting down a tree in the area of Jezersko in the region of Gorenjska, where he lived, public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported. Karničar made history on several occasions while skiing down the world's highest peaks; in 2000, he skied non-stop down Mount Everest as the first person ever, in 1995 he and his brother skied down Annapurna, and in 2006, he became the first person to ski down the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, a project known as the 7 Summits.

European Mobility Week under way

LJUBLJANA - The European Mobility Week got under way under the slogan Walk with Us!, focusing on walking as an alternative to motor road transport as well as a form of physical exercise, the lack of which has become a problem in modern society due to excessive use of cars. In Slovenia 78 municipalities are participating with events aimed at reducing road traffic, including group walks. The week will culminate with Car-Free Days in several municipalities.

Helios sales revenue up last year

DOMŽALE - Coatings group Helios generated EUR 401.5 million in sales revenue last year, up 3% from 2017. Net profit topped EUR 16 million despite a challenging market situation. Some of its markets in the EU and the region of the former Soviet Union were affected by international trade sanctions and currency devaluation. "In the future we expect economic growth to continue slowing down, and a drop in sales growth, especially in the segment of industrial coatings," Helios said.

GMT group's revenue to top EUR 100m this year

MURSKA SOBOTA - The Murska Sobota-based company GMT has been reaffirming its leading role in lubricants and spare car parts dealership in the region, recording an average annual growth of 10%. The group has recently taken over the Ljubljana-based company I.S.T. Avtodeli after acquiring Austria's AR Regnemer last year, and now employs 450 people. The group is planning to expand its logistic centre in Murska Sobota, and expects to post more than EUR 100 million in revenue this year.

Salaries in Slovenia up in July

LJUBLJANA - Monthly earnings paid out in Slovenia in July increased. At EUR 1,119, average take home pay rose by 1% over the month before and by 4.4% year-on-year in nominal terms, data from the Statistics Office shows. In real terms net monthly earnings increased by 1.7% from June and by 2.4% from a year ago. In the private sector net pay was 1.7% up from June, while public sector pay dropped by 0.2%. Year on year, pay was up 4.4% in the private sector and 4.7% in the public one.

Web Eye portal records rise in online sexual abuse, hate speech

LJUBLJANA - The online complaint website Spletno Oko (Web Eye) recorded a strong annual rise in reported cases of hate speech and videos showing sexual abuse of children in 2018. A total of 350 websites were reported for allegedly featuring videos of sexual abuse, of which Spletno Oko found 45% to feature such images. Part of the rise in the number of reports and potential criminal acts is attributed to an intensive awareness rising campaign about the issue and ways to report it.

Slovenia still undefeated at European Volleyball Championship

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian men's volleyball team is still undefeated in Group C of the European Championship in Ljubljana, having defeated Turkey 3:0 on Sunday for its third win in as many matches. Slovenia are tied with the defending champions Russia on top of the group with nine points each. Slovenia had earlier defeated Belarus and Finland. After a day off, they will play North Macedonia on Tuesday before wrapping up group play against Russia on Wednesday.

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