Ljubljana related

14 Aug 2019, 01:43 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Foreign minister meets counterpart while on vacation in Croatia

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Foreign Minister Miro Cerar had an unofficial meeting with his newly appointed Croatian counterpart Goran Grlić Radman, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry confirmed for the STA after Croatian media reported that the pair met as Cerar was on holiday in Croatia, a popular summer destination for many Slovenians. The ministry said that Cerar and Grlić Radman would hold their first official meeting on the sidelines of the EU foreign affairs ministerial scheduled for 29 and 30 August in Helsinki.

Changes agreed to speed up wolf culling

LJUBLJANA - In the wake of severe criticism by farmers that the emergency law to cull bears and wolves does not bring results, changes facilitating a faster reduction of the wolf population were agreed at a high-profile meeting Environment Minister Simon Zajc hosted at his ministry. From now on, wolves could be culled in a broader area where a pack of wolves lives, not just where the attacks take place. A change to the system of emergency culling of wolves was also agreed to allow the Environment Agency to initiate emergency culling whenever a farmer has reported their domestic animals were attacked.

FDI in Slovenia more than doubled in H1

LJUBLJANA - Foreign direct investments (FDI) in Slovenia more than doubled in the first half of 2019, reaching EUR 614.4 million, The figure is considerably higher than the EUR 242 million recorded in the same period of 2018, according to the June report of the central bank. What is more, FDI invested between June 2018 and June 2019 nearly doubled year-on-year, reaching EUR 1.4 billion compared to EUR 721.1 million recorded between June 2017 and 2018. Last year, FDI in total reached EUR 1.2 billion, with the central bank pointing out that several big takeovers had taken place during this period.

Slovenia and Japan agree closer cooperation in rehab technology

LJUBLJANA - Japanese and Slovenian partners signed two agreements that pave the way for cooperation in development and research of robotised rehabilitation devices. Fujita Health University signed one of the accords with the University of Ljubljana and the other with the Ljubljana-based URI Soča Rehabilitation Institute, and Toyota Motor Corporation. The signing was attended by Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti, who praised it as a major paving stone for further cooperation between Slovenia and Japan in the field.

Kemis to appeal against inspectors' order to remove renovated facilities

VRHNIKA - The Vrhnika-based hazardous waste treatment company Kemis said it will appeal against a decision ordering it to remove the facilities rebuilt after a devastating fire on the site in 2017. Unless the appeal is granted, the company will be forced to close down. After the building inspectorate found last week that the buildings renovated in the wake of the May 2017 fire were illegal and should be removed, Kemis stopped bringing waste from its clients to Vrhnika. Kemis has been given until June 2020 to dismantle the buildings, but CEO Boštjan Šimenc said that in this case Kemis would be gone.

SDS files fresh proposal to increase state funding for private schools

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) mounted their fifth attempt at getting parliament to put public funding for private primary schools on a par with that for public schools. The bill was submitted after the centre-left coalition was unable to override an upper chamber veto on changes that in fact lowered funding for private primary schools. It seeks to implement a 2014 Constitutional Court decision ordering that funding be equalised with that for public schools, which are 100% state funded. The SDS repeated that the ill-fated government-sponsored bill, which stipulated that the state-approved curricula be 100% state funded but slashed funding for additional activities and services from 85% to zero, failed to implement the top court's ruling.

Man gets residency status 27 years after erasure

LJUBLJANA - Budimir Vuković, one of the thousands of citizens of the former Yugoslavia who were deleted from Slovenia's registry of permanent residents in 1992, has been granted a temporary residence permit at last, regaining his driving licence as well as a right to work, the newspaper Dnevnik reported. He has been living in Slovenia since 1978. Being left without permanent residency status following Slovenia's independence, and without citizenship or any documents, the former technician at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant was unable to leave the country, while living here unlawfully since the erasure. He is now earning his living selling Kralj Ulice, the newspaper sold by the homeless people.

Climber Garnbret defends bouldering World Champion title

HACHIOJI, Japan - Slovenian climbing phenomenon Janja Garnbret successfully defended her title of bouldering World Champion, taking gold at the championships in Japan's Hachioji. Silver went to Japanese veteran Akiyo Noguchi and bronze to British climber Shauna Coxsey. The 20-year-old, who won all six bouldering events of this year's World Cup season, has become the first female climber with two consecutive bouldering World Championship golds.

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13 Aug 2019, 02:32 AM

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Housing central topic of International Youth Day in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's youth organisations took the opportunity of International Youth Day to highlight housing as the key problem faced by new generations. They criticised a lack of action on the part of the government, saying the flawed housing policy, coupled with precarious and low-paying jobs, made it hard to become independent. Youth organisations are unhappy about the government's response to their calls, saying that all responsibility had been relegated to the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning. Otherwise, the young in Slovenia are mostly happy with their lives.

Šarec party extends lead in Delo poll

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's party regained ground in the latest poll commissioned by the newspaper Delo to increase the lead ahead of the opposition Democrats (SDS) to 2.6 percentage points. The Marjan Šarec List polled at 16.8%, up 2.2 percentage points from the month before, while the SDS kept its rating virtually unchanged at 14.2%. The coalition SocDems lost 0.6 percentage points to 7.2%, whereas the opposition New Slovenia gained 1.4 points to 6.7% to come ahead of the Left (6.5%).

Survey: Young women in Slovenia unhappy with their standard

LJUBLJANA - Less than half of young women in Slovenia are happy with their current standard of living and many are unhappy at work and ready to move abroad in search of better job opportunities, found a survey conducted among 500 women aged 20-35 years by the institute Nefiks. Only 35% of the women surveyed have a job agreeing with the level and type of their education. Almost 60% would prefer to work in the public sector due to greater job security. As many as 44% are not planning a family.

Realsters challenging cap on commissions at top court

LJUBLJANA - More than 60 real estate agencies asked the Constitutional Court to review a recently adopted bill that limits commission fees for leasing real estate and other costs which real estate agencies can charge their clients. According to Boštjan Udovič from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), the 66 agencies involved want the top court to review and stay provisions limiting service commissions. They argue the bill encroaches on the right to engage in free enterprise and the right to property, meaning it also violates the European Convention on Human Rights as well as EU law.

Perutnina Ptuj CEO says peddling Ukrainian poultry would be suicidal

LJUBLJANA - Perutnina Ptuj CEO Enver Šišić dismissed speculation in an interview with Delo that the Slovenian poultry producer would start using Ukrainian meat to sell it under the Perutnina Ptuj brand after being acquired by the Ukrainian MHP holding. He said that packaging Ukrainian meat under the Perutnina Ptuj brand would amount to suicide, noting that MHP had paid EUR 240 million for Pertunina Ptuj because it valued its business model, which means controlling production field to fork.

Slovenia in focus of Austria's largest art fair

VIENNA, Austria - Slovenia will be the country in focus at viennacontemporary 2019, the largest international art fair in Austria, which will take place in Vienna from 26 to 29 September. The fair will feature more than 100 galleries and 500 artists from 25 countries, providing a glimpse into the contemporary art scene in Central and Eastern Europe. In focus will be a state without territory, the NSK State in Time, an ongoing project launched by the Slovenian art collective Neue Slowenische Kunst.

Jazzinty brings top musicians to Novo Mesto

NOVO MESTO - The 20th Jazzinty festival will draw a number of acclaimed musicians to the town of Novo Mesto until Saturday. Workshops, a key feature of the festival, will be given by experienced mentors and world-renowned musicians pursuing new trends in jazz and improvisation. The festival will also feature concerts by base player Linda Oh, pianist Fabian Almazan and singer Michael Mayo, while the entire team of mentors will work on a project entitled A Different Point of View, their own take on classic jazz.

Slovenia Open kicks off on the coast

PORTOROŽ - The ATP Challenger Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open, the biggest international tennis tournament in the country, got under way in the coastal town Portorož, with the finals scheduled for Sunday. A total of 48 players will vie for the top prize which comes with US$50,000 cheque. Seven Slovenian tennis players will compete in the tournament, including top seed Aljaž Bedene, currently 90th in ATP rankings, and Blaž Rola, the third-seeded player.

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12 Aug 2019, 02:39 AM

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Swiss Limec Solution opens plant in Odranci

ODRANCI - The Swiss industrial company Limec Solution opened a plant in Odranci in NE Slovenia, which is expected to employ between 150 and 200 people in three to five years. Limec CNC will produce as much as 90% of the products which are currently made in Switzerland, German and Austria. In addition to Europe, Limec Solution, an international producer and system supplier with global manufacturing bases, also sells its products in China, Canada and Mexico. At the opening, director Hans Peter Strebel said that Limec Solution had decided for the Odranci location because they had been cooperating with Slovenian partners for more than 20 years. Limec Solution hopes that many locals who now work in Austria and Germany will look for work in the plant, promising that wages will be above the average.

Muslims in Slovenia celebrating Eid al-Adha

LJUBLJANA - A central ceremony marking Eid al-Adha or the Festival of the Sacrifice, one of the biggest religious holidays in Islam, was be held in Ljubljana's Kodeljevo Arena. The ceremony was addressed by Mufti Nedžad Grabus, with the start of prayers scheduled for 6.36am. The Muslim holiday provides an opportunity for believers to embark on a self-reflection journey and consider righting the wrongs they might have done to themselves or others, said the Muslim community in Slovenia. The Eid al-Adha celebrations start with pilgrims setting out on trips to Mecca and Medina.

Action on repatriation of Slovenians from Venezuela expected soon

LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for Slovenians Abroad has drawn up a proposal to repatriate persons of Slovenian descent from Venezuela, following calls, including in parliament, for a government decree to this effect. The government is expected to discuss it soon after the summer recess. Interior Ministry data puts the number of Slovenian citizens living there at 335, while the total number of people of Slovenian descent there is estimated at 1,000. Slovenian authorities have received 47 requests for repatriation after the start of the last crisis in the country.

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10 Aug 2019, 02:29 AM

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Slovenia's exports, imports up in first six months

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's trade in goods continues to grow, with exports in the January-June period amounting to EUR 16.83 billion, up 9.2% over the same period last year. Imports reached EUR 16.78 billion, a rise of 11.2%, which puts the country's export-import ratio at 100.3%, the Statistics Office said. Slovenia's exports to EU countries in the January-June period topped EUR 12.73 billion. Imports from EU members almost reached EUR 12.47 billion, and from non-EU countries EUR 4.32 billion. In June, exports and imports grew by 3.3% each year-on-year. Exports amounted to EUR 2.81 billion and imports to EUR 2.68 billion. The external trade surplus in June was the highest this year.

National councillor wants PM prosecuted over bear and wolf attacks

LJUBLJANA - National councillor Branko Tomažič filed criminal complainants against Environment Minister Simon Zajc and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec due to their failure to act in the face of bear and wolf attacks on domestic animals. Tomažič accused the two officials of negligence and too slow implementation of the emergency bill allowing the culling of the beasts. Šarec's office said the accussations were unfounded, as the government was actively engaged with the issue. The move comes after two commissions of the upper chamber called for faster implementation of the emergency bill on Thursday. Moreover, Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina joined the fray today by calling on the environment and agriculture ministries to join forces and find solutions to protect human lives.

Industrial output growth slowing down

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial output in the first half of 2019 grew by 3.7% compared to the same period in 2018, the slowest semi-annual growth figure in the past six years, while monthly data released by the Statistics Office shows output declining. In June output was down 1.6% compared to the month before, the second consecutive drop this year at the monthly level, while at the annual level, it increased by 1.1% - the slowest growth rate recorded this year. In the first half of 2019 output rose most significantly in manufacturing (by 3.9%), followed by mining (2.1%) and electricity and gas supply (1.1%).

Mercator selling a dozen shopping centres

LJUBLJANA - Retailer Mercator has initiated the sale of 13 shopping centres, one in Slovenia and twelve in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, as it continues implementing its strategy of offloading real estate to reduce debt. Having already sold ten Slovenian shopping centres to Austrian developer Supernova last year, Mercator is now selling its Koper mall, four properties in Croatia, six in Bosnia-Herzegovina and two in Serbia, Dnevnik reported. All the properties are being sold under the leaseback principle. The company had a financial debt of roughly EUR 667 million at the end of March, down EUR 148 million from the year before.

Youth trade union calls for improvements in apprenticeship programme

LJUBLJANA - Mladi Plus, the youth section of the ZSSS trade union confederation, called on the government to make it easier for the youth to enter the labour market. Talking to the press ahead of International Youth Day, observed on Monday, Mladi Plus union president Tea Jarc said that a better apprenticeship system could help. The union is suggesting that a web portal be set up to make accessible all the relevant information and that the mentorship system be overhauled so as to guarantee that the mentors have enough time for apprentices.

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09 Aug 2019, 02:47 AM

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Supreme Court sets important precedent in hate speech case

LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court set an important precedent in a case involving hate speech against the Roma by holding that public incitement to hatred, violence or intolerance is a crime not only when it threatens public peace and order, the way the legal provision has been interpreted until now, but also in case of threats, abusive language or insults as such. The case involves a comment posted by a Dolenjska man in February 2011 on the web portal of a local radio station. The court said that prosecution of public incitement to hatred, violence or intolerance did not protect only public peace and order but also human dignity.

Japan's foreign minister due in Slovenia next week

LJUBLJANA - Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono will visit Slovenia next Wednesday to meet President Borut Pahor and Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar. This will be the first visit of a Japanese foreign minister in Slovenia, which in itself shows that the two countries want to strengthen bilateral dialogue, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said. The visit will focus on bilateral cooperation in economy and science, as well as multilateral cooperation and international issues. Kono and Cerar will visit the Japanese Yaskawa robotics plant in the southeastern town of Kočevje, which opened in April. Moreover, they will also meet a Slovenian-Japanese business council in Kočevje.

Chemical waste company Kemis stops accepting waste

VRHNIKA - Hazardous waste processing company Kemis will decide within 15 days whether to appeal against a decision by building inspectors to remove the facilities it has built after it was hit by a devastating fire in 2017. Nevertheless, it will stop accepting waste today. The facilities Kemis renovated extensively after the May 2017 fire were found to have been built illegally. Kemis stopped receiving the waste of its business partners in Vrhnika a day after it received the decree to stop using the facilities immediately and remove them by 30 June 2020.

Qualified opinion issued for 2018 budget closing account

LJUBLJANA - Like in the past, the Court of Audit has issued a qualified opinion on the draft of the 2018 budget closing account and regularity of budget implementation, discovering salary and expenditure irregularities as well as failure to fully comply with regulations. "We think that certain errors and irregularities should be prevented in the future by changing systemic regulations, in particular those in the public finance act and accounting act, to provide more transparency in displaying performed transactions," the court said.

Lekarna Ljubljana restores information system after ransomware attack

LJUBLJANA - Lekarna Ljubljana, Slovenia's largest pharmacy chain with more than 50 units, was able to gradually restore its information system after a ransomware attack seriously crippled its operations for two days. The gradual reconnecting to the information system came after Monday's attack forced Lekarna Ljubljana to close all of its pharmacies on Tuesday. The details of the attack remain unclear, but Lekarna Ljubljana said the incident had been reported to the law enforcement authorities.

Ikea gets building permit for its shop in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Swedish furniture giant Ikea obtained a building permit for the shop it plans to build in Ljubljana's BTC City shopping district. Construction works are expected to start soon. Vladislav Lalić, regional property and expansion manager at Ikea South East Europe, said the construction would be conducted in several phases, but the store was expected to open about a year after the start of construction. Ikea is expected to open the shop in 2020. The project has been estimated at EUR 80m and is expected to create around 300 jobs.

Adacta sells part of its business to German company

LJUBLJANA - Adacta Holding, the parent company of a leading Slovenian ICT company, was revealed to have sold its Adacta Services Business, a leading Microsoft Dynamics, Qlik and Cornerstone partner in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, to BE-terna, a company owned by the German Deutsche Private Equity (DPE) fund. By acquiring a part of Adacta's business and its 300 employees, BE-terna Group is taking the first step to realizing its long-term business strategy to become the leading global IT service company, Adacta said in announcing the deal.

Nomago taking over Brežice peer to facilitate Croatia reach

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana-based coach group Nomago said it had signed an agreement to take over its Brežice-based counterpart Integral Brebus in a bid to expand its business in Croatia, where it wants to acquire at least 30% market share. In a written statement, Nomago said that the takeover was part of its strategy of geographic growth and expansion of Nomago InterCity links, occasional transfers, on-demand services and travel services. The transaction is expected to be finalised by the end of the year pending the approval of the competition watchdog.

Two biggest insurers taking over top private diagnostics centre

LJUBLJNA/BLED - Insurance group Sava Re has acquired Diagnostični Center Bled, the country's biggest private medical diagnostics centre. Sava Re signed a purchase agreement for an 80% stake in the centre with Cypriot company Cinxro Holdings today, thus acquiring 100% of voting rights. The value of the deal was not revealed. It also signed an agreement with Zavarovalnica Triglav, the biggest insurance group in Slovenia, under which Triglav will be able to acquire a 40% stake in the centre, or 50% of voting rights. This transaction is pending regulatory approval.

Demand for workers in Q2 strongest in construction

LJUBLJANA - Demand for new workers in the April-June period was strongest in construction, when the sector's job vacancy rate - showing how many vacancies were advertised by employers - reached 6.2%. Around 3,800 vacancies were advertised in construction, which was followed by manufacturing (over 3,700) and commerce (over 2,500), latest Statistics Office data show. Meanwhile, the overall job vacancy rate decreased by 0.2 of a percentage point to 2.3% over the previous quarter and by 0.3 points over the second quarter in 2018.

Maribor in a two-goal hole after first leg with Rosenborg

MARIBOR - Maribor are in a two-goal hole after the first leg of the third round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League after losing to Norway's Rosenborg 1:3 at home on Wednesday. The Slovenian football champions are looking at a virtually impossible mission of advancing to the last round as they are hosted by Rosenborg in Trondheim next week. All goals were scored in the second half, with Rosenborg's Mike Jensen sealing the deal with a goal in the 71st minute. The return leg with the Norwegian champions is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Freediver Artnik shares world record, title with arch-rival

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Slovenian freediver Alenka Artnik has set another world record and won the world championship title in monofin, but she has to share both with her Italian rival Alessia Zecchini. At the Freediving World Championships in Honduras, Artnik dove to 113 metres, improving the world record set by the Italian just a week earlier by one metre. But Zecchini struck back, like Artnik plunging to a depth of 113 metres.

Guide to Slovenian Mountain Trail now available in English

LJUBLJANA - One of the oldest long-distance trails in Europe, the Slovenian Mountain Trial is hugely popular among Slovenians and increasingly also among foreign hikers, who will now be able to hit it with an English guide book in their pocket. More than 10,350 people have completed the entire 617-kilometre trail traversing Slovenia, among them 866 foreigners, the Slovenian Alpine Association (PZS) said in launching the English version the guidebook.

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08 Aug 2019, 02:04 AM

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PM Šarec to pay official visit to Serbia

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec will pay his first official visit to Serbia on 27 August for talks with his counterpart Ana Brnabić, President Aleksandar Vučić and Speaker Maja Gojković. President Borut Pahor was the last senior Slovenian official to pay an official visit to Serbia, accompanied by a sizeable business delegation in January. Slovenia and Serbia have well developed and largely problem-free relations. Since 2013, the two governments have also met for several joint sessions.

Commissioner candidate Lenarčič meets von der Leyen

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Janez Lenarčič, the candidate for the Slovenian member of the European Commission, held informal introductory talks with the newly elected Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels today. The pair talked about the challenges that await the new Commission and about the importance of respect for the EU's fundamental values, Slovenia's permanent representation in Brussels said in a press release.

Govt extends auxiliary police deployment

LJUBLJANA - The government decided to extend the deployment of auxiliary police to help the regular force cope with a spike in illegal migration on the Schengen border with Croatia and with other duties. In line with today's decision, auxiliary police will be deployed until the end of the year to help patrol the border and stand in for absent regular police officers. Under the valid legislation, auxiliary police may be called in for up to 30 days in a calendar year.

Mired in controversy, rail tender annulled

LJUBLJANA - The company managing construction of the new Divača-Koper rail track annulled a public tender for the first of several bridges on the new track after weeks of public controversy that renewed concern about the mega project going off the rails financially. "It has turned out that the cheapest bidder was not the best," 2TDK boss Dušan Zorko told the press after the company determined the selected bidder had apparently forged its prior experience in building such infrastructure. The tender to build a 170-metre bridge over Glinščica Valley will now be repeated as soon as possible.

Lekarna Ljubljana target of ransomware attack

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's largest pharmacy chain, Lekarna Ljubljana, was the target of a ransomware attack on Monday, which temporarily incapacitated its information system and forced the chain to close for business on Tuesday. The pharmacies reopened today but they have so far been able to issue prescription drugs based on paper prescriptions only. The system is expected to be up and running normally again later today. No further details about the attack have been available, but the national e-Health system has apparently not been affected.

SPIRIT get full fledged director

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Ajda Cuderman as the director of the SPIRIT investment promotion agency. Cuderman, who has been served as acting director since February, will start her five-year term on 16 August, the government said. Before taking over at SPIRIT, Cuderman had worked at energy company Petrol and sales consulting group Mercuri International.

NGOs funding at nearly EUR 1bn last year

LJUBLJANA - More than 27,000 Slovenian NGOs saw a combined revenue of EUR 918 million last year, up by EUR 44.55 million from 2017, shows a report released by the national NGO umbrella network CNVOS. As many as 17% of NGOs reported no income last year, and another 35% got less than EUR 5,000, with the average per an NGO standing at EUR 34,400. Most of the funds from donations, membership fees and revenue from products and services. Just over a third, some EUR 333 million, was provided by the state.

Spatial plan procedures delay BSW sawmill investment

BRASLOVČE - Scottish sawmiller BSW Timber still has not been able to start with the construction of what will be the biggest sawmill in Slovenia. The main reason has been delays in the adoption of the needed spatial plans, which Braslovče Mayor Tomaž Žohar expects will be ready by the end of the year. Providing an update on the EUR 40 million investment in Gomilsko near Celje, Žohar said the Institute for the Protection of Natural Heritage was conducting studies in the area slated for the sawmill.

Unicredit Slovenia posts slightly higher H1 profit

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian subsidiary of the Italian banking group Unicredit posted EUR 16 million in consolidated profit in the first half of the year, a marginal increase of 0.3% on the same period a year ago, shows the annual report released by the parent bank. Unicredit Banka Slovenija and Unicredit Leasing saw their operating profit increase by almost 6% to EUR 19 million in the same period. Operating revenue rose by 7.2% to EUR 42 million and net interest revenue was up 1.3% to EUR 23 million.

Kemis's new facilities declared illegal construction

LJUBLJANA/VRHNIKA - The facilities that chemical waste processing company Kemis has extensively renovated after a major fire hit the plant in 2017 have been found to be illegal construction. Building inspectors ordered Kemis to stop using the facilities immediately and remove them by 30 June 2020. While no building permit is required for renovation work, Kemis should have obtained it for a newly-built underground water reservoir, which is part of an upgraded anti-fire system.


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07 Aug 2019, 02:03 AM

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Civil initiative says conditions at asylum centre unbearable

LJUBLJANA - A civil initiative providing advocacy for asylum seekers warned about allegedly unbearable conditions at Ljubljana's Vič Asylum Centre, accusing some security guards of intimidation and even alleging some of them are involved in organised smuggling of asylum seekers. Members of the Fight for Freedom initiative said that asylum seekers were accommodated in small, cramped rooms, get only the most basic medical services and have practically no access to public transportation. They also criticised lengthy procedures to get asylum or a work permit granted.

Two passenger train cars derail at Rimske Toplice

RIMSKE TOPLICE - Two passenger train cars derailed at the Rimske Toplice train station in the morning. There were no injuries, but the railway line between Zidani Most and Maribor, a major artery for international passenger and cargo traffic, was closed until the evening. The accident came just days after construction works started on and around the station. It is unclear at this point whether the construction works had anything to do with the derailing. Unofficial sources say that the accident could have been caused by a train car malfunction.

Businessman sought by Interpol willing to return home

LJUBLJANA - Sergej Racman, an erstwhile successful businessman who is wanted in Slovenia under an Interpol Red Notice alert for his alleged role in a prostitution ring, has expressed willingness to make himself available for proceedings running against him, provided he is allowed to preserve his dignity. "Racman is not on the run or avoiding criminal procedure to avoid his accountability in any way," his lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar said. She added that Racman did not report to law enforcement authorities because he had been living abroad since 2010, and that the European arrest warrant and the Interpol Red Notice were unnecessary.

Decision on TEŠ coal imports impact study to be re-examined

LJUBLJANA - The Environment Agency will have to examine again whether the Šoštanj power station (TEŠ) requires an environmental impact study for importing coal, after it decided it did need one. According to the newspaper Večer, the Environment Ministry has annulled the agency's initial decision in response to an appeal by environmental NGOs Focus, Greenpeace Slovenija, PIC and Umanotera. The NGOs disagreed with the the agency's decision that it was unnecessary to examine the impact of the imported coal on the environment.

Ljubljana pharmacies shut down by computer system failure

LJUBLJANA - Lekarna Ljubljana, Slovenia's largest pharmacy chain, has been forced to close down all of its shops for the day due to computer system problems. The city-owned chain would not explicate on the details of the failure, but they expect the pharmacies to remain closed until the end of opening hours on Tuesday. They hope to be able to open at least the round-the-clock unit situated next to the emergency department of the UKC Ljubljana hospital by around 8pm.

Government picks Expo 2020 pavilion constructor

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's pavilion at the global show Expo 2020 in Dubai will be constructed by the Riko engineering company and the KTNK architectural design firm. The project's value is estimated at EUR 2.45 million excluding value-added tax, according to the government's public procurement web portal. The government's call for applications set the upper limit for the contract at EUR 2.49 million. Riko and KTNK were the only ones to submit their offer before the deadline. They will have to design and construct the 15-metre-high pavilion in line with the chosen thematic concept. The Ljubljana-based Riko, managed by Janez Škrabec, will cooperate with architect Andrej Kotnik.

EU survey: Slovenians euro's strongest supporters

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The latest Eurobarometer survey has shown Slovenians are the strongest supporters of the euro is the entire EU, with as many as 88% of those polled favouring it. Slovenia is followed by Estonia and Portugal (both 85%) and by Finland and Ireland (both 84%), while support by 81% of respondents was recorded in Germany. The single currency enjoys the support of 62% of all EU citizens, the same as last autumn and the highest level since spring 2007.

Slovenia part of European e-mobility project

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's national grid operator ELES is involved in an EU-subsidised project designed to test how various innovative electric mobility solutions function in practice. The project is led by the French car maker Renault, while ELES is a coordinator in the part of the project concerning the electricity transmission system, ELES has said.Partners from eight countries will test seven solutions in five demonstration areas in the urban, peri-urban and rural environments.

Maribor and Pohorje increasingly popular tourist destination

MARIBOR - Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, and the nearby Pohorje hills have not been at the top of tourists' to-do lists, but this seems to be slowly changing. In the first half of the year, more than 125,000 people visited the area, a 17% increase over the same period last year, the Maribor Pohorje Tourism Institute said. The results surpass the growth recorded on national level by 11 percentage points. The number of tourists who visited the city went up somewhat less than in the Maribor and Pohorje destination on the whole, by 7%.

New milestone set in Slovenian golfing

LJUBLJANA/LONDON, UK - Katja Pogačar, the best Slovenian golfer, has become the first Slovenian to make it to one of the five major golf tournaments in the world. In what is her third year as a pro, Pogačar appeared at the British Open last week. She ended two strokes short of the cut but is feeling upbeat about future prospects, including for the Olympics. The 24-year-old made it to the prestigious tournament, which reserved EUR 2.7 million in prize money for the female golfers this year, on account of placing 27th in the European tour rankings.

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06 Aug 2019, 02:28 AM

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NSi wants a new Slovenia, to position itself in the centre

LJUBLJANA - Opposition New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin presented the party's plans for the autumn congress, announcing an "overhauled and fresh" platform, and noting that the party was still willing to cooperate with the minority government. The party wants to position itself in the centre as it feels this is where it belongs. Speaking at a press conference, which also marked the NSi's 19th anniversary, Tonin again expressed the readiness of the right-leaning conservative party to cooperate in projects with the ruling minority coalition. Tonin also said the NSi had drawn up a potential interpellation motion against Education Minister Jernej Pikalo over the legislative changes cutting funds for private primary schools.

End of fixed-term jobs pushes up unemployment total in July

LJUBLJANA - The number of jobless registered with the Slovenian Employment Service rose by 1.6% in July to 71,850, mostly because their fixed-term contracts expired. The figure was still down 5.5% year on year. A total of 6,210 were registered as freshly unemployed in July, 50.4% more than in June, but 3.9% fewer than in July 2018. Employers posted 13,990 vacancies in July, 15.8% more than in June but 3.9% fewer than a year ago. The demand was highest for manual workers in manufacturing and for pre-school and primary school teachers.

Four human smugglers get 11 years in jail

KOPER - Four men from Koper have been sentenced to a total of more than 11 years in jail for transporting illegal migrants who crossed into Slovenia from Croatia in the south, a regional newspaper reported. According to Primorske Novice, the group went into the business of smuggling migrants early in 2018, joinig forces with a Croat who got in touch with a Koper man, now aged 29. The latter recruited three more men from the area, aged between 28 and 35. The group did their business as part of a criminal ring, whose other members gathered illegal migrants in the Zagreb area and organised their transport to the border with Slovenia.

Gen Energija management board gets second member

LJUBLJANA - The management board of Gen Energija, the state-owned energy utility that owns the Slovenian half of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, has been expanded by a member, as director general Martin Novšak was joined by Danijel Levičar at the beginning of August. Levičar, a management board member at subsidiary Gen-I, was appointed business director by the supervisors in July. Gen Energija had had a single management board member in Novšak for 14 years, while state assets custodian Slovenia Sovereign Holding has been striving for at least two-member boards in state-owned companies.

Yield on Slovenia's long-term bonds drops below zero

LJUBLJANA/LONDON, UK - Slovenia's 10-year bonds have recently traded at sub-zero rates on the secondary market for the first time ever, whereas the country had a hard time selling its bonds at as high a rate as 7% during the financial crisis in 2013. The yield on Slovenia's 10-year bond dropped below zero on Friday, dropping further to minus 0.06% today, the business daily Finance reported, quoting Bloomberg. The drop to the negative territory is part of a broader trend of falling yields for euro-denominated state bonds witnessed over the past days.

SKB Group profit up 40% in H1

LJUBLJANA - The banking SKB Group generated EUR 34.2 million in net profit in the first half of 2019, which is 40% more than in the same period last year. This is due to good operating results and the easing of provisions and impairments. The group, comprising the bank and leasing arms SKB Leasing and SKB Leasing Select and about to be sold by the French group Societe Generale to the Hungarian OTP Bank Group, saw its operating profit rise by 18% to EUR 31.3 million. SKB Banka kept a 10% market share in the segment of loans.

Jure Cekuta, painter-cum-arms deal middleman, has died

LJUBLJANA - Jure Cekuta, a painter best known as one of the few individuals convicted of corruption in one of the biggest arms scandals in Slovenia, has died aged 67. Sentenced to four years and four months in prison in 2014, Cekuta spent the last years of his life in jail. He was temporarily released on health grounds last month. He was one of two persons in the Patria scandal to ever be found guilty in Slovenia, with several other trials, including the main trial involving opposition leader Janez Janša, either struck down or becoming statute-barred.

Freediver Artnik reaches new milestone

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Slovenian freediver Alenka Artnik has reached a new milestone. Plunging 111 meters into the Caribbean with a monofin, she beat the world record in the discipline by four metres to become the first woman to descend bellow 110 metres. Artnik made the dive in the warm-up for the World Freediving Championship taking place on the Island of Roatan in Honduras. Artnik is the main contender for gold, followed closely by Italy's Alessia Zechinni, the previous record-holder.

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05 Aug 2019, 03:09 AM

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Digitalisation well under way at Krško N-plant

KRŠKO - The Krško Nuclear Power Plant has been digitalising its processes as part of safety upgrades launched in the wake of the 2012 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster which are now over half way through. NEK said that digitalisation was being implemented in all areas, which will allow optimal maintenance of the plant and lower operating costs. Most of the company's business processes have been digitised.

GKN Driveline ups sales by a third, but profit down

ZREČE - GKN Driveline, a British-owned car industry supplier, increased its production by almost a third last year to generate EUR 107 million in revenue, up 30% compared to 2017. On the other hand, net profit was down by 17% to EUR 4.8 million, the company said in the annual report. The company increased sales mostly on account of sales outside the group.

Unitur ups revenue, ends 2018 in red

ZREČE - Unitur, the tourism branch of tools maker Unior, generated EUR 19.7 million in revenue last year, 5% more than in 2017 and nearly 3% above plans, the annual business report shows. The operator of the Rogla ski resort and the nearby Terme Zreče spa was EUR 750,000 in the red at the end of 2018, 25% less than the year before. The revenue generated by Terme Zreče accounted for just over a half of total revenue and was up by nearly 7%.

BSH appliances maker's profit, revenue down in 2018

NAZARJE - BSH Hišni Aparati, the Slovenian subsidiary of the Bosch and Siemens Home Appliance Group, saw its profits, revenue and the number of employees decrease in 2018 compared to the year before. A drop in business performance is mostly a result of product withdrawals. The company generated EUR 318 million in revenue last year, 8% less than in 2017, while its net profit decreased by almost EUR 750,000 to EUR 11.4 million, BSH Hišni Aparati says in its 2018 business report.

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03 Aug 2019, 02:37 AM

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Slovenian banking system stable, stress tests show

LJUBLJANA - Macro stress tests conducted by the Slovenian central bank have shown that the country's banking system is stable. "In the baseline as well as stress scenario, the Slovenian banking system has been shown to have appropriate capital adequacy," Banka Slovenije said. "Slovenian banks are relatively well capitalised and have improved the quality of their credit portfolios, which is the consequence of successful reduction of non-performing exposure in recent years," the central bank said.

Slovenia regrets demise of INF nuclear treaty

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry expressed Slovenia's regret over the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty between Russia and the US. "Slovenia is committed to maintaining and strengthening effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons for mass destruction," the ministry said. "We regret the ending of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which was caused by Russia's failure to meet the pact's commitments," said the ministry on Twitter.

Erjavec challenges critics to party leadership contest

LJUBLJANA - Karl Erjavec has decided to bid for yet another term as the leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at the 17 January congress, challenging his critics to face him off in a leadership contest. Erjavec, who has been running DeSUS since 2005, told the STA that in his re-election bid he would campaign for the party's return to it roots, that is the fight for pensioners, disabled and elderly. Analysts see Erjavec's re-election bid, which is expected to be uncontested, as the only alternative for his political survival, but disagree over whether DeSUS will survive beyond the next election.

NSi wants transparency of state-funded infrastructure projects

LJUBLJANA - The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) protested against what it believes are inadmissible practices in major state-funded infrastructure projects and requested a session of the parliamentary Public Finance Oversight Commission to ask for explanations and plans from the responsible officials. "We have lately again witnessed revelations of non-transparent management of major state-funded infrastructure projects," NSi MP Aleksander Reberšek told the press as he presented the request.

Minister Zajc calls for coexistence between humans and wolves

GORENJA VAS - Environment Minister Simon Zajc called for coexistence between people and wolves as he visited the Cerkljansko region, where wolf attacks on livestock have become increasingly frequent. He pointed to measures that protect humans and their property from wolves. "Our task is to enable coexistence, which means that people do not live in fear, that there are possibilities for development and that we have sufficient wolf population," the minister said.

Koper hosting delegation from the Japanese port city Nagoya

KOPER - The operator of Slovenia's sole maritime port of Koper hosted a delegation from Nagoya, the largest Japanese port in terms of transshipment, for talks on how to expand cooperation. Koper has no direct commercial maritime link with Japan, while it does cooperate with the Japanese Ocean Network Express. The delegation featuring more than 30 representatives of the public and private sectors, the port of Nagoya and the chamber of commerce and industry from the city will also visit Italy and Croatia.

End of Europa League for Domžale, Olimpija

LJUBLJANA/MALMÖ, Sweden - Slovenian sides Olimpija and Domžale failed to advance in the second-tier Europa League, narrowly losing on aggregate despite both securing 2:2 draws in the first leg. Olimpija lost 0:1 against Turkish club Malatyaspor on Thursday, while Domžale lost 3:2 against Malmö. Meanwhile, Maribor have made it to round three of the Champions League and if they do not advance they will get their chance in the Europa League.

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