Ljubljana related

25 Aug 2019, 02:41 AM

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Want to catch up on the news from last week? There's a summary of the main stories here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Šarec opens AGRA fair, says issues in agriculture solvable

GORNJA RADGONA - Gornja Radgona, 24 August - The International Agriculture and Food Fair AGRA opened in Gornja Radgona, with PM Marjan Šarec saying that the event was of exceptional importance for Slovenia. He said that the issues in agriculture were solvable, but not over night, adding that the sector must tackle new challenges. The opening was also addressed by European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, who said that AGRA was a very important event, providing farmers with the opportunity to present their products. Running until 28 August and featuring 1,850 exhibitors from 32 countries, AGRA will focus on digitalisation, automation, new technology in farming and the agro-food sector.

SLS cancels wolf-related protest, Šarec calls them bluffers

GORNJA RADGONA - The non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) cancelled its protest against wolf attacks on livestock, meant to be held on the margins of the AGRA fair, saying that it had gotten assurances from the government for its demands. SLS president Marjan Podobnik said that they had been given assurances from a high representative of the government. But PM Marjan Šarec was not convinced in the party's argument. He said that Podobnik's statement was "nonsense", and questioned the true reasons why the party has cancelled the protest. The prime minister said that he would not allow anyone to "crawl back into Slovenian politics" over the backs of farmers, the government and him personally, referring to Podobnik.

European Junior Olympiad in Informatics starts in Maribor

MARIBOR - The 3rd European Junior Olympiad in Informatics kicked off in Maribor with a special ceremony, while the actual competition featuring a total of 90 primary school children from 24 countries competing to win the title of the best programmers in Europe will start tomorrow. The competition at the University of Maribor's Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will promote the importance of IT skills in early education as well as Slovenia and its second largest city. The event is organised by the Union for Technical Culture and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.

Another medal for Slovenian pair at canoe sprint worlds

SZEGED, Hungary - The Slovenian pair of Špela Ponomarenko Janić and Anja Osterman won the bronze medal in the women's 500m event at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, which comes after Friday's silver in the 200m event. The medal for Ponomarenko Janić and Osterman means that the pair have earned a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by virtue of finishing in the top six. This is their third medal together at world championships, coming after yesterday's silver in the 200m event and the bronze in the 500m event in Račice, the Czech Republic, in 2017.

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24 Aug 2019, 02:19 AM

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

This summary is provided by the STA:

Šarec's support for new N-reactor causes upset in Austria

GRAZ/KLAGENFURT, Austria - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's support for the construction of a second nuclear reactor in Slovenia caused upset in Austria. Michael Schickhofer, deputy governor of the federal state of Styria, urged the federal government to intervene to prevent plans for a new reactor replacing the exiting one at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant beyond 2043 to go ahead. Meanwhile, Gernot Darmann, the leader of the Carinthia Freedom Party (FPÖ), announced "massive opposition" to the project. The Slovenian Infrastructure Ministry said that no decision on a potential new reactor has been taken yet.

Totalitarian regimes start with intolerance, president warns

LENDAVA - All totalitarian regimes started with small displays of intolerance and to defend a minority is to defend peaceful coexistence, President Borut Pahor said on the eve of European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes at a ceremony in Lendava. Nobody should forget bitter history lessons, said the president, warning that everyone belongs to a minority so intolerance to one could affect anyone.

Higher court upholds compensation for wiped-out investors

CELJE - Media reported that the Celje Higher Court had upheld a ruling under which Abanka has to fully refund two clients whose subordinated bonds were wiped out in the December 2013 bailout, interest included. The decision makes the Celje District Court's ruling from June 2018 final, so it must be implemented even if Abanka appeals at the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs are two well-known Celje lawyers who claimed the bank failed to properly inform them about the risks involving the bonds.

Slovenia and Turkey agree further cooperation in agriculture

HOČE/PTUJ - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec and her visiting Turkish counterpart Bekir Pakdemirli attended on Thursday the signing of a document laying down the guidelines for future cooperation as part of the Slovenia-Turkey Management Committee for Agriculture and Forestry. Pivec and Pakdemirli also agreed to have an action plan drawn up that will define concrete cooperation. The pair also attended a ministerial conference in Ptuj today featuring farm ministers from EU and candidate countries discussing the transfer of knowledge in agriculture into practice.

New environmental issue on horizon

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Chamber of Public Utilities said that the Hungarian government had decided to ban imports of sewage sludge, a move that could spell serious trouble for Slovenia, which exports around 70,000 tonnes of sludge from its municipal wastewater treatment plants to Hungary a year. From September onwards, Slovenia could be left with 120 to 140 tonnes of sludge a day, while an alternative solution would have to be found by the end of the year, as all existing permits will expire by then.

Koper port among best connected in the world

KOPER - The Koper port placed 80th on this year's list of 900 best connected container ports in the world, published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development. The port ranks the highest among all Adriatic Sea container ports since the first such ranking in 2006. The first place went to the Shanghai port, while Antwerp was the highest placed port in Europe, having placed 6th in the world. Koper has a 40% share of all container transport in the north Adriatic and the biggest terminal in the region.

Trojanow criticises EU for protecting only own interests

PTUJ - Award-winning author Ilija Trojanow, a special guest of this year's Days of Poetry and Wine, read out his Open Letter to Europe at the opening of the festival on Wednesday, likening the EU to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Europe is involved in atrocities, such as against migrants, but avoids guilt because it is also trying to be democratic, he says. He told the STA that European democracy was in great crisis. Not because of right-wing populists, like many believe, but because most people are too impassive.

Begunje resounding with Avsenik music

BEGUNJE NA GORENJSKEM - Begunje na Gorenjskem, the home town of the legendary Avsenik brothers, is hosting the fifth annual festival of polka music centred around their heritage until Sunday. More than 4,000 visitors, mostly from German-speaking European countries, are expected at the festival, which will hear more than 150 pop folk songs created by the Avsenik Brothers Ensemble, set up by Slavko Avsenik (1929-2015) and Vilko Ovsenik (1928-2017).

Maribor closer to Europa League after draw with Ludogorets

RAZGRAD, Bulgaria - After being eliminated from the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, Slovenian football champions Maribor are well on track of making it to the second-tier Europa League. They squeezed out a 0:0 draw with Ludogorets Razgrad in Bulgaria in the first leg of the last qualifying round on Thursday evening. They believe their fans will be able to celebrate their entry into the Europa League next week at home.

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 Aug 2019, 02:28 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:

PM Šarec urges all-out effort to build second nuclear reactor

KRŠKO - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec visited Slovenia's sole nuclear power plant, calling for "investing all our efforts to build a second reactor" to replace the current one beyond 2043. "We need to invest all our efforts in this and set out to build a second reactor because in the future we will need ever more electric power, in particular if we want to be a development-oriented country," he said as he visited to the Krško Nuclear Power Plant. The existing reactor is slated for closure in 2043, by roughly which time the Šoštanj coal-fired power station TEŠ will have ceased to operate, so Šarec believes Slovenia needs to decide what energy policy it will pursue.

Insurance group Sava sees 60% rise in H1 net profit to EUR 22.6m

LJUBLJANA - The Sava Insurance Group, Slovenia's second largest, generated EUR 22.6 million in net profit in the first half of the year, a 59.3% year-on-year increase coming as gross premiums written were up 9.1% to EUR 336.8 million. In a regulatory filing with the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, the core company Sava Re said the profit growth was driven by high growth in premiums, higher cost effectiveness, higher returns of financial investment and benign claims developments in Slovenia. The increase in gross premiums is attributed to growth in non-life insurance in Slovenia (9.5%), non-life insurance abroad (18.2%), reinsurance (6.6%) and life insurance in Slovenia (1.5%).

EU to chip in EUR 101m for Maribor-Šentilj rail link upgrade

LUBLJANA - The European Commission confirmed that the EU Cohesion Fund is to contribute EUR 101 million for the renovation of the 16-kilometre rail section between Maribor and Šentilj on the border without Austria, the project worth a total of EUR 254 million. The Commission wrote it had taken into account the projected increase in traffic on the Baltic-Adriatic corridor that the section is a part of. The upgrade, which will also have positive economic effects, will increase the daily capacity of the section from 67 to 84 trains. EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc expressed the "hope this will convince people to leave their car home an opt for a greener transport option".

PM defends decision to buy four expensive armoured cars

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šared defended the government's decision to purchase highly expensive armoured cars, which has raised some controversy in the media. He explained that the vehicles are intended for foreign delegations, and also pointed to the upcoming Slovenian presidency of the EU, which requires adequate protective measures. Šarec's comments came after the business paper Finance reported that the government had purchased last year four brand-new armoured cars, with two Mercedes S600, costing more than a million euro combined, standing out.

Slovenia still needs to realise Communism was bad, conference hears

LJUBLJANA - The Study Centre for National Reconciliation marked the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes with a conference at the Ljubljana cathedral. In her address, the centre's head, Andreja Valič Zver, said that Slovenia still needed to realise that all totalitarian regimes were bad. Slovenians did a much better job dealing with the consequences of Fascism and Nazism than with consequences of Communism, she said, adding that no member of the former establishment has been held accountable for their crimes.

Consumer confidence dampened by job outlook

LUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer confidence deteriorated in August, mainly due to lower employment expectations. The index is two percentage points down on the month before and three points lower year-on-year, but still 12 points above long-term average. After a significant drop in the second half of last year, consumer confidence increased slightly at the beginning of 2019, remaining broadly flat since February, the Statistics Office said. The monthly decline in August was driven by a six percentage-point deterioration in consumers' expectations about jobs. "After two upbeat years, this year a majority of consumers expect an increase in unemployment in the next 12 months."

Good and bad news for aircraft maker Pipistrel

AJDOVŠČINA - Pipistrel, the Ajdovščina-based aircraft maker, posted a new success as the first woman ever crossed the Atlantic and Pacific solo on its ultralight aircraft. Aarohi Pandit, a 23-year-old from Mumbai, made history on Wednesday as she landed safely in Russia's Far East region of Chukotka, having flown from Alaska's Unalakleet city across the Pacific Ocean's Bering Sea. This happened however after one of Pipistel's two-seater all-electric planes was forced to crash land into a lake in Norway last week. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.

Kras wildfire put out

MIREN - The fire that broke out yesterday south of Nova Gorica and destroyed some 100 hectares of woodland has been put out, reported the Primorska Civil Protection, adding that some 30 firefighters remained at the site to make sure that the fire does not reignite. While 130 firefighters were battling the flames yesterday afternoon, 190 were in the site today, Primorska Civil Protection chief Samo Kosmač said. The firefighters, who worked on demanding terrain, had support from two helicopters. The damage caused by the fire is to be estimated in the coming days.

Tartini Festival kicks off at the seaside

PIRAN - The annual Tartini Festival, dedicated to the Piran-born Italian Baroque composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, got under way with a performance by international ensemble Il Terzo Suono at the Piran St. George's Parish Church in the evening. The opening performance will include musical compositions by maestros such as Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Tartini and Baldassare Galuppi. This year, the international music festival will be held in Piran and Koper until 8 September, with its final performance being hosted in Padua on 12 September.

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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22 Aug 2019, 02:59 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

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

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

This summary is provided by the STA:

Insurance executive named new SSH chairman

LJUBLJANA - Gabrijel Škof, chief executive of insurer Adriatic Slovenica, was appointed new chairman of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), the state asset manager, by the supervisory board. He expressed satisfaction that he was selected but was reluctant to discuss his vision of state asset management, because he first needs to become familiar with "matters that are not known to the general and expert public". The supervisors will soon be looking for a new management board member, as Andrej Božič handed in his resignation today. He will leave the job on 1 December.

Farmers suspend protest activities over wolf attacks issue

LJUBLJANA - The Trade Union of Farmers announced it is suspending its protest activities over ineffective government measures against wolf attacks on farm animals. The union, which met PM Marjan Šarec on Tuesday, will thus not hold the rally planned for this Saturday and is also withdrawing its demand for the resignation of Environment Minister Simon Zajc. The union, which already staged a protest in early August, confirmed on that its decision was based on the meeting with Šarec, saying it expected "that those responsible will ... address the issue of wild animals as a matter of urgency in line with the commitments and start with the culling of wolves immediately."

Oman laid to rest with state honours

ŠKOFJA LOKA - Several hundred people came to the funeral of Ivan Oman, one of the key people of Slovenia's independence efforts. The co-founder of the Farmers' Association and a member of Slovenia's first parliament was laid to rest with state honours. President Borut Pahor addressed the mourners, saying that Oman understood the time and the people at the start of Slovenia's political spring. He described Oman as a tolerant and patient man, who understood other people's doubts and diverging views and these abilities only deepened the trust of the people.

DSP head decries state of book publishing, points finger at Culture Ministry

LJUBLJANA - The president of the Slovenian Writers' Association (DSP) Dušan Merc has decried in a public letter to Culture Minister Zoran Poznič the state of Slovenian book publishing. Noting a marked drop in funding, Merc says Slovenia is not ready for the fairs in Bologna and Frankfurt where it will be the guest of honour in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The fairs "are a major opportunity, but - this is not only a bad feeling - we are not ready", wrote Merc, also speaking of a "lack of vision and lethargic attitude of bureaucrats in charge of your ministry". The ministry responded by saying it was aware of the importance of Slovenian books and publishing, while adding it "will meanwhile not respond to ill-defined accusations."

Market to build access points for half of 100,000 households without broadband

LJUBLJANA - Ten telecommunications operators have announced they will provide around 47,500 more households in rural areas with access to broadband in the coming three years. This leaves around 50,000 more households in so-called white areas, where funding of infrastructure will have to be provided by the state. The operators responded to a Public Administration Ministry query about plans for broadband infrastructure investment sent out last autumn. Allowing the state to determine where it will need to fund broadband infrastructure on its own due to a lack of market interest, the operators committed to financing the construction of access points within three years.

Wildfire raging on border with Italy

NOVA GORICA - A wildfire broke out around noon near the Cerje World War II memorial just south of Nova Gorica. Progressing quickly due to the bora wind, it destroyed some 100 hectares of forest, according to unofficial information, and spread across the border to Italy by late afternoon. Some 130 firefighters from the broader region are battling the flames on demanding terrain of thick pine and deciduous woodland with the support from four helicopters, two Slovenian and two Italian. Also at the site is a special unit for the handling of live explosive devices, as the area witnessed heavy fighting during World War II.

Coast fighting off sewage pollution

KOPER - Two of the four coastal municipalities have had problems with sewage pollution of the sea, an issue which has caught much media attention as a popular beach near Koper had to close for ten days in the midst of the tourist season. Bathing in Žusterna in Koper was spoiled at the end of July due to an uncontrolled discharge of sewage into the sea, with closure of the beach prompting a group of concerned locals to report the municipal public utility to police. Public utilities say it sewage pollution is usually a result of buildings not being properly connected to the sewage system.

Slovenia erecting another 40 kilometres of border fence

ČRNOMELJ - Slovenia has started erecting another 40 kilometres of fence along the border with Croatia, commercial broadcaster POP TV reported. Works are currently underway on a 4-kilometre segment between the villages of Zilje and Žuniči, southeast of Črnomelj. In July, the contractor, Serbia-based Legi-SGS, was chosen for the job by the Public Administration Ministry, but it the department would not reveal where the additional 40 kilometres of fencing would be erected, saying the locations had been specified in a confidential document.

Police record more than 3,000 speeding cases in a week

LJUBLJANA - The police detected more than 3,000 speed limit violations last week during a national road safety campaign. Most violations occurred in villages and towns, the General Police Administration told the STA. Between 12 and 18 August police officers recorded 3,048 speed limit violations and gave out 207 warnings as well. A majority of those violations (almost 2,500) took place in urban areas, while some 330 occurred outside villages or towns and some 220 on highways and expressways.

Kids to gather in Slovenia for European IT Olympics

MARIBOR - The city of Maribor will soon host a competition in which some 90 primary school children from 24 countries will try to prove they are the best programmers in Europe. The European Junior Olympiad in Informatics, to be held for the third year from 23 to 29 August, is meant to encourage interest in computer science among the young. The Slovenian organisers - the Association for Technical Culture (ZOTKS) and the Ministry of Education and Science - also see it as an opportunity for promoting IT and coding in general, as well as for promoting Slovenia in general.

Ukrainian and Belarusian children getting therapy in Slovenia

DEBELI RTIČ - A group of children affected by the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and Belarusian children who still feel the effects of the radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are on holiday at Slovenia's seaside until the end of this week to receive psychosocial and medical rehabilitation. The 64 Ukrainian and 30 Belarusian children arrived at the Debeli Rtič resort on 14 August as part of a project organised by the Slovenian-run organisation ITF Enhancing Human Security in cooperation with the resort operated by the Slovenian Red Cross.

21 Aug 2019, 02:53 AM

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NLB remaining domestic bank, chairman Brodnjak says

LJUBLJANA - NLB chairman Blaž Brodnjak has told the STA that NLB remains a domestic bank also after its privatisation, a bank whose heart and brain are still in Slovenia. He said NLB was looking to strengthen its role as a key regional player, including through takeovers. While pointing to the bank's profits in recent years, Brodnjak expressed concern over signs the ECB will continue with its policy of low interest rates, arguing this may not necessarily lead to positive effects. If the interest rates continue getting lower, this may shake up the banks' business model to a point where they could no longer provide nominally positive interest rates for retail deposits, Brodnjak said.

NLB and KBC examining joint sale of insurer NLB Vita

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's NLB bank and KBC Insurance, part of Belgium's banking group KBC, are together examining options to sell insurer NLB Vita, the two banks confirmed in response to unofficial media reports. The sale of NLB's insurance arm was a commitment made to the European Commission due the bank's delayed privatisation. National broadcaster Radio Slovenija reported that NLB had had the option of keeping NLB Vita, but at the cost of having the ban on takeovers imposed on the bank prolonged by a few more years. It seems that NLB, which is already eyeing takeover targets, decided selling the insurer was the better option.

Insurer Triglav generates nearly EUR 35m in net profit in H1, 16% more y/y

LJUBLJANA - The group around insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav reported a EUR 34.7 million net profit for the first half of 2019, a 16% year-on-year increase. Consolidated gross premiums were up 10% to EUR 630 million and net premium income by 6% to EUR 491.8 million. Triglav said premium growth was recorded on most of the group's markets and at levels mostly above the growth of the whole market. In Slovenia, where Triglav Group collects 76% of consolidated premiums, average premium growth stood at 8% (market growth was 7%), while it was 10% in the markets outside of Slovenia.

Ermenc: With fresh funds, negative trends in army could be reversed

LJUBLJANA - Major General Alenka Ermenc, chief of the general staff, said that not all the shortcomings which had been piling up for the past 28 years could be eliminated in a year's time, as she met the press to present the situation in the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF). Ermenc, appointed to head the SAF last November, highlighted as problematic the army's professionalisation, which had never been fully completed, and delays in its modernisation. However, she believes it would be possible to reverse the current negative trends if more funds were made available.

Auditors find a series of flaws at DARS

LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit has examined contracts signed by the state-run motorway company between 2014 and 2017, finding a series of shortcomings, including DARS paying millions to subcontractors without invoking bank guarantees for the purpose. DARS failed to claim performance securities for the case when main contractors failed to pay their subcontractors for the work put in place. On top of paying main contractors, DARS had to paid EUR 8.1m in damages to subcontractors based on out-of-court settlements between 2014 and 2017. The report also fund that DARS had spent almost EUR 37,000 on the acquisition, maintenance and development of an IT system in support of public contracting which it does not use because it is not suitable for it.

Garnbret makes history with hat trick at climbing worlds

LJUBLJANA - Janja Garnbret claimed her third gold medal at the IFSC Climbing World Championships in Japan's Hachioji, securing the title in the combined, an Olympic discipline. The 20-year-old Slovenian is the first ever climber to complete a hat trick in a single championships. Garnbret had already secured gold in the women's lead discipline on Thursday after defending the title of bouldering world champion a week ago. Her sixth world championship gold medal overall makes her the most successful athlete in the history of the sport.

Swedish TAM and Italian Atitech to provide maintenance for Adria Airways

BRNIK - Swedish group TAM and Italian company Atitech will take over base maintenance for Adria Airways aircraft the Slovenian airline told the STA. Meanwhile, Danish group Northern Aerotech has gotten the green light to carry out aircraft line maintenance starting as of Thursday. Täby Air Maintenance (TAM) will provide maintenance services for Saab2000 aircraft, while Atitech, which has been a maintenance partner for Italy's flag carrier Alitalia, will service Airbus aircraft.

Stakeholders to continue debate on wolf management next month

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec hosted a meeting at which stakeholders discussed measures against wolf attacks on farm animals, agreeing that another meeting will be held in September to talk about the necessary changes in the system of management of large carnivores in Slovenia. Agriculture, Forestry and Food Minister Aleksandra Pivec told the press after the meeting that the chronology had been reviewed of the entire developments related to large carnivores, which had spread to areas where they had never been seen before, resulting in damage to crops and attacks on livestock.

Former Church treasurer fully cleared of EU funds misuse

CELJE - Mirko Krašovec, the former treasurer of the Maribor Archdiocese, has been fully cleared of the charge that he instigated EU funds misuse ten years ago, as the Celje Higher Court fully upheld the first instance court's not-guilty ruling in the second retrial in the case. Krašovec was initially sentenced to two years in prison in December 2013 for conspiring to defraud the EU in the renovation of the Church-owned Betnava mansion in Maribor. The prosecution alleged that he persuaded the former Betnava company CEO Dragica Marinič and investment manager Anton Ekart to submit bogus construction applications to acquire EUR 1.77m in EU funds in 2009.

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

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

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

20 Aug 2019, 02:25 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

EU to demand NLB sell its life insurance business

LJUBLJANA - Unofficial information indicates the European Commission expects NLB, Slovenia's largest bank, to sell half of its life insurance business NLB Vita, which it co-owns with KBC Insurance. The business newspaper Finance reported the Commission would notify NLB of its decision soon, estimating the insurer could be sold for EUR 20-30 million. NLB will have to sell its share in NLB Vita because the state failed to privatise its agreed stake in NLB - 75% minus one share - by the end of last year. The privatisation process was completed as late as this June. NLB declined to comment on the unofficial information. NLB Vita posted a record EUR 8.3 million in net profit in 2018 on gross premiums of EUR 76.9 million, up 9% from 2017.

New ambassador wants to make US and Slovenia stronger partners

BRNIK - Lynda Blanchard, the new US ambassador to Slovenia, said she was looking forward to working with the Slovenian government to make the US and Slovenia stronger partners, as she arrived in the country. Blanchard, an entrepreneur and humanitarian activist, succeeds Brent Hartley, a career diplomat who served in Ljubljana between February 2015 and July 2018. Speaking to reporters at Ljubljana airport, she said she was "excited to be here on the sunny side of the Alps" and looking forward to "engaging with everyone and our partnerships". She is expected to present her credentials to the Slovenia president on 29 August.

Speaker wraps up visit to Austria

SALZBURG, Austria - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan wrapped up a two-day visit to Salzburg after working meetings with his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka. The pair discussed the Western Balkans, the future of the EU, climate change and a possible joint project with historians from both countries examining the nations' shared history. Accepting the idea, Židan said that Austria had already carried out such a project with the Czech Republic and Sobotka wanted to see whether Slovenia would be interested in doing the same, as the project helped Austrians and Czechs understand each other better.

Foreign Ministry issues travel alert for Hong Kong

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry advised Slovenian citizens travelling to Hong Kong to be extra cautious as street protests are being held in China's special administrative region, some of which ended in clashes with the police. The ministry advises those travelling to Hong Kong to completely avoid the locations where protests are being held since late March, consistently follow the instructions of the local security authorities, and follow the situation through the local media.

Solutions being found for toxic waste disposal

LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Simon Zajc met hazardous waste treatment companies to find a solution after a major company in the business, Kemis, had to stop accepting waste after being ordered to remove the facilities rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2017. Zajc told reporters that Kemis's counterparts could step in, providing services for 14,000-15,000 tonnes of toxic waste. The minister urged speeding up waste transport permit procedures and ordered Kemis's appeal to be handled as a priority.

Army trade unionist found guilty of breach of military discipline

LJUBLJANA - The head of the Trade Union of Soldiers (SVS) Gvido Novak has severely violated military discipline, a Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) disciplinary panel found. It thus formally terminated his employment, a measure which will however not be implemented if Novak commits no breach of discipline in a year's time, the 24ur portal reported. Novak came under fire for having publicly criticised the SAF leadership this spring when Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc was sacked as the force commander. Novak and the SVS came out strong against Maj Gen Alenka Ermenc, the chief of the general staff, who had requested Škerbinc's dismissal, and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec.

Kolektor Etra wins EUR 20m deal in Finland

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana-based energy equipment maker, Kolektor Etra, announced it had won a deal to produce, supply and install seven power transformers to the Finnish national electricity transmission grid operator Fingrid. The deal is worth EUR 20 million, which makes it the largest in the company's history. The company, a part of the industrial conglomerate Kolektor, is also supplying low-voltage transformers for wind farms under construction on the south-western coast of Finland.

Koper-Divača bridge tender annulment headed for revision

LJUBLJANA - The consortium which had won the public tender for the first of several bridges on the new rail track between the port of Koper and Divača, only to see the tender annulled by the company managing the project, announced an appeal against the decision. In an interview with the weekly Reporter, Aleksander Schara, a representative of the consortium led by Markomark Nival, also rejected the allegations that it had forged its prior experience. He expects the matter to be investigated by police.

Another accolade for Jančar's I Saw Her That Night

BUDVA, Montenegro - One of the most celebrated novels by Slovenia's leading author Drago Jančar, I Saw Her That Night (To Noč Sem Jo Videl), won the Stefan Mitrov Ljubiša Award at the Grad Teatar Festival in Budva, Montenegro, which features various artistic practices, with a focus on theatre. The 2010 novel has also won Jančar the Kresnik Prize for the best novel of the year, presented by the Slovenian newspaper publisher Delo, and the French critics and publishers' association's award for best foreign book.

FeKK festival of short films opens

LJUBLJANA - The 5th FeKK festival of short film got under way with the premiere of Slovenian omnibus Kratki Rezi (Short Deeds) in the Kinodvor cinema and a selection of films from an international documentary workshop in Krško at the Slovenian Cinematheque. Until Saturday, the festival will feature a selection of almost 60 competing short films from Slovenia, former Yugoslavia and other countries, as well as many side programmes and accompanying events.

Top-seed Bedene wins Slovenia Open

PORTOROŽ - Slovenia's best tennis player, Aljaž Bedene, won the ATP Challenger Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open on Sunday, beating Norwegian Viktor Durasovic, 7:5 and 6:3. This is the 16th Challenger series title for the 30-year-old, who climbed ten spots to 80th in ATP world rankings. Bedene is the third Slovenian player to have won Slovenia Open, following Grega Žemlja (2013) and Blaž Kavčič (2014). Last year the title went to French Constant Lestienne.

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19 Aug 2019, 02:21 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Ivan Oman, key independence figure, dies

LJUBLJANA - Ivan Oman, one of the key players of Slovenia's independence, died on Saturday aged 89. In the late 1980s he played an important role in the establishment of DEMOS, a coalition of newly-emerged centre-right parties that won the first multi-party election in Slovenia and paved the way for its breakaway from the former Yugoslavia. Top state officials, political parties and Church dignitaries expressed condolences and praised him as wise, a man who was aware of the importance of dialogue but who always followed his principles.

Slovenian, Austrian speakers propose countries examine their shared history

SALZBURG, Austria - Parliament Speaker Dejan Židan met his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka, with the pair proposing that the countries set up a mixed expert commission of historians to determine what the nations have in common and what divides them, according to a press release from the Austrian Parliament House. They agreed are to invite their respective academies of sciences and arts to establish this commission. They believe that the body's first meeting could take place already next year.

Gajser wins his second MXPG championship title

IMOLA, Italy - Slovenian motocross star Tim Gajser won his second championship title at the MXGP. "I am very happy, this has been a great season, everybody did a great job," he said after it became clear that he won the title three races before the end of the season. Gajser claimed his first MXGP championship title in 2016, his first year in the top motocross class, when he was not yet 20 years old.

Govt popularity still high in August Vox Populi

LJUBLJANA - Nearly 60% of Slovenians believe that the government is doing a good job, suggested the August Vox Populi, while the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) remains at the top of party rankings. Just over 35% believe the opposite. Nonetheless, the LMŠ remains at the top of the party rankings (22.2%), followed by the opposition Democrats (SDS; 15.5%), the Social Democrats (SD; 10%) and the Left (6.2%). The rest of the parties all remain under the 4% threshold of the National Assembly.

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17 Aug 2019, 02:50 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Ministry rejects arbitration-related statements by new Croatian FM

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry responded to the recent statements in the media by new Croatian Foreign Minister Goran Grlić Radman related to the border arbitration between the countries. The ministry said that the minister had uttered "several non-truths", which Slovenia resolutely rejected. Among other things, Grlić Radman said that Cerar, while still the PM, had almost accepted the Croatian offer in December 2017 that the border issue be resolved bilaterally, with a "protocol in six points", just as he was visiting Zagreb. The Slovenian ministry said that Slovenia was "in intensive, discreet dialogue after the final arbitration decision was announced in order to find a solution which would take into account the arbitration decision while being acceptable for both sides... It turned out in the talks that Croatia wants substantial changes in the course of the border in its favour. This is why an agreement was not reached."

Illegal border crossings peaked in July since refugee crisis

LJUBLJANA - July saw the highest number of illegal crossings of the state border in a month since the 2016 migration wave - more than 1,700. During the first seven months of this year the upward trend in such crossings was steeper than last year, according to police. In July a total of 1,740 illegal crossings were detected, while the police recorded 7,415 in the first seven months, mostly apprehending illegal migrants from Pakistan, Algeria and Afghanistan.

Tanja Strniša appointed new ambassador to Czech Republic

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor has appointed Agriculture Ministry State Secretary Tanja Strniša Slovenia's new ambassador to the Czech Republic, shows the latest issue of the National Gazette. Strniša, who was appointed by Pahor on Monday, will replace Leon Marc as the head of the Slovenian Embassy in Prague. As a long-serving state secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture from the Social Democrats (SD), Strniša belongs to the quota of political ambassadors. The 56-year-old is not without diplomatic experience, though, as she worked at the Slovenian Embassy in Prague between September 2008 and July 2009.

Average net wage down 0.8% in June

LJUBLJANA - The average wage in Slovenia in June was EUR 1,717.78 gross or EUR 1,107.96 net, with the former being down by 0.9% in real terms compared to May and the latter by 0.8%, the Statistics Office reported. The average net wage in June was up by 0.3% in the public sector, while it was down by 1% in the private sector. In the first half of the year, the average gross wage in Slovenia was up 2.8% in real terms and by 4.3% nominally. The average net wage was up nominally by 3.6% and by 2.1% in real terms. The average net wage in the January-June period was up both in the public sector and private sector, by 4.5% and 3.3%, respectively.

Almost 13,500 sign petition against bear and wolf culling

LJUBLJANA - Amid escalating tensions over action in response to a growing number of wolf attacks on farm animals in Slovenia, 13,462 people have signed a petition urging against the planned culling of bears and wolves. The petition, initiated by the animal rights group AniMa, was handed to Environment Minister Simon Zajc. The initiator of the petition, Andreja Galinec, reported with disappointment after the meeting that "we failed to prevent the culling". According to the ministry, Zajc said the emergency act on culling was "needed at this moment to get the numbers back to a level that is also favourable for the local human population".

Tonin says NSi centrist party surrounded by socialists and nationalists

LJUBLJANA - New Slovenia (NSi) head Matej Tonin has responded to criticism of the announced repositioning of the centre-right opposition party to the centre of the political spectrum by saying it would be hard for the NSi to be anything else, "since those left of us are socialists and those to the right nationalists and global warming deniers". Tonin wrote on the NSi's website that the attacks had come immediately both from the left and the right. In an allusion to some of the senior members of the right-wing Democrats (SDS), Tonin wrote that the loudest criticism was coming "from those, who executed drastic political U-turns during their political lives ... former fervent Marxists who are now global warming deniers".

Gorenje looking for 100 new workers in production

VELENJE - Home appliances maker Gorenje, which terminated the contracts of 60 back office workers as part of reorganisation last month, has told the STA it was looking for about 100 new workers in production to meet increased demand. Gorenje representative Denis Oštir said that the new workers would start already in September, would get fixed-term contracts and were needed in all of the company's production facilities in Velenje, mostly in the production of washing machines and driers.

Compulsory car insurance premiums on the rise

LJUBLJANA - The number of compulsory car insurance policies has been showing an upward trend in the past few years due to the improved economic situation and the growth of the number of registered vehicles, with revenue from premiums being on the rise for the past three years. Slovenian insurers dealing in compulsory car insurance sold 1,914.134 such policies last year, a 4.6% increase compared to the previous year and a record number so far, according to the Slovenian Insurance Association. Eight Slovenian insurers were selling third-party liability insurance policies in 2018. They sold a total of EUR 244.2 million premiums, up 6.6% on 2017. Stronger competition in the insurance market has resulted in lower premiums. Despite the upward trend of sold policies, the premiums have been getting cheaper in the past decade - by 2.8% per year on average.

Tourism takes toll on Slovenia's famous lake, algae multiply

BLED - The National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has been notified that golden-brown algae have multiplied at Lake Bled. Bathers should therefore avoid water activities where the algae are visibly present and take a shower after bathing. Špela Remec Rekar from the Slovenian Environment Agency, who monitors the state of Lake Bled, pointed out that the ecological state of the lake, which was always in good or solid condition, is worsening. The expansion of tourism and an increase in the number of fishermen and bathers are the reason for this.

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16 Aug 2019, 02:09 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

BSF head finds sustainable development matter of urgency

LJUBLJANA - Peter Grk, the secretary-general of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF), spoke to the STA before the 14th iteration of Slovenia's top foreign policy event on 2 and 3 September, saying the focus this year will be on sustainable development and climate change. "Climate change is one of the biggest challenges for humanity in the coming years and decades. This is not a problem that will arise tomorrow. It is a challenge we are already facing today," he said. Among those attending the event will be Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and Josep Borrell, the nominee for the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Thousands gather in celebration of Assumption Day

BREZJE - Thousands of Catholic pilgrims gathered at religious shrines devoted to the Virgin Mary across Slovenia to celebrate her assumption into heaven. The largest crowd converged outside the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians at Brezje for mass celebrated by Archbishop of Ljubljana Stanislav Zore, who spoke about the meaning of hope in his sermon. The archbishop also thanked those who aspire to make Slovenia open to life and those who endeavour for implementation of Constitutional Court ruling decreeing full sate funding of private primary schools.

Gold and silver for Slovenia at Climbing Worlds

TOKYO, Japan - Slovenia swept the women's lead discipline event at the IFSC Climbing World Championships in Japan's Hachioji with Janja Garnbret taking another gold and Mia Krampl silver. This is the second gold medal for Garnbret at this championships after she defended the title of bouldering world champion on Tuesday, and her fifth world championship gold medal overall. Japan's Ai Mori placed third. The latest feats bring Slovenia's tally of medals at climbing world championships to 17.

Celje-Zidani Most railway reopens after train derailment

RIMSKE TOPLICE - The railway line between Celje and Zidani Most reopened to traffic after the engine and one of the rail cars of an international freight train derailed at the Rimske Toplice station on Wednesday. The national railway operator told the STA that the right track of the railway was reopened. It remains unclear what caused the latest derailment, or the one on 6 August in which two Hungarian passenger train cars went off track at the same spot.

Despite growth, construction industry still below pre-crisis levels

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's construction industry is seeing growth for the third year now. Nevertheless, it has still not returned to the levels before the crisis, while some indicators suggest the growth trend could be reversed in the near future. While the number of construction enterprises has already reached pre-crisis figures, the turnover and the number of employees still fall considerably short. The turnover in 2018 was at EUR 6 billion, almost 30% less than in 2008, the Statistics Office reported.

Ptuj indulging in time travel

PTUJ - Slovenia's oldest town, Ptuj in the north-east of the country, was propelled back to ancient Roman times as gladiators, legionaries, senators and vestal virgins descended on the town's streets for the four-day XII Roman Games. More than 800 participants from six countries will revive the ancient Roman culture, travelling 2,000 years back in time to Roman Poetovio. The highlight will be Saturday's parade, with visitors being able to indulge in Roman food and drinks and dress up as ancient Romans.

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15 Aug 2019, 02:25 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Cooperation potential in focus as Japanese foreign minister visits

LJUBLJANA - Taro Kono visited Slovenia as the first Japanese foreign minister ever for talks with his counterpart Miro Cerar and President Borut Pahor. The potential for economic cooperation ranked prominently on the agenda, but Cerar and Kono also called for respect for the rule of law and arbitration decisions, including with regard to the Adriatic and the South China Sea. The pair also exchanged views on the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the US-China trade dispute and the situation in the Western Balkans. They also made a visit to the Yaskawa robot factory in Kočevje.

Govt replaces head of Infrastructure Agency

LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Damir Topolko as director of the Infrastructure Agency in the wake of a scandal over the botched tender for a scale model of a new rail track planned between Koper and Divača. Monika Pintar Mesarič, a Finance Ministry employee, was named as acting director as of 1 September. Topolko's dismissal was announced by Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek in February, following a suggestion by PM Marjan Šarec that everyone responsible for the allegedly rigged tender should resign, following the suit of Jure Leben, who stepped down as environment minister.

Train derails at Rimske Toplice again

RIMSKE TOPLICE - A train derailed at the Rimske Toplice train station for a second time in just a few days, closing down the railway line between Zidani Most and Maribor, a major artery for international passenger and cargo traffic. The engine of an international freight train and one of the rail cars derailed at almost exactly the same spot at which two Hungarian passenger train carriages derailed eight days ago without any injuries. The section of the railway is currently undergoing an upgrade.

Slovenia to mark centenary of unification with Prekmurje

MURSKA SOBOTA - Slovenia is observing 100 years since its northeastern-most region of Prekmurje was united with the rest of the nation after World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Located east of the river Mura, Prekmurje was the only territory the Slovenian nation gained at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. For nearly a thousand years, Prekmurje was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, while the remaining Slovenian lands were under Austrian rule. The main ceremony will be held on Saturday in Beltinci with PM Marjan Šarec as the keynote speaker.

Proposal set out dividing Slovenia into 11 provinces

LJUBLJANA - More than 25 years after the National Assembly passed legislation that ordered the establishment of provinces and after several failed attempts, a task force established in May 2019 presented a draft bill to divide Slovenia into 11 provinces. The proposal suggests uniting Slovenia's 212 municipalities in provinces by the names of Dolenjska, Gorenjska, Goriška, South Štajerska, East Štajerska, West Štajerska, Koroška, Ljubljanska, Primorsko-Notranjska, Savinjsko-Šaleška and Pomurska.

Slovenia sees 5% growth in tourism revenue

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia generated EUR 1.16 billion in revenue from incoming tourism in the first half of the year, an increase of 4.8% compared to the same period a year ago, data from the central bank show. Over the same period, the Statistics Office recorded a 6.4% increase in the number of tourist arrivals and a 4.3% growth in the number of nights spent at the country's accommodation facilities. In June alone, receipts from incoming tourism rose by 9.3% year-on-year to EUR 243 million.

Construction sector going strong

LJUBLJANA - The value of construction works in Slovenia rose by 14.4% in the first six months of 2019 year-on-year, show data released by the Statistics Office. Following a rise in May, the value of construction works decreased by 6.7% in June over the previous month. In the first half of the year the value of building construction rose by 11.9%, whereas the value of engineering construction rose by 15.1% compared to the same period in 2018.

Hunter attacked by bear with cub

AJDOVŠČINA - A she-bear with a cub attacked a hunter in the woods in the municipality of Ajdovščina, south-west, on Tuesday evening in a second bear attack on people this year. The authorities said the incident occurred as the 67-year-old found himself in between a 150-kilogramme bear and its cub. Yelling to chase it away, the hunter was bitten by the bear in the leg and sustained scratches on his head and body. He was given medical aid but is recovering at home.

Illegal migrant dies in prison, apparently a natural death

KOPER - A Pakistani citizen detained at the Koper prison on suspicion of crossing the border illegally died in what the authorities say appear to have been a natural death. The man was brought into custody on Friday when he was also examined by a doctor. The 34-year detainee was not alone in his cell. He died despite attempts by prison officers and paramedics to resuscitate him. The Prison Administration has appointed a special fact-finding commission to examine the circumstances of the death.

US, Slovenian scientists discover key new protein

LJUBLJANA - A group of US and Slovenian scientists researching the toughest biological material - the dragline silk produced by Darwin's bark spider - have discovered a new protein, which they believe helps to make it so unusually strong. The dragline silk made by Darwin's bark spider's (Caerostris darwini) has better extensibility than any other biological material and better than many synthetic materials. The discovery could be used in a number of areas where elastic but durable materials are needed.

Slovenia not to extradite Montenegrin murder convict

MARIBOR - The newspaper Večer reported that Slovenia would not extradite Božidar Samardžić, the 40-year-old Montenegrin arrested last September after 19 years on the run. While Slovenian authorities initially planned to extradite Samardžić to Montenegro, where he faces 20 years in prison for murder, they have now confirmed his case is statute barred. Samardžić has been released and is waiting for the Interior Ministry to decide on his asylum application.

Brežice hosting festival of early music

BREŽICE - The festival of early music Seviqc Brežice 2019 will feature five concerts at various locations in the south-east of the country until the end of August. The opening concert in the Devil's Tower in the village of Soteska, just west of Novo Mesto, featured Simone Vallerotonda playing lute and guitar music of the 17th century Rome. Seviqc has become well established on Europe's festival calender, and has received many awards from the European Early Music Network.

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