Ljubljana related

04 Sep 2019, 01:45 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:

BSF panel told NATO strong due to shared values

BLED - The Bled Strategic Forum, the two-day event which attracted some 1,000 participants from 60 countries, discussed the future of NATO, looking at the challenges facing the alliance 70 years after it was established. The need for internal transformation was highlighted, as was the need to look beyond immediate military threats if NATO is to be fit to address increasingly complex challenges. The speakers, including Slovenian Defence Minister Karl Erjavec, agreed NATO remained vital as a political and security alliance, not only as a guarantor of security for its members but mostly due to their shared values.

BSF panel predicts possible Brexit scenarios

BLED - The participants in a BSF panel on Brexit were not in agreement on what would happen on 31 October, when the UK is expected to leave the EU. They said the deadline could bring about a no-deal Brexit or the UK could exit with a mildly amended current agreement. Gisela Stuart, a former British Labour MP, said that the UK would leave on 31 October without a deal, but the two sides would reach smaller agreements immediately afterwards. The option of such deals was ruled out by Stefaan De Rynck, one of the key advisers to Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator for Brexit.

BSF panel says it's high time for W Balkans to join EU

BLED - The traditional high-profile panel on the Western Balkans at the Bled Strategic Forum heard participants note that it was high time for the countries of the region to join the EU as they were making serious progress, and that the EU should not forget about the region while dealing with internal issues. The debate initially revolved around the appointment of Matthew Palmer from the US Department of State as a special envoy to the Western Balkans. Palmer said what the US had done was "demonstrate responsiveness to the demands by partners and allies who have told us that we are not sufficiently engaged with the Western Balkans".

Pahor meets several high-profile BSF guests

BLED - President Borut Pahor met a number of foreign senior officials on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum, including Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Matthew Palmer from the US Department of State. "EU enlargement is of strategic and vital importance for the EU, whereas the region needs an active, responsible and credible EU," was a view shared by Pahor and Haavisto. In meeting Deputy Assistant Secretary Palmer, the US's new special envoy to the Western Balkans, Pahor said efforts should be made to keep dialogue with all Western Balkan countries going. He also announced an extraordinary summit of the Brdo-Brijoni Process, a regional initiative aimed at EU-Western Balkan cooperation, would be held in Slovenia in November.

FM Cerar discussing EU issues with Spanish counterpart

BLED - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met his Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell, the candidate for the EU's next foreign policy chief, on the margins of the Bled Strategic Forum for talks focusing on current EU issues. Cerar expressed satisfaction over the excellent bilateral relations. The pair talked about migrations, control over the EU's external borders, EU enlargement towards the Western Balkans and the situation in the region. Cerar also held meetings with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean Nasser Kamel and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

AmCham panel agrees change welcomed by successful companies

BLED - The debate as part of the AmCham Reinvention Breakfast at the BSF concluded that what made companies successful was their willingness to cope with the challenge of reinventing themselves and adjusting to constant change brought by digitalisation and the rise of artificial intelligence. Marten Kaevats, a digital advisor for the Estonian government, said digitalisation was actually about cultural change. Joško Mrndze, Google's manager for the Adriatic region, argued that constant change and disruption was a good thing, as it encouraged companies to be resilient, fast and adaptable.

NSi not to endorse confidence vote-tied budget

LJUBLJANA - In the wake of a rift between the minority government and its opposition partner the Left, there have been speculations about the coalition turning to New Slovenia (NSi) for cooperation, but the conservative NSi dispelled any doubts by saying it did not support the government and that there had been no talks about possible cooperation. Moreover, NSi leader Matej Tonin said the party would not back the 2020 and 2021 budgets if Prime Minister Marjan Šarec opted to peg them to a confidence vote.

Banking sector posts 20% higher H1 profit

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian banks saw their cumulative half-year net profit rise by a fifth year-on-year to EUR 355.9 million due to strong growth in non-interest revenue and cancellation of provisions and impairments, shows a report by the central bank. Banka Slovenije said that the situation in the sector remained favourable, but warned that going forward persisting low interest rates and a slow-down in interest activity could exert pressure on interest revenue and thus the banks' profitability.

Ministry understands Lek's withdrawal from major investment

LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology said it understood a decision by pharmaceutical company Lek, or its parent Novartis, not to complete its EUR 150 million investment in a new production facility in Slovenia's Prevalje, noting companies had to adjust to market trends. Minister Zdravko Počivalšek regretted the decision, but said a serious investor was interested in the building constructed by Lek. Novartis announced on Monday it had aborted the expansion of production in Prevalje, citing lower demand for generics, and the need to introduce a new technology.

Parliamentary commission discusses DCAF report on migrations

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services will draw up a report on illegal migrations in collaboration with the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) to propose a set of measures, including stricter asylum legislation, its chair Matej Tonin told the press after the commission debated the impact of illegal migrations on organised crime on the basis of a DCAF report. DCAF head Anton Travner pointed to the abuse of asylum procedures in Slovenia, which blocked access to asylum for those who really needed it. Tonin said this should be prevented by limiting the movement of all asylum seekers who come to Slovenia. He also called for changes to the criminal code to introduce harsher penalties for people smugglers.

Vodušek case sent into retrial

MARIBOR - The Maribor Higher Court has annulled a guilty ruling for journalist Vladimir Vodušek, who was sentenced in 2018 to a year and a half in prison for attempted extortion of business executive Gorazd Korošec in 2012. It sent the case back to the Slovenj Gradec District Court, which said it will try Vodušek before a new panel of judges. It became clear the ruling could be annulled in July when a Higher Court judge said major violations of the criminal procedure had been established. The violations are believed to be related to what Vodušek's defence counsels claim was illegal evidence gathering.

Roglič wins Vuelta 10th stage, takes over red jersey

PAU, France - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič won the tenth stage of the Vuelta a Espana race, the 36.2-km individual time-trial in France's Pau, taking the race leader's red jersey. The 29-year-old, the favourite for today's victory, has thus become the first Slovenian to have won a stage at all three Grand Tours. His his fellow countrymen Tadej Pogačar finished 11th.

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03 Sep 2019, 01:44 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:

BSF opens with calls for stability and sustainability

BLED - The two-day Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) opened with addresses by senior Slovenian and UN officials who highlighted stability and sustainability as well as fighting climate change as the main factors for Slovenia and the EU and the world. PM Marjan Šarec called for a unified and coordinated approach to global challenges such as climate change, water supply and food security and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said that the BSF would propose clear plans of action. UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, who said that climate change was the "greatest challenge we must address". The event is attended by around 1,000 participants from some 60 countries.

Presidents hail friendship between Estonia and Slovenia

LJUBLJANA/BLED - President Borut Pahor and his visiting Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid noted genuine friendship between the two nations and many shared interests, as they addressed reporters after talks in Ljubljana. Pahor labelled the two countries as success stories. Kaljulaid said that Estonia and Slovenia advocated a strong Europe with clear goals such as the fight against climate change, and shared views on migrations, which she said were "no longer a crisis, but a fact". Kaljulaid and Pahor also took part in a BSF debate, speaking in favour of a strong EU as the best framework for European action.

Former Italian PM Letta honoured with Bled forum award

BLED - Former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta was honoured with the Bled Strategic Forum Distinguished Partner Award, conferred by the BSF and the Slovenian Foreign Ministry on prominent and engaged individuals who have embodied the principles espoused by Slovenia's largest foreign policy event. The presenter of the award, Ambassador Iztok Mirošič, praised individuals who "are a driving force of strategic thought, dialogue, progressive ideas for the mobilisation of the public, for the bettering of individuals, regions and the world, and thus also support and foster the ambitions, the mission and activities of the Bled Strategic Forum".

Cerar meets UN General Assembly president, ministers in Bled

BLED - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar held several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum. He held talks with the president of the UN General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces as well as the foreign ministers of North Macedonia and Turkey. Cerar and Espinoza Garces discussed the importance and role of multilateralism and ways in which it can be strengthened. In talks with ministers Nikola Dimitrov from North Macedonia and Mevlüt Cavusoglu from Turkey, the main topic was the countries' efforts to join the EU.

No news yet on Slovenian commissioner candidate's brief

BLED - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec told reporters that he had no information yet about the brief to be assigned to the Slovenian candidate for European commissioner Janez Lenarčič, even though he had talked to the European Commission's president elect Ursula von der Leyen twice. "As far as I know she intends to have another round of talks this week, and then she would probably decide," Šarec told the press on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum.

Lek aborts investment in new factory at Prevalje

PREVALJE - Lek, the Slovenian subsidiary of drug maker Novartis, aborted its EUR 150 million investment into expanding production in the northern town of Prevalje where Lek has been present for more than 40 years. The decision appears to have been made due to lower demand for generics. "The analysis has shown the facility is suitable for introducing the technology of continuous manufacturing, but this has proved to be merely a short-term solution, so we decided not to continue the investment," Lek said, announcing it would return EUR 1.5 million it had already received in state incentives. The local community met the news with a bitter disappointment, not least because the plant was to create 140 new jobs.

Počivalšek sole candidate for SMC leadership

LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek is the only candidate for the top job at the Modern Centre Party (SMC), with the deadline for bids passing on Saturday. The party's congress has been moved forward from 5 October to 21 September. The Ljubljana congress will mark the end of an era of Miro Cerar being at the helm of the party. Počivalšek decided to accept this challenge due to the support of the party's top echelons, in particular Cerar's seal of approval.

Terme Čatež AGM approves sale of Marina Portorož

ČATEŽ OB SAVI - The shareholders of spa operator Terme čatež approved the sale of Marina Portorož to MMNT on Friday, according to minutes of the AGM. The joint venture established by investment company Adventura Holding and Glen, a company owned by the management of furniture retailer Lesnina, is to pay EUR 21.6 million for the country's largest marina, the newspaper Finance reported. The shareholders also decided not to cover EUR 5.5 million in loss, which several small shareholders intend to challenge.

Eligma wins EUR 4m foreign investment

LJUBLJANA - Eligma, the Slovenian company providing smart commerce solutions, announced it had received a EUR 4 million investment from the Swiss Pangea Blockchain Fund and Bitcoin.com to finance its expansion in the global market. Eligma, which raised start-up capital in an initial coin offering, has developed the app Elipay, which allows instant cryptocurrency transfers, while the merchant gets paid in the local currency of choice, in order to avoid potential currency volatility.

New school year starts for 261,500 kids

LJUBLJANA - After ten weeks of holidays, a new school year started for roughly 74,000 Slovenian secondary school students and 187,525 primary school children. Among them, 20,840 six-year-olds entered school for the first time in their lives, with schools organising reception parties to welcome them. President Borut Pahor encouraged students to welcome new knowledge with open minds, and above all to think about everything with their own heads.

International schools increasingly popular

LJUBLJANA - International schools operating in Slovenia are mostly intended for foreigners, but interest has been growing also among Slovenian children. This year they will have 600 students. Three private international schools, the British International School of Ljubljana, the American QSI International School and France's Ecole Francaise Ljubljana, each teach curricula from the countries of their origin. Internationally compatible courses are also offered by several Slovenian public schools.

British author sets explosive debut novel in Slovenia

LONDON, UK - British chemical engineer and author Fiona Erskine has set her literary debut The Chemical Detective in the snowy slopes of the Slovenian Julian Alps. The crime novel revolves around Dr Jaqueline Silver who works on avalanche control and finds herself caught in a cobweb of lies, mysteries and threats after uncovering an international chemical smuggling operation. According to Aurora Walshe, editor of magazine Chemistry World, the novel is fast-paced and thrilling.

UEFA to hold football match in Ljubljana

NYON, Switzerland - The UEFA management will visit Slovenia at the initiative of its boss, Slovenian Aleksander Čeferin. The European football's governing body will hold a couple of events on the margins of its executive committee assembly in Ljubljana on 24 September. UEFA will first launch Football in Schools, a new project for the 2020-2024 period which includes two Slovenian schools and one from each of Slovenia's neighbours. It will also hold a football match in Ljubljana's Republic Square.

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02 Sep 2019, 07:32 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:

Pahor invokes Antigone at WWII ceremony

WARSAW, Poland - President Borut Pahor was among world leaders that took part in a ceremony in Warsaw marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War on Sunday, commenting that the thought accompanying him throughout the commemoration was Antigone's "I am not here to share in hate, but in love". Pahor held several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event, including with his Slovakian, Latvian and Ukrainian counterparts. He invited Volodymyr Zelensky to visit Slovenia.

Slovenian MEP joins appeal for UK parliament shutdown investigation

BRUSSELS, Belgium - MEP Milan Brglez (SD/S&D) has joined an appeal by a group of MEPs asking the European Commission to examine whether British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move to suspend parliament is in breach of EU law. "It is a sad day for development of democracy and the rule of law in British and all-European history. Parliaments are the essence of a country's democratic system (...) So their work should be enhanced rather than hampered," said Brglez, the former Slovenian parliamentary speaker.

Elections put local government deeper in debt

LJUBLJANA - The cumulative debt of Slovenia's 212 municipalities increased last year by 1.3% to EUR 852.9 million. according to a report by the Finance Ministry. The increase, coming after three years of decline, is blamed on heavier investment spurred by local elections. Only 13 out of the 212 municipalities were not in debt. The capital Ljubljana with a population of 274,000 reported the biggest debt, at EUR 153.7 million, but its per capita debt, at EUR 561, was not much above the average EUR 414.

National instant payment system to become operational soon

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's national system for instant peer-to-peer money transfers will be up and running by the end of 2019 or early 2020. Most of the banks have developed a special mobile app for the purpose. The system, called Flik, is being developed by Slovenian banks in cooperation with the national payment processor Bankart. The system involves all 15 Slovenian commercial banks and savings banks. It will initially allow transfers of up to EUR 15,000 between the accounts of physical persons.

Pogačar wins 9th stage of Vuelta

ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra - Slovenian rider Tadej Pogačar won the 9th stage of the Vuelta, the tour of Spain, in his biggest career achievement to date. His compatriot Primož Roglič came in third to advance to 2nd in overall rankings. In his debut appearance in a Grand Tour Race, the 20-year old UAE Team Emirates rider beat the race leader, Columbian Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Roglič, Jumbo-Visma captain on the last ascent of the hilly 94.4 kilometre Andorra stage to advance to 5th spot overall.

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01 Aug 2019, 00:30 AM

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Erjavec and Ermenc visit Colorado national guard

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec and Major General Alenka Ermenc, the chief of the general staff, visited the Colorado Army National Guard, the Slovenian Defence Ministry said, noting Colorado is a US federal state with which the ministry has been cooperating within the State Partnership Programme for 26 years. Together with Major General Michael Loh, the commander of the Colorado Army National Guard, Erjavec and Ermenc signed a programme of priorities in defence cooperation. The delegation also attended the annual general conference and exhibition of the National Guard Association of the US and was received by Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

Adria Airways pilots threaten with series of strikes

LJUBLJANA - Pilots at Ardia Airways, Slovenia's airline in German ownership, are planning three three-day strikes next month, starting on 8 September, to force the management to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, the Trade Union of Pilots (SPPS) said in a release. Adria, responding to the announcement, told the STA the talks would continue next week, but declined to comment any further, saying "the talks are internal in nature". The collective bargaining agreement for pilots expires tomorrow, with pilots complaining about "unbearable working conditions" and urging the management to "stop violating the existent collective bargaining agreement".

Protesters demand farm minister's resignation over bear, wolf culling

LJUBLJANA - Some 200 animal rights and environmental activists urged Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec to resign, as they protested against the authorities' plans to cull endangered brown bears and wolves. They believe she is unaware of the role of sustainable agriculture and only promotes the arguments of farmers. The authorities were urged to start implementing other measures that are already available to farmers and to limit the feeding of bears by hunters. The activists accused the hunters of overfeeding the bears for trophies. The protest was held after hunters were allowed to kill nearly 200 bears and eleven wolves under an emergency law passed in June.

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31 Aug 2019, 02:11 AM

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Slovenia's GDP growth slows down in Q2 to 2.5%

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.5% in the second quarter of the year in real terms, or by 2.6% when adjusted for season and working days. Both figures indicate a slow-down compared to the previous quarter. The seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter GDP growth ran at 0.2%, the Statistics Office reported. This too is a 0.4 percentage-point slow-down compared to the first quarter. The Statistics Office also revised data for GDP growth in 2018, to 4.1% in real terms, which is a 0.4 percentage point downgrade from the February estimate, and a 0.7 percentage point drop from 2017.

Šarec to visit Russia in mid-September

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec will pay a visit to Russia on 10 and 11 September to meet his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister's office announced, adding that the visit was intended for strengthening political dialogue and economic ties with Russia. This will be the first visit by Šarec to Russia since he took over as prime minister in August 2018. According to his office, the purpose of the visit is to "confirm the good relations between the countries, strengthen bilateral dialogue and seek opportunities for further development of all-around cooperation."

Petrol's revenue, profit up in first six months

LJUBLJANA - The group around fuel retailer Petrol saw its sales revenue rise by 15% to EUR 2.73 billion in the first six months of the year, with its net profit up by 4% to EUR 40.7 million year-on-year. The operating profit rose by 23% to EUR 66.1 million, the Ljubljana-based energy group said. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 25% to EUR 98.7 million.

Luka Koper group net profit down 28% in first half

KOPER - Port operator Luka Koper posted revenue of EUR 120 million in the first half of the year, up 6% over the same period in 2018. Net profit declined by 28% to EUR 25 million. The bulk of the decline in profit is attributed to a damage claim worth over EUR 9 million. The second major reason is an increase in labour costs of EUR 8.4 million due to the hiring of workers that had previously been sourced from port services companies.

Slovenia's annual inflation at 2.3% in August

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation in August reached 2.3%, whereas the prices of consumer goods rose by an average 0.4% at the monthly level, the Statistics Office said. Since last August, the prices of services have increased by 3.1% and the prices of goods by 1.9%. The annual inflation rate was driven by higher prices in the group of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, contributing 0.7 percentage points to it. The harmonised index of consumer prices, an EU benchmark, stood at 2.4% in August, up 0.4 points from August 2018.

Survey unemployment rate in Q2 close to pre-crisis level

LJUBLJANA - The Statistics Office reported that the survey unemployment rate for the second quarter of the year was at 4.2%, which is a whole percentage point down compared to the same period last year and close to the lowest rate ever recorded, the 4.1% rate observed in the third quarter of 2008. The rate for the April-June period was meanwhile down by 0.6 of a percentage points compared to the first quarter of 2019.

Telekom shareholders get EUR 4.50 per share

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of Telekom Slovenije, the majority state-owned telecoms incumbent, endorsed dividends of EUR 4.50 per share, which makes for a total dividend payout of EUR 29.3 million. This is in line with the proposal by management and significantly below EUR 14.30 per share that the shareholders secured last year, when Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) sidelined the management's proposal and more than doubled the proposed dividend payout. The company also got two new supervisors, with Igor Rozman, a director at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, and Barbara Cerovšek Zupančič, an executive at the bank DBS, being appointed at the proposal of SSH.

Unior group with higher revenue, lower net profit in H1

ZREČE - The group around Unior, the Zreče-based maker of forged metals and tools, generated EUR 132.1 million in sales revenue in the first half of the year, up 4.9% year-on-year, while net profit was down by 4.1% to EUR 9.4 million. The unaudited report says that the lower net profit was mainly a consequence of slightly poorer results of subsidiaries. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) at the group level were up by 2.2% to EUR 19 million.

Battery maker Tab mulling Li-ion future

MEŽICA - Tab, the Mežica-based maker of starter batteries for cars and industrial batteries, is mulling a partnership to branch out into the production of lithium-ion batteries of the kind used for electric cars, with CEO Bogomir Auprih announcing that the decision would be made by the end of the year. The company would partner with foreign companies to launch production, presumably in Slovenia, where it has its main production location. Tab is among top ten battery producers in the world and ranks sixth among manufacturers of industrial-grade batteries.

Heta sells half a billion package of Slovenian bad claims

LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of Heta Asset Resolution, the bad bank that took over the assets of bankrupt Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria, has endorsed the sale of Heta's remaining claims in Slovenia as it prepares to wind down its Slovenian operations, the STA has learned. Judging by the public call for bids, the package is valued at EUR 551 million and includes EUR 386 million in non-performing claims. While the buyer has not been disclosed officially, news portal Siol reported earlier this week that MK Group, the investment vehicle of Serbian businessman Miodrag Kostić, had submitted the best bid, offering EUR 230-250 million for the package.

Two hotels in Bled sold to Chinese investors

BLED - A Ljubljana-based company, reportedly in Chinese ownership, has bought two four-star hotels in the popular holiday resort of Bled, north-west. The value of the deal is not known, but news portal Siol said it could be around 10 million euro. The Kompas and Lovec hotels, which have 95 and 52 rooms, respectively, were sold by Kompas Hoteli Bled, a firm controlled by Ivan Tatić and Milorad Sikima. The Bled hotels were bought by Golden Forest, a company whose ownership is unclear, according to Siol.

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30 Aug 2019, 02:03 AM

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PM Šarec dismisses Brane Kralj as LMŠ secretary general

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, the leader of the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), dismissed Brane Kralj as the party's secretary general following a report against him which claims that Kralj had tried to exert staffing pressure. Announcing the decision which comes after the party launched a debate on the allegations, Šarec told the press he had not been aware of the controversial phone call. Kralj has been reported to the authorities by the chief supervisor of Uradni List, Irena Prijović, who claims that he called her and tried to secure a top job at the state-owned publisher of the Official Gazette for former MEP Igor Šoltes and exert staffing pressure on her.

Coalition rejecting Left's proposal, budget support ultimatum

LJUBLJANA - The coalition parties rejected the opposition Left's proposal for abolishing top-up health insurance, deeming it ill-conceived. They highlighted they would not give in to the party's threats of withholding its support for the crucial 2020-2021 budgets if the government did not back the proposal. PM Marjan Šarec said after a government session the Left had the right to carry out its own politics, but added the government had other options in case the Left decides to withdraw its budget support. Asked whether he was implying cooperation with New Slovenia (NSi), the head of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) replied that it all depended on the further developments.

Government to help 47 Slovenians in Venezuela

LJUBLJANA - The government initiate repatriation procedures for 47 Venezuelans of Slovenian origin, who will be able to settle in Slovenia under a law that permits repatriation from countries hit by a severe political or economic crisis. Seven ministries will be involved and the effort coordinated by an interdepartmental task force, said Minister for Slovenians Abroad Peter Jožef Česnik. Slovenian Interior Ministry data puts the number of Slovenian citizens living in Venezuela at 335 but only 47 have so far asked for repatriation.

Cerar briefly meets Croatian counterpart in Helsinki

HELSINKI, Finland - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met his Croatian counterpart Goran Grlić-Radman on the sidelines of an informal EU ministerial, but he had said in advance that the border arbitration agreement would not be a topic. Cerar did emphasise at the meeting Slovenia's commitment to the rule of law. Ahead of the meeting held on the sidelines of a dinner as part of the two-day informal meeting, Cerar told the press that Slovenia would advocate the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans and that respect of the rule of law was important. He told RTV Slovenija that it would be a short, informal talk which would mostly discuss the priorities of the EU presidency.

Energy and climate plan not to be ready by end-2019 deadline

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a report on the drafting of the National Energy and Climate Plan, a document which will set the course of action for ten years until 2030. Faced with delays, the government will probably not be able to send the final version to Brussels by the end-of-the-year deadline, Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said, adding that her ministry was working on the plan and related calculations expeditiously.

New US and Dutch ambassadors present credentials

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received the credentials of four new ambassadors to Slovenia: the new US Ambassador Lynda Gaye Cleveland Blanchard, Dutch Ambassador Marco Hennis, Guatemalan Ambassador Manuel Estuardo Roldán Barillas and Lao Ambassador Sithong Chitnhothinh. Only the US and Dutch ambassador are stationed in Slovenia.

Govt adopts decree to improve fire safety at waste storage facilities

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a decree on storing combustible hard waste at open-air facilities in a bid to improve fire safety at such waste storage facilities to minimize environment pollution. The decree sets down standards and rules for the facilities at which such waste is stored, including rules for the storage of bulk waste and baled waste, as well as firewall rules. "This year we've seen a number of waste storage facilities catch fire. The new decree reduces the likelihood of such fires," Environment Minister Simon Zajc said.

Slovenians in Italy cautious about new Conte-led govt

TRIESTE, Italy - The Slovenian minority in Italy is cautious about the new Italian government which is to be formed by caretaker Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), but still, they expect to get guaranteed representation in Italy's parliament. Since Senator Tatjana Rojc is a member of the minority and of the PD, Walter Bandelj of the Council of Slovenian Organisations (SSO) umbrella organisation expects the representation issue to be resolved.

Ascent Resources to demand EUR 50m in damages from Slovenia

LONDON, UK - The London-based oil and gas exploration company Ascent Resources will demand EUR 50 million in damages from Slovenia for delays in obtaining a permit to develop the Petišovci gas field in the north-east of the country, news portal Litigation Finance Journal reported. The British company earlier said it was preparing "legal claims for damages against the persistent delays in permitting relating to the further development of the tight gas reservoirs in the Petišovci gas field".

MHP holding buys out small Perutnina Ptuj shareholders

PTUJ - The Ukrainian MHP holding, the new majority owner of poultry producer Perutnina Ptuj, bought out the rest of small shareholders at an AGM, with the latter announcing to challenge the decision in court. MHP has thus squeezed out the small shareholders, who have not responded to the holding's recent takeover bid for the remaining shares. It now has 99.2% of the company's shares, excluding Perutnina Ptuj's own shares. The buy-out price tag includes compensation of EUR 22.34 per share, the same as the price offered in the bid.

Women's volleyball team in round of 16 at European Championship

LODZ, Poland - The Slovenian women's volleyball team made it to the round of 16 at the European Volleyball Championship as they beat Ukraine on Wednesday in five sets in the last match of the group stage. Slovenia fell behind 1:2 in sets in last evening's match, but then won two sets in a row, the last one decisively, to qualify for the elimination round. There, Slovenia will play Germany, the winner of Group D, in Slovakia's Bratislava on Sunday.

Maribor bid farewell from European competitions

MARIBOR - Slovenian football champions Maribor are out of the European club competitions after being eliminated in the last qualifying round of the second-tier Europa League by Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad. Maribor played a 0:0 draw with Ludogorets in the first leg last week, and played out another draw (2:2) against the Bulgarians at home on Thursday evening, but the latter made it to Europa League by virtue of scoring more away goals. Maribor had been previously eliminated from the qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League by Rosenborg of Norway.

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29 Aug 2019, 02:50 AM

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LMŠ secretary general reported to authorities for exerting staffing pressure

LJUBLJANA - The chief supervisor of the Official Gazette, Irena Prijović, has reported the secretary general of the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) Brane Kralj to the Corruption Prevention Commission and to state asset custodian SSH, claiming he had instructed her to appoint former Court of Audit head and MEP Igor Šoltes as the gazette's new director and to report directly to him and not the SSH, which owns the gazette. PM Šarec said he expects Kralj to provide an explanation by Thursday. The appointment procedure is still ongoing.

Pahor to meet Austria, Croatia presidents next week

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor will meet his Austrian and Croatian counterparts, Alexander Van der Bellen and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, for a trilateral meeting in Croatia's Šibenik next Wednesday. The sixth meeting of the heads of state of Austria, Croatia and Slovenia will focus on the future of the EU as well as the situation in South-East Europe, with respect to the Western Balkans' prospects for joining the EU and illegal migration, the president's office said.

Defence minister visiting Colorado

COLORADO, US - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec is paying a working visit to the US state of Colorado until Sunday. He will visit the Colorado National Guard and meet its commander, Major General Michael A. Loh, as well as the state's governor Jared Polis. Moreover, Erjavec will attend on Saturday the annual conference of the US National Guard Association, which will also include an arms fair. The Colorado National Guard has been a long-standing partner of the Slovenian Armed Forces.

Health minister announces long-term care legislation shortly

LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Aleš Šabeder announced that long-awaited legislation on long-term care would be unveiled soon. As for the second major legislative effort, the act governing health insurance, the government plans to proceed cautiously, the minister told the STA in an interview. A new contribution will probably be necessary to finance long-term care, but Šabeder would not disclose any details. Šabeder also suggested it was yet to be decided how to replace top-up insurance.

Left wants immediate action on health insurance

LJUBLJANA - Fed up with waiting for a government bill, the Left presented its own legislative proposal to abolish top-up health insurance whose passage it says will determine whether it will continue to support the Marjan Šarec minority government or not. The bill, which is to be tabled at the end of September, proposes offsetting the loss of revenue from top-up insurance with higher employer contributions and a new capital gains tax. The coalition criticised what it described as the Left's unilateral move, insurance companies warned of hasty changes to health insurance law, employers are strongly against higher contributions, while trade unions welcomed the proposal.

Migrant trafficking ring busted

CELJE - Police in Celje announced having apprehended several persons suspected of trafficking some 280 migrants across the Slovenian border in a sting that involved over 70 criminal investigators conducting house searches in and around the city. Eight suspects face trafficking charges and two will be additionally charged with offences related to illicit drugs. Four of the suspects remain in detention and one is abroad. All of them are Slovenian citizens.

Preparations start to exhume another post-WWII mass grave

KOČEVJE - Work started this month on another mass-grave site in the woods of Kočevski Rog in south-eastern Slovenia to prepare it for exhumation of the remains of victims executed in reprisal killings after the Second World War. The victims are presumably mostly Slovenians. Currently the main project of the government commission for mass graves, the Macesnova Gorica site is being cleared out so that exhumation could begin next year. The victims are to be buried at the Ljubljana Žale cemetery.

Paloma reports EUR 3.6 million loss for 2018

SLADKI VRH - The tissue maker Paloma posted a net loss of EUR 3.6 million in 2018 as revenue fell by 3% to EUR 82 million. In the annual report CEO Jaroslav Fic describes 2018 as one of the toughest years for the company. Cellulose prices increased by more than 25%, which was mitigated by improved sales terms and cost cutting. The company is owned by SHP Group, the Slovak group which is in turn owned by the Czech financial fund Eco Investment. Last year, Paloma spent almost EUR 1.6 million on investment.

Murska Sobota hosts contemporary dance festival

MURSKA SOBOTA - Foreign Tongues, a production by the Austrian dance company Liquid Loft, will open a contemporary dance festival in Murska Sobota in north-eastern Slovenia tonight. Running until Saturday, the 14th Fron+@ of Contemporary Dance will feature 25 events and artists from nine countries, aiming to contribute to the openness of art, city, and people. Almost all events will take place outdoors, on the streets and in other public spaces, as well as in empty buildings.

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28 Aug 2019, 02:33 AM

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Šarec and Serbian PM confirm good relations, seek closer economic ties

BELGRADE, Serbia - Making an official visit to Serbia, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and his Serbian counterpart Ana Brnabić noted the good relations between the two countries while also exploring ways to deepen both political and economic cooperation. There are no major open issues between the two countries, they are important economic partners and trade is expected to increase soon, said Šarec. He reiterated Slovenia's strong support for EU enlargement to the Western Balkans. Šarec was also received by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Parliamentary Speaker Maja Gojković.

Vojislav Šuc to take over as new ambassador to Croatia

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry confirmed for the STA that career diplomat Vojislav Šuc will take over as Slovenia's new ambassador to Croatia, expectedly in September, having been endorsed by the host country. Šuc will succeed Smiljana Knez, who has become an international relations advisor to President Borut Pahor. The change in Zagreb is but one of a total of 26 replacements at Slovenia's diplomatic and consular offices abroad at this time of year.

Matjaž Merkan appointed new CEO of Telekom Slovenije

LJUBLJANA - Matjaž Merkan, the former boss of the US-owned company Weiler Abrasives, was appointed new chief executive of telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije, to replace Rudolf Skobe, who quit the post in April. In his first comment Merkan expressed the confidence that Telekom would retain its leading position in the future, including by venturing into new fields. "Telekom Slovenije will need to become even more digitalised, advanced and agile," he said. The appointment was made by the supervisory board that is due to be overhauled at Friday's shareholders' meeting.

Drug maker Lek gets new chairman

LJUBLJANA - The pharma company Lek announced that its supervisory board had appointed Robert Ljoljo as the company's new chairman. Currently serving as the global head of the procurement strategy for the technical operations of Lek owner Novartis, Ljoljo will assume the top post on 1 September. The Ljubljana-based company has been led by a five-member management board since the April retirement of former chairman Zvone Bogdanovski.

DARS increases half-year toll revenue

LJUBLJANA - The national motorway company DARS earned EUR 81.92 million from the sales of toll stickers in the first half of the year, 4% more than in the same period in 2018. Revenue from cargo vehicle tolls was up by 5% to EUR 128.65 million, while revenue from the toll paid for the Karavanke tunnel increased by 7%. The operator of the national motorway and expressway network made EUR 78.19 million in net profit in the first six months, or 20% more year-on-year, shows an unaudited half-year report.

Experts say Slovenia in no rush to pick technology for nuclear reactor

LJUBLJANA - Commenting on political steps made towards a new nuclear reactor in Krško, experts at Slovenia's top research institute suggested that Asian or Russian technology trumped options involving the US or France in terms of time and cost. In interviews with the STA, they also stressed that Slovenia was in no rush to pick anyone, as the preparation stage would take years, as they commented on Prime Minister Marjan Šarec expressing support for a second reactor last week.

Police catch two smugglers transporting large group of migrants in vans

LJUBLJANA - The police said it had apprehended on Monday a smuggler transporting a total of 31 migrants in a van in the Kočevje area in south Slovenia. The stop was made following a local's tip-off and the driver was apprehended after the human cargo was discovered. None of the migrants has requested international protection. The Novo Mesto police department meanwhile reported the capture of a smuggler transporting a group of 34 Pakistani and Afghan migrants in a single van on Monday nearby Črnomelj.

Alenka Jovanovski wins Veronika Prize

CELJE - Poet Alenka Jovanovski won this year's Veronika Prize for a socially-engaged poetry collection called One Thousand Eighty Degrees (Tisoč Osemdeset Stopinj) in which she takes a critical view of today's heartless individualism and consumerism. The prize, which comes with a EUR 4,000 cheque, has been conferred by the city of Celje since 1997. The Golden Coin of Poetry for entire oeuvre went to Ervin Fritz, a 79-year-old poet, playwright and translator best known for his satire.

Art-based research networks start joint exploration

MARIBOR - Research Art and Culture (RUK) has successfully applied for government funding furthering hybrid networks that can connect culture, education, science and business. RUK is one of two networks, along with the KONS project that features several initiatives from around Slovenia, to be picked as part of EUR 9 million call by the Culture Ministry, which has secured EUR 7.2 million in EU funds for the initiative. It comprises the progressive cultural centres Delavski Dom Trbovlje, PiNA Koper and Maribor's Kibla.

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27 Aug 2019, 02:22 AM

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Two illegal migrants sentenced for abducting elderly Slovenian

NOVO MESTO - The Novo Mesto District Court sentenced a 25-year-old Moroccan and a 18-year-old Algerian to 21-month prison sentences after they pleaded guilty to abducting a 79-year-old Slovenian near the Croatian border in May and using his car to get to Italy in a case that shocked the country. The pair apologised to the abducted man and to Slovenia, expressing remorse and arguing they had suffered from mental problems due to the long journey to Europe. The authorities are yet to determine whether the third alleged abductor is of age.

One year into term, govt under no pressure to take reforms

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's first minority government, led by political novice Marjan Šarec, will enter its second year on 13 September with a relatively high approval rating. No major tensions have emerged among the five centre-left coalition parties, which enjoy an increasingly brittle support of the Left, but there have also been no major reforms. Analysts believe the high voter approval rating stems from low expectations and economic stability, which also mean the government is under no pressure to take reforms.

Poll: Govt approval down slightly but LMŠ remains on top

LJUBLJANA - The latest Mediana poll, released by POP TV on Sunday, showed a 5.6-percentage point drop in the voter approval rating for the Marjan Šarec government, which was however still backed by 51.6% of respondents. Šarec also remained the most popular politician and his LMŠ the most popular party, but the poll also showed the share of undecided voters rising to over 30%. The LMŠ lost 0.4 percentage points from July to 18.8%, while the opposition Democrats (SDS) in second lost 2.6 points to 15.5%.

Slovenia to remain at cutting edge in transition to clean energy

LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek highlighted the need for Slovenia to remain at the cutting edge globally when it comes to the transition to clean energy, as she addressed the European Conference of the International Association of Energy Economics. "Slovenia is among the best and we plan on keeping it this way," she said in reference to the country placing 6th among 125 countries in the World Energy Council's Energy Trilemma Index. Th conference is running until Thursday.

Youth in Slovenia protest over Amazon rainforest fires

LJUBLJANA - Some 100 young protesters gathered in front of the Brazilian Embassy on Monday to urge authorities to act as massive fires are raging in the Amazonia. Calls for Slovenia to block the trade agreement between the EU and Brazil and to join economic sanctions against Brazil could also be heard at the protest organised by the Youth for Climate Justice movement. Andrej Kurnik, a lecturer from the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences, said "neither French President Emmanuel Macron nor Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has the right to deny Amazonia natives the right to their living environment, nor have they the right to deny us what we call the Planet's Lungs".

Business sentiment declines in August

LJUBLJANA - The business sentiment indicator for Slovenia deteriorated in August at both the monthly and annual levels, while still being above the long-term average. The indicator has been dropping since 2017, when it reached the second-highest level ever, the Statistics Office reported. Compared to July, the indicator was down 0.8 percentage points, while dropping 4.6 points year-on-year, with the lower sentiment in manufacturing (-2.5pp) having the biggest impact.

Regular petrol to get cheaper at midnight

LJUBLJANA - Regular petrol sold at service stations outside the Slovenian motorway network will get cheaper as of midnight, selling at 1.264 euro per litre or 2.8 cents less than so far. The administered price of diesel will stay unchanged over the next fortnight at 1.237 euro per litre, according to the Economy Ministry. The price changes do not affect other types of fuel or fuel sold at service stations along the motorways and expressways, as these are formed freely by the retailers.

Boris Pahor celebrates 106th birthday

LJUBLJANA - Boris Pahor, one of the most celebrated Slovenian writers, turned 106, celebrating his birthday at what has become a traditional event at Ljubljana's Konzorcij bookshop. A strong advocate of Slovenian identity and language, the Trieste-born author witnessed Fascist violence and survived a Nazi concentration camp, so he has dedicated his life and work to warning about the pitfalls of totalitarian regimes and to promoting confidence based on a good knowledge of history and one's own identity.

Skydiver Avbelj to be inducted into hall of fame

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian skydiver Irena Avbelj will be inducted into the International Skydiving Hall of Fame at a banquet at the March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California on 19 October. She is one of the ten athletes to be honoured for their innovation and outstanding achievement in skydiving in 2019. Avbelj won 20 gold, eleven silver and six bronze medals at European and world championships before she had to end her career due to grave injuries sustained at the 2011 European championships in Serbia.

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26 Aug 2019, 02:40 AM

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Estonian president ahead of Bled forum: We need to prepare for world in 2050

LJUBLJANA/TALLINN, Estonia - Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid will be one of the main guests of this year's Bled Strategic Forum. Kaljulaid expects the meeting to bring an in-depth debate on sustainable development and answers on how to prepare for a further global population rise and prevent the planet from suffering. "The issue of resources is becoming more and more important for the whole world and Europe has been a leader in these discussions," she told the STA.

State gradually taking possession of orphan securities

LJUBLJANA - Almost three years since the discontinuation of free accounts managed by the Central Securities Clearing Corporation (KDD), the company is still in possession of thousands of stocks issued during the early 1990s privatisation that their owners have not claimed. These securities will now be gradually transferred to the state-run KAD fund starting with a transfer of all remaining stocks to a single dedicated account in September.

Heavy rain creates problems in Koroška

ČRNA NA KOROŠKEM/VUZENICA - Severe storms which hit Koroška on Saturday caused major damage across the northern region, including landslides blocking local roads and railway tracks, kindergarten flooding and an emergency evacuation of a family. Relief works have already started and are expected to last several days.

Roglič makes up for lost time, finishes third in Vuelta 2nd stage

ALICANTE, Spain - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič took third place in the second stage of the Vuelta a Espana race on Sunday, making up for the majority of the time he lost on Saturday.

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