Ljubljana related

20 May 2022, 05:04 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

New coalition committed to unity and consensus, PM to have final say

LJUBLJANA - The partners in the emerging ruling coalition will work hard to reach consensus both within the government and parliament, but when it proves elusive the Freedom Movement as the largest partner will tip the scales and Robert Golob as the PM will have the final say, under a protocol to be signed along with the coalition agreement. The protocol also sets out that the three parties - the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats and the Left, will be required to refrain from making statements in public "in contradiction to those of the prime minister and other government members".

Slovenia told by Russia to reduce diplomatic staff in Moscow

LJUBLJANA - Russia demanded that Slovenia reduce the number of staff at its embassy in Moscow by four within ten days, a move that comes a month and a half after Slovenia demanded an 80% cut in the number of staff at the Russian Embassy in Ljubljana due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Slovenia said it was negatively surprised by the move.

Report: Govt revokes arms deal in secret to make donation to Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - The government has taken a secret decision to revoke a deal to sell Yugoslav-made mechanised infantry combat vehicles in order to donate them to Ukraine, the newspaper Dnevnik reported on Wednesday. Slovenia has been trying to sell the decommissioned BVP M-80A vehicles since 2015. S Lux, the company commissioned to sell the vehicles, has brought legal action with the Administrative Court asking for a temporary injunction. The supreme state prosecution and the Court of Audit are looking into the matter.

Pahor discusses United States of Europe as he starts Poland visit

WARSAW, Poland - President Borut Pahor began his official three-day visit to Poland at the University of Warsaw, discussing Europe's future with the students, and calling for a new convention on the future of Europe that would gradually lead to a United States of Europe. Considering the European idea as the most brilliant political concept ever conceived, Pahor said we must be brave and proud to preserve and develop it, his office said.

SDS deputy group proposes changes to two healthcare acts

LJUBLJANA - The deputy group of the Democrats (SDS) continues to file legislative proposals after being relegated to the opposition, with the latest proposals dealing with two healthcare laws, the healthcare and health insurance act and the health services act. They aim to reduce the administrative burden on general practitioners and to ensure the continuity of treatment of patients at concessionaires. Under the proposals, the one-off possibility of an employee's absence from work due to illness without the GP issuing a fit note would be maintained.

Analyst says SDS wants to stay in power and control RTVS

LJUBLJANA - Public opinion analyst Andraž Zorko sees in the Democrats' (SDS) proposing a consultative referendum on changes to the government structure and the act on the RTV Slovenija "a pragmatic goal of staying in power, and having power over the public broadcaster for as long as possible." The director of the pollster Valicon assessed that, when it comes to the changes to the government act, the SDS will be somewhat successful.

Pushback against candidate for home minister over migrant treatment

LJUBLJANA - Several civil society groups dealing with migrants, including the NGO Infokolpa Civil Initiative, have denounced the candidacy of Tatjana Bobnar for interior minister due to pushbacks that police conducted while she was the police commissioner in 2018-2020. Saša Hajzler, a member of the NGO, said that if Bobnar was appointed minister, she should apologise and lay out a clear strategy of how to rectify the injustices. Bobnar responded by saying she understood the protest statement as a voice of democratic society and efforts to change things for the better, which also reflects her striving.

Freedom Movement to get almost half a million euro in budget funds this year

LJUBLJANA - Fifteen parties that have won at least one percent of the vote in the 24 April general election are eligible for a total of EUR 1,733,717 in budget funding this year, with the election winner Freedom Movement to get EUR 486,152, shows data released by the National Assembly on Wednesday. Apart from the five parties that made it to parliament, budget funds will also be paid to ten non-parliamentary parties.

Krka group posts record Q1 net profit

NOVO MESTO - The Krka group posted EUR 432.5 million in sales revenue in the first quarter of the year, up 9% year-on-year. Net profit rose by 5% to EUR 90.7 million, the highest ever for a first quarter, the drug maker said. Sales were increased in all six sales regions and in most of the company's key markets, as well as in all product and service groups," said Jože Colarič, Krka's CEO. Accounting for a third of total sales or EUR 146.7 million, the group's largest sales region was East Europe, where turnover increased by 11%. The AGM will be held on 7 July, and a higher dividend payout has been proposed.

Insurer Triglav's group net profit up by 25% in first quarter

LJUBLJANA - Zavarovalnica Triglav, Slovenia's largest insurance company, posted a group net profit of EUR 33.2 million for the first quarter of 2022, a year-on-year increase of 25%. Revenue grew by 12% to EUR 443 million despite what the company described as a challenging situation. Consolidated profit before tax, amounting to EUR 38.1 million, was 20% higher than in the same period last year, with its growth stemming from underwriting activities and own asset management.

Intereuropa increases net profit by 12% to EUR 1.3m in Q1

LJUBLJANA - The logistics group Intereuropa generated EUR 47.1 million in sales revenue in the first quarter of the year, which is 19% more than in the same period last year and 13% above plans. Net profit was up 12% to EUR 1.3 million, which is 29% above plans, show unaudited results published by Intereuropa.

Insurance group Sava Re reports 29% lower profit

LJUBLJANA - Sava Re, Slovenia's second largest insurance group, posted a 29% drop in net profit in the first quarter, to EUR 16.8 million, reflecting a return to normal post-Covid claims frequency in the automotive segment. Operating revenue remained level at EUR 177.8 million. In the first quarter, the group wrote EUR 231.7 million in gross premiums, up 7.7% year on year, Sava Re said. The combined ratio, a key insurance industry profitability benchmark, deteriorated to 90.8% from 82.9% in the same period last year.

Alfi fund, NLB bank take majority stake in Sportina

LJUBLJANA - Sportina, a large clothing retailer, has been sold to the distressed assets arm of the Alfi fund and NLB bank in a transaction reportedly valued at EUR 15 million. While Sportina did not reveal the details of the deal, business daily Finance recently reported the deal was worth EUR 15 million, which includes a partial debt-to-equity swap and additional loans to the company. Alfi took a 75% stake and NLB 15%, with the rest in the hands of existing creditors.

ZZZS notes problems in implementation of long-term care act

LJUBLJANA - The public health insurance fund has warned about difficulties in the implementation of the long-term care act, which it sees as "internally inconsistent" and thus largely unimplementable at the beginning of 2023, as envisaged. Not all basic conditions for its implementation have been secured by the state, either. The statement came as the management board of the Health Insurance Institute (ZZZS) was acquainted today with the latest report on the implementation of the act, which entered into force more than four months ago.

War in Ukraine affects Slovenia's self-sufficiency

BRASLOVČE - A round-table discussion on self-sufficiency has heard that the war in Ukraine has affected Slovenia's food self-sufficiency. The war has led to a significant rise in the prices of some agricultural products, while farm-gate prices are lagging behind the rise in the prices of raw materials. Slovenia is currently self-sufficient in milk, beef, poultry and eggs, Agriculture Ministry State Secretary Aleš Irgolič said at the panel discussion at a congress of entrepreneurs of the Savinja region.

Death toll of explosion at chemical factory Melamin rises to six

LJUBLJANA - One of the two persons being treated in hospital for severe injuries sustained in last week's explosion at chemical company Melamin has died, the Ljubljana Police Deportment said. The death toll of what is the worst industrial accident in Slovenia's history has thus increased to six. The explosion happened in Kočevje, south, last Thursday.

Covid situation better still, Slovenia no longer wholly dark red on ECDC map

LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - A total of 407 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Wednesday, two-thirds of the figure reported a week ago, and one patient with Covid-19 died, data released by the Health Ministry shows. Slovenia is also no longer wholly dark red on the Covid-19 colour-coded map of Europe of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), as the eastern half of the country was downgraded to red. Slovenia had been fully dark red since 23 September 2021.

Special setting for adaptation of unique Margaret Atwood piece

LJUBLJANA - Penelopiad, a theatre adaptation of Margaret Atwood's eponymous 2005 novella, will be put on stage in the Devil's Courtyard of the Križanke open-air theatre on 29 May, a unique setting that the authors say befits the unique literary piece. Directed by Livija Pandur, the play is a co-production between the SNG Drama and the Festival Ljubljana. There will be five performances between 29 May and 23 June. The role of Penelope is played by Polona Juh, one of the most renowned actors in Slovenia.

Environment-themed exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art

LJUBLJANA - The Museum of Contemporary Art in Metelkova, Ljubljana, launched a group exhibition tonight in which artists are looking for a way out of an apparently hopeless state of environmental and social cataclysm. The display Emergency Exit examines how both postwar neo-avant-garde artistic practices and current environmental initiatives seek ways to survive in a system affected by the collapsed structure of the ecosystem.

19 May 2022, 06:21 AM

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Golob's government formation plans upset by SDS

LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) tabled a motion to call a referendum on amendments to the government act proposed by the incoming ruling coalition to accommodate for the changes they plan in the government makeup. The move was to delay the formation of a new government, but the prospective prime minister, Robert Golob, said he would stick to the plan to form a government by 3 June. The ministerial posts will be redistributed to match the existing government act, while the candidates left without portfolios will be appointed state secretaries. The cabinet will be changed according to Golob's original plan later on.

Golob advocates employee involvement in response to criticism

LJUBLJANA - Robert Golob, the leader of the Freedom Movement and the likeliest new prime minister, said the incoming coalition sought to ensure employee involvement as he responded to criticism that the coalition agreement would push businesses into a corner. "A system under which the employer is the master whom the worker must unconditionally obey, and under which the worker has no say is a system of serfs; we do not want to be a country of serfs and we will not be," Golob said.

Slovenia supports decision by Sweden, Finland to join NATO

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry expressed Slovenia's full support for the decision of Sweden and Finland to join NATO, labelling the two countries as the closest partners of the alliance. "NATO's door must remain open to European countries that want to join and meet the criteria for membership," it said. The two countries' move was also hailed by President Borut Pahor and Tanja Fajon, the leader of the Social Democrats (SD), who is tipped to become Slovenia's next foreign minister. Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, announced his party would vote against Finland's and Sweden's membership when a vote came up on the new government, but would abstain in the vote on the same matter in parliament.

Govt proposes additional recalls of ambassadors

LJUBLJANA - The outgoing government proposed the recall of Slovenia's ambassadors to Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, Australia, Japan and Poland in what continues to be a series of replacements at some of the country's top diplomatic posts. The proposal will be now considered by President Borut Pahor. Under the proposal, the terms of Slovenian ambassadors in these countries would end on 31 July. The proposals are as a rule rubber-stamped by the head of state.

New military strategy in the making

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will get a new military strategy to pursue flexible deterrence, integrated response and persistent resilience as the main guidelines. The outgoing government got acquainted with the document, which the Defence Ministry said would define the implementation of military defence, and thus fill the gap between strategic documents. The strategy identifies Russia and China as rival great powers, which is broadly in line with akin strategic documents of the EU and NATO.

SDS seeks referendum on own RTV Slovenija bill

LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) filed a motion to call a consultative referendum on the amendments to the RTV Slovenija act that the party submitted itself on Friday. The motion will delay the final decision on the amendments as parliament cannot vote on the referendum motion in less than 30 days. This also means that a rival bill put forward by the emerging coalition led by the Freedom Movement will have to wait until the SDS-sponsored bill is off the agenda. The SDS's proposal is to make the licence fee for the public broadcaster voluntary with the citizens deciding how much they want to pay.

New parliamentary speaker wants to raise level of communication

LJUBLJANA - National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič told the STA she knew how to "leave her political convictions at the door" and pledged to be the first among equals to listen to all MPs. She believes that MPs should realise they are in parliament to serve people, not to "put on reality shows". The new speaker hopes that the coalition and opposition will find common ground during the new term of parliament, but is aware that this is a long process.

Farmers hail choice of Irena Šinko for agriculture minister

LJUBLJANA - Farmer representatives welcomed the choice of Irena Šinko as the candidate for agriculture minister. The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry said it was "positive surprise" as she has the expertise. Farmers' Trade Union boss Anton Medved said that Šinko had been very principled as the director of the Farmland and Forest Fund, and they expect her to act in the same manner as minister. Agrarian economist Emil Erjavec said Šinko "is the best thing that could have happened to Slovenian agriculture." However, they noted a lot would depend on the new government's broader agriculture policy and her political clout.

SocDem members endorse entry into coalition

LJUBLJANA - The members of the Social Democrats (SD) have endorsed the party's decision to enter the Robert Golob-led coalition with 99.9% of votes in favour, said the party, which will have four ministries in the new government. Party leader Tanja Fajon said the party had succeeded in including its key priorities in the coalition agreement. "We've achieved a clear break with how the current government has operated," she was quoted as saying in Tuesday's press release.

SD vice president Nemec confirmed as MEP to replace Fajon

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly confirmed the appointment of Social Democrats (SD) vice president Matjaž Nemec as member of the European Parliament. He will take the seat vacated by the SD leader Tanja Fajon as she was elected to the National Assembly in the 24 April general election. Nemec came in third among the SD's candidates in the 2019 European Parliament election.

Red shoes galore in parliament after attacks on speaker

LJUBLJANA - Red pumps, red sandals and red trainers could be seen a lot in parliament today as female members of the future coalition parties expressed solidarity with Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič, who became the target on insults on social media over her outfit at Friday's maiden session of parliament. It was Klakočar Zupančič's choice of red high heels that she wore on Friday that triggered insulting, sexist and vulgar comments on social media. Her colleagues supported her by wearing red shoes today.

Slovenian property market with a record year in 2021

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian property market saw a record year in 2021 in terms of increase in prices and the number of transactions involving land for residential buildings, with the commercial property market also being revived. The Surveying and Mapping Authority reported more than 37,000 transactions worth a total of EUR 2.9 billion. The number of transactions in apartments and houses increased by about 20% last year compared to 2020 and was higher than the figure for the pre-epidemic year 2019.

Consumer association to sue bank over zero floor

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Consumers' Association intends to bring a class action against the bank Sparkasse because they find it unacceptable that the bank deems the interest rate on a loan to be zero if Euribor goes negative. The organisation is urging borrowers at other banks who made variable-rate loan payments in 2015-2022 to join the case. In another class action against Sparkasse, the organisation successfully defended the rights of Sparkasse borrowers after the bank did not take into account the actual negative Euribor rates.

Early-stage entrepreneurs showing great deal of resilience

MARIBOR - The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey shows that early-stage entrepreneurs in Slovenia have shown a great deal of resilience during crisis, as the total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased. Every other Slovenian is convinced that good business opportunities will show up in the next six months. More than 68% of Slovenian respondents said that an entrepreneurial career is desirable, while almost 86% of them believe that successful entrepreneurs are respected in society, which places Slovenia at the top in Europe.

DEM gets building permit for geothermal power plant

MARIBOR - DEM, the company managing power stations on the river Drava, has been granted a building permit for a geothermal power plant at a wellbore in Čentiba in Prekmurje, the only Slovenian region with some gas and oil. The plant will serve as a demonstration project encouraging the production of geothermal energy. The first of its kind in Slovenia, the project aims to use the geothermal energy potential of a 3,000-metre dry, unproductive wellbore near the town Lendava, northeast.

Information Commissioner concerned over transparency, access to public info in 2021

LJUBLJANA - The Information Commissioner received 639 complaints concerning access to public information in 2021, which is 74 more than the year before, shows a report submitted to parliament. The number of complaints regarding the implementation of coronavirus restrictions, public healthcare and public spending rose significantly. The number of media complaints is also worrying, the commissioner said, stressing that this showed that media requests were not being responded to.

Covid numbers continue to decline

LJUBLJANA - The number of new Covid cases decreased by 125 in weekly comparison to 541 on Tuesday. The number of patients hospitalised due to Covid-19 was also down by four in the last day, while one more patient died, shows Health Ministry data. The 14-day case notification rate decreased by 52 to 382.

Convicted sexual offender caught in Cambodia

LJUBLJANA - Jani Kokot, a Slovenian citizen convicted of child sexual abuse, was caught and arrested in Cambodia last weekend and deported to Slovenia after being on the run for years, police said on Facebook. Kokot was found guilty by the Nova Gorica court of sexually assaulting a person under 15 years multiple times between 2008 and 2021 while also producing pornographic photos and videos.

18 May 2022, 04:13 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Talks with Germany on military gear swap continue

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defence Minister Matej Tonin acknowledged that talks with Germany for a swap under which it would send Yugoslav-era tanks to Ukraine in exchange for more modern German armoured vehicles have stalled, but he said negotiations were continuing. "Slovenia has done its part. The equipment we intend to send to Ukraine is ready for transport. We've notified the Germans in writing what kind of equipment we want, now we're waiting for feedback from the German side," he said. Slovenia is interested only in "modern equipment which the arms can actually use in the next ten to fifteen years."

Vote on PM-designate to be held on 25 May

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly could vote on the appointment of Robert Golob as Slovenia's next prime minister as early as Wednesday, 25 May, Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič and President Borut Pahor said at their first meeting. The names of the heads of deputy groups in the new parliament will be known this Thursday. On Friday, Pahor will send them invitations for formal consultations on the PM-designate, which will take place next Monday.

Remaining candidates for minister revealed

LJUBLJANA - The names of all nominees for ministers in the Robert Golob government have now been revealed. The Left confirmed that the party's vice-president Asta Vrečko, a curator and art historian, was slated for the culture portfolio and Simon Maljevac, the party's secretary general, for labour, the family and social affairs. Irena Šinko, a senior civil servant who served two terms as the director of the national Farmland and Forest Fund in 2010-2018, is the Freedom Movement's candidate for agriculture ministry.

Changes in government structure pass first hurdle in parliament

LJUBLJANA - The temporary parliamentary Joint Committee passed changes to the government act with which the emerging coalition proposes a new structure of the government, consisting of 19 ministries and one government office. While the coalition thinks this will improve efficiency, the opposition argued the result would be the opposite. Under the proposal from the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats (SD) and Left, the new government will have three ministries more than the outgoing government.

Slovenian MEPs complain over Austria extending border control

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Five Slovenian MEPs sent a public letter to Austria and the European Commission criticising the recent decision of Austria to again extend police controls on the border with Slovenia, labelling the move as unjustified and disproportionate. They argue that this is confirmed by the valid EU law and the recent decision of the EU court. The letter signed by Irena Joveva, Klemen Grošelj (both Renew/LMŠ), Milan Brglez (S&D/SD), Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) and Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS) is addressed to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner and Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

NATO mission in Slovakia to upgrade Slovenia-Czechia cooperation, minister says

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defence Minister Matej Tonin met his Czech counterpart Jana Černochova in Brussels before a meeting of EU defence ministers. The pair discussed NATO's mission in Slovakia and the role of EU presidency, which the Czech Republic will assume in July, the Defence Ministry said. Tonin offered to share Slovenia's experiences in the challenges of the EU presidency. He is happy the Czech presidency's priorities are in line with Slovenia's ambitions in defence policy, including strengthening EU-NATO cooperation.

Minister candidate says doctors will be able to work on the side

LJUBLJANA - After the announcement in the draft coalition agreement that doctors in the public sector will be banned from working for private providers was met with pushback from doctors' organisations, Danijel Bešič Loredan, the candidate for the health minister, said that such work would not be prohibited for now. He told POP TV and TV Slovenija that such a ban was part of a different, more distant part of the coalition agreement that is planned to be in place by 2024.

Writers find coalition agreement vague, artists and NGOs hopeful

LJUBLJANA - The coalition agreement of the future government of Robert Golob lacks vision and concrete solutions, said the Writers' Association. An association of freelance artists and NGOs finds the document ambitious, while economist Andrej Srakar welcomed the announced stable financing of culture. Mitja Šuštar, the head of the Glosa trade union of culture workers, expressed fear that culture will again be marginalised.

Dismissed TV Slovenija boss now put forward for the job

LJUBLJANA - Andrej Grah Whatmough, director general of the Slovenian public broadcaster, has put forward for director of the broadcaster's TV arm Natalija Gorščak, whom he himself dismissed from the job in August last year. RTV Slovenija said Gorščak was the only candidate to apply for the job in line with the terms of the call by the 13 May deadline. Another application arrived by e-mail and was thus not considered.

Alpina sold to Czech company K&H

LJUBLJANA/ŽIRI - The Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) announced it had sold its outright stake in footwear maker Alpina to K&H, a Czech company that is part of the Franco de Poisd'eau & CIE group, for an as yet undisclosed amount reported to be EUR 20 million. The buyer has been picked not just because it submitted the best financial offer but also because of a thorough development strategy, BAMC said. The new owner has already presented its plans to the management and workers as it announced that it will focus on restructuring improvements in production and sales, and the development of the Alpina brand.

Prevent & Deloza takes over German business

LJUBLJANA - Prevent & Deloza, the Celje-based protective clothing manufacturer, has taken over Askö, the German maker of fire-resistant gloves for what the newspaper Delo reports is roughly EUR 2 million. The company plans subsequent takeovers to form a group that will offer a comprehensive range of equipment for firefighters, police and the military. "We're in talks on new acquisitions, eyeing north and west," CEO Boštjan Marolt told Delo.

Slovenian companies to seek business opportunities in Nevada

MARIBOR - A memorandum of understanding between the SPIRIT agency and the Office of the Governor of Nevada was signed to help Slovenian companies enter the US market, a priority market for Slovenian companies as defined in a government strategy. The memorandum, signed on the sidelines of the PODIM conference, should create a basis for increasing bilateral trade, investment, and technology transfer between Slovenia and Nevada, said acting SPIRIT head Rok Capl.

EU Commission clears EUR 150m aid scheme for companies

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved the re-introduction of a Slovenian scheme, including an EUR 150 million budget increase, to support companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the development of coronavirus-relevant products. The original scheme was approved in August 2020 and expired on 31 December last year. Slovenia sought the re-introduction of the scheme until the end of June this year.

Presidential decorations for humanitarian work

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor has decorated four individuals for work spanning remembrance of the Holocaust, fight for the rights of the victims of war violence, and helping children with cancer. Robert Waltl, a theatre director and leader of the Jewish Cultural Centre, received the Order of Merit, as did Ivica Žnidaršič, who heads the Association of Slovenian Deportees 1941-1945. The husband and wife team of Valerija and Ivo Čarman, founders of the Golden Bow Institute, a charity for children with cancer, received a Medal of Merit.

Restored monument to Ukrainian Isonzo Front fighters unveiled

PANOVEC - A restored monument to the Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the WWI Isonzo Front was unveiled in Panovec near Nova Gorica, with the speakers noting that it was not a monument to generals and military leaders, but to ordinary soldiers who had died there. The monument to the 20th Imperial-Royal Landwehr Infantry Regiment, which fought around Nova Gorica, was erected in 1917 in the vicinity of its command and today represents the central monument to all Ukrainians who fought on the Isonzo Front.

17 May 2022, 06:55 AM

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Pahor and Qatari emir optimistic about bilateral ties

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani hailed the good relationship between their countries and expressed the hope that Qatari investors would invest in Slovenia as the emir started a two-day visit to Slovenia, accompanied by a large delegation featuring the ministers of foreign affairs, finance and trade. Outgoing Prime Minister Janez Janša also met with al Thani, while Slovenia's SPIRIT agency and Qatar Holding LLC signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate. Pahor and al Thani also visited the Muslim Cultural Centre in Ljubljana, and unveiled a bench of friendship there.

Slovenia's economy expanded by 9.8% y/y in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy expanded at an annual nominal rate of 9.8% in the first quarter of this year driven by household spending and capital expenditure. The seasonally adjusted rate was 9.6%. At the quarterly level GDP was up by 0.8%, a significant slowdown compared to the 5.3% recorded in the previous quarter, the Statistics Office reported. Domestic consumption increased by 16.6% year-on-year with household expenditure up by 20% as the main driver of growth, as imports growth outpaced exports growth.

Brussels cuts Slovenia's growth forecast

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission has downgraded its economic growth forecast for Slovenia by 0.1 percentage points to 3.7% for this year and by half a point to 3.1% for 2023. The rates are still substantial above those forecast for the eurozone, while inflation is projected to run at 6.1% in Slovenia and the rest of the eurozone this year. Next year Slovenia's inflation is to run at 3.3%, above the 2.7% projected for the eurozone.

Left membership voting on whether to join coalition

LJUBLJANA - The Left has launched a vote among members on whether it should join the coalition after the party's council initialled a coalition agreement with the Freedom Movement and the Social Democrats (SD). The members have one week starting on Monday to cast their vote in a secret ballot. The party said it had managed to include "some of our key programme objectives" in the coalition agreement and secured three portfolios dealing with issues highlighted as essential during the campaign.

Poll shows Freedom Movement making post-election gains

LJUBLJANA - The Freedom Movement gained ground in the first post-election Vox Populi opinion survey commissioned by the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer polling at 38.4% after winning 34.5% of the vote in the 24 April election. Dnevnik writes that this is the first time in 20 years that a political party enhanced its poll showing post-election in that way. The Freedom Movement nearly doubled its margin ahead of the SDS, while only three more parties garnered over 4%.

Economists deem coalition agreement unrealistic, very leftist

LJUBLJANA - Economist Marko Pahor assessed that, from the economic point of view, the coalition agreement of the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats and the Left is much more leftist than centrist. He sees many of the priorities as expensive and thus unrealistic. Mitja Kovač expressed shock and disappointment, as the agreement "mostly deals with massive rearranging of funds and extreme increasing of public spending, massive raising of taxes." Sašo Polanec warned against high public sector spending.

Pundit misses NATO, Central Europe in coalition agreement, happy with multilateralism, W Balkans

LJUBLJANA - International relations professor Zlatko Šabič told the STA as he commented on the foreign policy segment of the draft coalition agreement document that there are many good things in the document. However, time will tell how much of what has been written for international relations or foreign policy is a wish list and what is reality. Commitments about "international reputation and security" bode well that the coalition intends to promote peaceful policies and the culture of peace, he said.

Doctors unhappy with blanket ban on work for private providers

LJUBLJANA - Doctors expressed strong opposition to the announcement in the draft coalition agreement that doctors in the public sector will be fully banned from working for private providers. Their view that the ban would be discriminatory to doctors in comparison with some other groups was upheld by jurist Nataša Pirc Musar. Nurses, on the other hand, have welcomed an announcement of better pay and of a new set of standards and norms for staffing and workload.

Future coalition wants inquiry of financing of "party propaganda in media"

LJUBLJANA - The MPs of the emerging coalition have filed a request to form a parliamentary inquiry that will look into alleged illegal financing of "party political propaganda in the media with funds of state-owned companies, state institutions or foreign institutions or entities." The request by the MPs of the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats (SD) and Left, with former journalist Mojca Šetinc Pašek of the Freedom Movement as the initiators, refers to the period from 13 March 2020 to the present day.

Hisense Gorenje Slovenia's top exporter in 2021

LJUBLJANA - Home appliances manufacturer Hisense Gorenje has overtaken drug makers Lek and Krka to become the country's biggest exporter in 2021, with exports totalling almost two billion euros, according to data gathered by Delo. Lek is in second place with EUR 1.59 billion and Krka right behind with exports worth EUR 1.47 billion. The only other company to break the one-billion mark is the Renault-owned car assembly plant Revoz with EUR 1.18 billion.

Ljubljana adopts ambitious energy strategy by 2030

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana city council endorsed the energy strategy for 2022-2030, envisaging a 40% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2008 and zero net greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century. Three hydro power plants on the Ljubljanica river are planned along with a waste-to-energy plant and number of solar power plants. In line with the strategy, Ljubljana should achieve energy self-sufficiency by 2025 and the entire energy chain in the municipality should become carbon-free.

Slovenia improves energy self-sufficiency

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia met 53% of its energy needs with domestic energy sources last year, which makes an improvement of two percentage points compared with 2020, Statistics Office data shows. The country depended fully on imports for petroleum products. Petroleum products represented 31% of the energy supplied, followed by nuclear (23%), renewable energy sources (19%), coal (15%) and natural gas (12%).

Covid hospitalisations, cases continue downward trajectory

LJUBLJANA - The gradual decline in the Covid pandemic continues, with Slovenia reporting lower hospitalisations and cases over the weekend, according to the latest Health Ministry data. There were 58 patients in hospital due to Covid this morning, down by 20 from Thursday, plus another seven in intensive care, up by two. Between Friday and Sunday a total of 910 new cases of coronavirus were reported, compared to 1,265 in the same period last week.

Damage at chemical factory Melamin estimated at around EUR 36m

KOČEVJE - The damage caused by the fire at the chemical factory Melamin in Kočevje last Thursday has been estimated at around EUR 36 million. CEO Srečko Štefanič said the management had presented details of the accident to supervisors today and they had backed the plans for mending the damage and gradual re-launching of production. The company will seek EU funding for renovation.

UKC Ljubljana reports EUR 9.3 million shortfall for 2021

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's largest medical centre, UKC Ljubljana, generated a shortfall of EUR 9.3 million last year. Given the Covid-19-related constraints and increase in costs, director-general Jože Golobič assessed the performance as successful. UKC Ljubljana treated 113,254 patients in its hospitals last year, 8.8% more than in 2020 but 4.9% fewer than planned for 2021. A total of 87,360 patients were handled in out-patient surgeries, which is 5.8% more than in 2020 but 8.9% fewer than planned.

SMEs struggling with digitalisation

LJUBLJANA - Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Slovenia lack the funds and properly skilled staff to adopt digital technologies, shows a survey which took a closer look at digitalisation at Slovenian companies. "SMEs will not be able to overcome such problems on their own," said Barbara Bradač Hojnik, the lead author of the Entrepreneurship Observatory survey.

Lampič switching from cross-country to biathlon as Gross takes over

LJUBLJANA - Anamarija Lampič, Slovenia's best cross-country skier, announced a switch to biathlon, a decision she says was long in the making since she had wanted to become a biathlete as a child. She made the announcement as the Biathlon Association announced that German biathlon legend Ricco Gross is taking over as the new headcoach of the Slovenian biathlon team.

16 May 2022, 06:48 AM

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Spending, training in focus of Slovenian Armed Forces Day

LJUBLJANA - Senior officials spoke in favour of increased defence spending, in the face of heightened security risks at a ceremony marking Slovenian Armed Forces Day. "No matter how much Slovenia sincerely strives for the peaceful resolution of all disputes, it may not turn a blind eye to the current tense circumstances," said President Borut Pahor. Both Pahor and Defence Minister Matej Tonin also defended the government's decision to buy Boxer armoured vehicles, which Tonin said were essential if Slovenia was serious about building defence capabilities in a deteriorating security environment.

Sole bid for construction of women's prison too high

LJUBLJANA - The planned construction of a new women's prison in Ig, south of Ljubljana, could be delayed after the Justice Ministry declared that the sole bid for construction works exceeded the available budget amidst soaring prices of construction services. The ministry will now issue a new call for bids, a two-step procedure with a pre-qualification round and a second round featuring only bidders who are designated as qualified.

Share of women managers in 56 monitored companies at 23%

LJUBLJANA - Gender balance targets were being met at the end of April in 30% of the 56 state-owned and listed companies monitored by the Directors' Association and Deloitte Slovenia as part of the 40/33/2026 initiative. On average, the companies had slightly more than 23% of women on their management boards and 26% of women among supervisors. A report released this week focusing on 13 companies shows that four have made progress when it comes to the targeted minimum of 40% women on supervisory boards and 33% together on supervisory and management boards.

Slovenian families getting smaller

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian families have contracted over the past 40 years. The number of those living alone has more than doubled and the number of childless families has risen by nearly a half, shows data released by the Statistics Office ahead of International Day of Families. Last year, 80% of Slovenia's population lived in families as defined by statistics, which compares to 88% forty years ago.

15 May 2022, 04:28 AM

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SD confirms coalition agreement, which is considered initialled

LJUBLJANA - The presidency of the Social Democrats (SD) got acquainted with the content of the coalition agreement and confirmed its initialling with the partners Freedom Movement and the Left. The coalition agreement has thus been coordinated between all future coalition partners and is considered initialled, the Freedom Movement announced. Before it is signed, the coalition agreement must be approved by all other bodies of the parties of the future coalition. The SD presidency also confirmed the party's ministerial candidates and Jani Prednik as the head of the deputy group.

Coalition agreement sets minimum wage at EUR 800, changes in healthcare

LJUBLJANA - As the future coalition partners are expected to initial a coalition agreement, some details from the document have already leaked out. The agreement envisages changes in the pension and healthcare system, and there is a commitment to raise minimum wage to EUR 800 and minimum pension to EUR 700. Among other things, they announced that around 20,000 apartments with non-profit rent will be constructed in the next two government terms, and plan is to eventually abolish top-up health insurance, and suspend the purchase of Boxer armoured personnel carriers (APCs).

Ambassador Geržina critical of Austria extending border control

VIENNA, Austria - Ambassador to Austria Aleksander Geržina criticised Austria's decision to extend checks on the border with Slovenia, telling the Austrian news agency APA that the measure had not been properly justified by the authorities. Regretting the decision, Geržina noting that crossing the border freely was very important for people and businesses on both sides of the border. He also noted in an interview for Die Presse that 67 years after the Austrian State Treaty was signed, not all its provisions regarding the rights of the Slovenian minority had been implemented.

Storms ravaged through several parts of Slovenia last evening

LJUBLJANA - Storms with heavy rain hit parts of northern, eastern, south-western and central Slovenia on Friday afternoon, causing extensive damage to infrastructure and buildings. More than five kilometres of roads were damaged, almost 70 trees were uprooted and tens of buildings flooded. The relief effort involved two professional fire-fighting units and 35 voluntary units, as the water entered buildings and garages and the wind lifted roofs off buildings and uprooted trees.

Impol net profit more doubles last year

SLOVENSKA BISTRICA - Leading Slovenian aluminium producer Impol recorded EUR 845 million in revenue in 2021, up 45% from 2020. Apart from sales going up by almost 20%, another reason is an increase in aluminium prices. Net profit surged from EUR 14 million to EUR 35.5 million. Impol generated 93% of all revenue in foreign markets, mostly in the EU. Its most important market, generating two-thirds of revenue, was Germany. Just over 10% was generated by Italy, and almost 6% by Croatia.

Verace and Pop's Pizza among top 50 pizza restaurants in Europe

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana's Verace and Pop's Pizza rank among the top 50 pizza places in Europe in the latest 50toppizza guide, with the former making it to the list for the second year running. This year, Verace gained four spots to rank 31st, while Pop's Pizza made it to the list for the first time to rank 43rd. 50toppizza said that under pizza chef Fabio Caruso, the restaurant made the authentic Naples pizza with excellent dough and ingredients. As for Pop's Pizza, the guide said that it Neapolitan-style pizzas were very tasty with fresh and quality ingredients.

14 May 2022, 04:09 AM

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New parliament inaugurated, speaker elected

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's new parliament opened with the confirmation of the terms of all 90 MPs and the election of former judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič from the election-winning Freedom Movement as speaker in what is the first time that a woman MP will lead the National Assembly. She was elected in a 55:25 vote in a secret ballot that illustrates the weight of the future coalition, a grouping of three parties with 53 MPs that will be formalised within days. The new opposition - the SDS and NSi - meanwhile tabled more than two dozen bills, a move that will delay the passage of legislation crafted by the new coalition.

LMŠ too endorses consolidation of liberal bloc

LJUBLJANA - As the Freedom Movement confirmed plans to merge with the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), the LMŠ executive committee too endorsed the merger, with the party's governing council yet to take a vote on the matter. Freedom Movement leader Robert Golob, the presumptive new PM, told the press on Thursday that the consolidation of liberal bloc would unfold at an accelerated pace. Commenting on the merger, analyst Domen Kos said that by inviting former PMs Bratušek and Šarc to join his government, Golob made "the most strategic move he can make in the long term".

Staff at public broadcaster opt for token strike

LJUBLJANA - A majority of RTV Slovenija trade union members opted to stage a token strike on 23 May in protest at a situation they describe as "unbearable" due to policies pursued by the management and the Programme Council. The strike demands include editorial and institutional autonomy and resignations by RTV Slovenija director general Andrej Grah Whatmough, TV news programme editor-in-chief Jadranka Rebernik, acting editor of the MMC news portal Igor Pirkovič and RTV Slovenija Programme Council chairman Peter Gregorčič. The leadership expressed regret at the move, while the Association of Journalists (DNS) endorsed the strike.

Five confirmed dead in Kočevje chemical plant blast

KOČEVJE - Firefighters managed to get through to the remains of the five persons who lost their lives in Thursday's explosion at the Melamin chemical plant in Kočevje, south Slovenia, as the investigation into the cause of the accident continues. One of them was a Melamin employee and the rest were contractors who were working on the site at the time. Two victims were Bosnian citizens but will have be identified with a DNA method. The two badly injured Melamin workers remain in critical condition. One of them has still not been identified, but is believed to be a Macedonian national.

Economy minister visits Melamin post-explosion

KOČEVJE - Outgoing Economy Minister Zrdavko Počivalšek visited chemical company Malamin to discuss ways of helping it in the wake of Thursday's explosion. He said EU rules allow the state to help all companies hit by an industrial accident cope with the damage to infrastructure but also regarding the loss of income. "This can cover up to 100% of the damage," he said adding aid could come from the Slovenian Enterprise Fund, SIB Bank and Regional Development Fund. Melamin director Srečko Štefanič said that they should have all the data next week to be able to apply for EU aid.

Bad bank cancels Istrabenz, Thermana sale

LJUBLJANA - The Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) announced it had revoked a decision to initiate the sale of two tourism companies, Istrabenz Turizem and Thermana, citing the recent change of the national tourism strategy. The government adopted a new seven-year tourism strategy on 11 May to stipulate that equity stakes in tourism companies in the BAMC portfolio remain in state ownership. The revelation that Istrabenz and Thermana would be sold was met with surprise even by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who said it was a damaging solo action by BAMC.

Govt moves to terminate several more agreements with Russia

LJUBLJANA - The government asked parliament to terminate several bilateral agreements with Russia as a means of increasing political pressure on the country and contribute to peace. The initiative was confirmed on Thursday and formally tabled today, on the opening day of the new parliament. A few agreements with Russia were terminated in March, dealing with issues such as judiciary cooperation and the work of scientific and cultural centres, which led to the closure of a Russian centre in Ljubljana.

State to fully cover social contributions for religious staff

LJUBLJANA - A new regulation entered into force increasing the amount of state aid for the payment of social security contributions of religious staff. The figure has gone up from 48% to 100% of the average pay provided that religious communities meet some conditions after the regulation was adopted by the government on Wednesday. Given the number of staff, the Catholic Church will get 20 times as much money as other religious communities combined, according to the news portal Necenzurirano.

Energy taskforce says over EUR 17bn in investment needed until 2050

LJUBLJANA - A debate on a Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) strategy for the development of Slovenia's energy system until 2050 suggested EUR 15 billion would be needed for investment in production facilities in this period, along with EUR 2.3 billion for a network upgrade to secure a green transition. The debate proposed a combination of nuclear energy and renewables to fill the widening gap between expected electricity production and consumption.

Row over Kržanke church set to drag on

LJUBLJANA - A decades-long row over the denationalisation of a Baroque church that is part of the Križanke open-air theatre complex is set to resume in court after the institution using the complex as a festival venue and the Ljubljana city announced an appeal against the Culture Ministry's decision to return the church to the Teutonic Order in kind. Festival Ljubljana expects the Administrative Court to quash the decision. It had done that three times before and also annulled a 2014 decision to award the Teutonic order compensation.

TAB revenue up last year, net profit at EUR 16.5m

MEŽICA - TAB, a maker of starter and industrial batteries, generated EUR 260.2 million in sales revenue last year, up 12% from the year before. Net profit was up from EUR 16.2 million to EUR 16.5 million. Efforts to launch production of lithium-ion cells in Prevalje continue. Certain production and commercial activities are expected to start in Prevalje this year. The project is managed by TAB-Haidi, a joint venture the company has founded with an Asian partner.

Salus ups operating revenue in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Salus group, a pharmaceuticals wholesaler, posted EUR 125.7 million in operating revenue in the first quarter of the year, up 17.5% on the same period a year ago. The group's net profit decreased by 14% to EUR 4.1 million. Last year's Q1 net profit was higher due to a one-off effect of the successful settlement of a lawsuit involving Salus and the bankrupt pharmacy chain Moja Lekarna.

Slovenia's gross external debt almost equal to last year's GDP

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia had a gross external debt of EUR 51.9 billion in the first quarter of the year, a figure that was up by EUR 1.6 billion over the year before and almost equalled the country's GDP for 2021 at current prices, the central bank said. The government sector accounts for just under half of total debt. With gross claims on non-residents totalling EUR 53 billion, Slovenia actually had a positive external debt position of EUR 1.2 billion, down EUR 0.2 billion from a year ago.

Value of construction works up by 20% in Q1

LJUBLJANA - The value of construction completed in the first three months of 2022 increased by 19.2% year-on-year on the back of strong figures reported by the building and civil engineering segments, the Statistics Office said. Building construction surged by 33.4% and the value of civil engineering works rose by 17.4%. The sector of specialised construction activities reported a 15.7% decline.

Largest May Salon ever opening in Maribor

MARIBOR - The annual May Salon, the country's oldest art exhibition, opened in Maribor, bringing an overview of contemporary Slovenian art production from classic to new media. According to Zoran Poznič, the head the Slovenian Association of Fine Arts Societies, which organises the event, this is the largest May Salon ever. Held at Slovenia's largest exhibition venue, Kibla Portal, the show Blue Line: From Renaissance to New Media features more than 600 works by 218 artists.

Daily coronavirus count lower still

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged 577 cases of coronavirus on Thursday as the caseload keeps falling on the week and day before. Two more patients with Covid-19 died, official data shows. Only five patients continue to be treated for Covid-19 as their main condition in intensive care units, with a total of 78 in hospital. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 of the population has dropped by 32 to 458. The 7-day average of cases fell by 23 from the previous day to 584.

13 May 2022, 06:57 AM

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Six injured, five feared dead in industrial explosion in Kočevje

KOČEVJE - Six people were injured and five are feared dead after an explosion and a fire at the chemical factory Melamin in Kočevje in southern Slovenia, the deadliest industrial fire in modern Slovenian history. The bodies of the missing persons have not been recovered yet. Two of the injured sustained severe injuries and one of them is still fighting for their life at the UKC Ljubljana hospital. According to Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration, the fire has been put out and hazardous substances contained.

OCCAR signs deal with Boxer supplier on behalf of Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) has already signed a contract with Artec, the German supplier of Boxer carriers, on behalf of Slovenia. The first prototype Boxer vehicle will be in Slovenia at the end of 2023, with an additional 44 to be made following the country's clearance, Korošec, director general of the Defence Ministry Logistics Directorate, said. The incoming coalition parties strongly oppose the purchase. Matej T. Vatovec, the head of the Left deputy group, announced a review of all decisions taken by the defence minister in connection with the deal.

Govt declares 17 May memorial day for victims of communism

LJUBLJANA - At its last regular session before being relegated to caretaker role, the government declared 17 May the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communist Violence. The government says that it acted based on two things - on "the civilisational norm that the perpetrators of violence and evil acts be measured by the same criteria" and "in an effort to prevent the most tragic events in our history from being repeated". Between the summer of 1941 and January 1956, communist violence in present-day Slovenia claimed tens of thousands of violent deaths of civilians and prisoners of war

Freedom Movement endorses coalition agreement

LJUBLJANA - The Freedom Movement's top brass unanimously endorsed the coalition agreement and the list of ministerial candidates. Party opresident Robert Golob, Golob, the presumptive new prime minister, said the Freedom Movement will initial the coalition agreement together with the SocDems and Left on Saturday. Afterwards, the agreement, said to number upwards of 80 pages, will be presented to the public. The agreement is based on his party's election platform, which was aligned in some points with the remaining two coalition parties during their negotiations. Golob said the focus was on healthcare, green and digital transformation, intergenerational dialogue, housing policy and media freedom.

Consolidation of liberal bloc proceeding apace

LJUBLJANA - The consolidation of liberal parties led by the Freedom Movement appears to be going forward. The party confirmed plans to merge with the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), parties that did not make it to parliament, the latter having green-lit the proposal as well. "The procedure will unfold at an accelerated pace," said Freedom Movement leader Robert Golob, the presumptive new prime minister.

Pahor, Xi exchange congratulations on 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties

LJUBLJANA/BEIJING, China - Slovenian president Borut Pahor and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In his letter to Xi, Pahor said Slovenia and China had reason to be proud at what they have achieved in bilateral ties, noting that Slovenia was in favour of "constructive European-Chinese relations". Xi pointed out that since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties, China and Slovenia had treated each other with respect and as equals.

Hungarian MP's term in spotlight at maiden session

LJUBLJANA - As the new National Assembly convenes its maiden session on Friday, one of the issues will be whether the Hungarian minority deputy Ferenc Horvath can re-assume office over alleged breach of the incompatibility of dual-office rules. One of his rival candidates has asked for the Privileges and Credentials Commission to check whether Horvath can serve as MP without giving up his post as president of a minority organisation after courts upheld the anti-graft watchdog's decision that he cannot.

Crime suspected in maintenance of SAF vehicles

LJUBLJANA - The news portal Necenzurirano reported that a Defence Ministry audit had ascertained reasons to suspect criminal offences in the maintenance of Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) vehicles and procurement of spare parts. The ministry confirmed for the portal that the audit "will be added as a document to the criminal complaint which is being drawn up by the criminal police at the Ljubljana Police Department". It said the damage was suspected at EUR 1.2 million.

Telekom Slovenije reports 23% higher Q1 profit

LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije, the state-owned telecommunications provider, generated EUR 151.2 million in net sales revenue in the first quarter of the year, a decrease of 4% from the same period a year ago, the main reason for which is the company quitting electricity retail business on 1 January. The group's net profit rose 23% to EUR 12 million. The management's proposal for the shareholders meeting on 16 June is to pay out EUR 22.7 million in dividends at EUR 3.5 gross per share, one euro less than last year.

BAMC reportedly preparing to sell tourism companies

LJUBLJANA - Media reported that the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) is gearing up to sell Istrabenz Turizem and Thermana, the companies that own hotels and spas in Portorož and Laško, including by what unofficial information says are changes to the articles of association of the tourism companies regarding the status of supervisors. POP TV reported on Wednesday, citing unofficial information, that Franci Matoz, BAMC chairman, wanted Istrabenz Turizem to sell hotels to Hungarian buyers. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said the sale would be a "dumb solo action" in violation of the current tourism strategy.

Govt incepts another research hub in Pomurje

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a decision to incept another research hub in the north-eastern region Pomurje to support scientific development and innovation there, in the entire Eastern Slovenia, one of the country's two cohesion regions, and in Slovenia as a whole. The new hub will build on the work of other research organisations in Pomurje, in particular the Murska Sobota General Hospital.

Mitja Lainščak appointed research agency boss for full term

LJUBLJANA - The government on Wednesday appointed Mitja Lainščak director of the Public Research Agency (ARRS) for a five-year term, starting on Friday, thus ending a saga over the director's appointment and the appointment and dismissal of the founder's members on the agency's management board just before it becomes a caretaker government. Lainščak, cardiology department head at the Murska Sobota General Hospital, took over in January as acting director to succeed Robert Repnik, who stepped down.

Acting director appointed at competition watchdog

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Zlatko Ratej acting director of the Competition Protection Agency. He will take over for a six-month stint on 1 July, when the term of the incumbent director, Andrej Matvoz, ends. The move is designed to make sure that the agency can continue working normally since the current agency is barely quorate with a director and two members, and in the event a recusal is required from the director, it cannot take valid decisions, the Economy Ministry said.

Passenger traffic at Ljubljana airport continues to recover

BRNIK - Passenger traffic at the Ljubljana airport continues to pick up as the airport handled a total of 198,079 passengers in the first four months of the year, seven times more than in the same period last year. The volume of cargo traffic was up by 16% to 10,493 tonnes. "The significant recovery in traffic has been driven by the relaxation of entry restrictions in European countries and around the world and the ensuing higher demand for flights," airport operator Fraport Slovenija said.

Additional funding approved for health services, investments

LJUBLJANA - The government approved almost EUR 54 million in additional funding for health services. Under an addendum to the framework financing agreement for healthcare, EUR 35.7 million has been earmarked for additional services that hospitals will perform this year and EUR 18 million was set aside for new services such as screening programmes. It also confirmed the co-financing of investments at the primary level of healthcare in the total amount of nearly EUR 6 million.

First Chinese shipment of Teslas in weeks to arrive through Koper

KOPER - The first shipment of Tesla vehicles manufactured in Shanghai after the revival of production that had ground to a halt in March due to Covid-19 restrictions is reportedly set to reach the European market via the port of Koper. Data from Shanghai customs shows a ship carrying 4,767 Tesla electric vehicles left China on Wednesday and sailed for Slovenia, the portal English News reported.

Record number of vacancies on job market in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian employers reported a record 24,600 job vacancies for the first quarter of the year, up 6% from the fourth quarter last year and almost 50% more than in the same quarter in 2021. "The number of vacancies thus reached the highest level since this survey was launched in 2008. Vacancies grew from one quarter to another throughout 2021, continuing into the start of this year," the Statistics Office said on releasing the figures.

Govt chips in EUR 1.5m for suspension footbridge in Celje

LJUBLJANA - The government will chip in up to EUR 1.5 million for the project to construct a 505-metre long suspension bridge for pedestrians across the Savinja river in Celje, which has been estimated at EUR 4.6 million. The decision was taken by the government on Wednesday. The Celje municipality plans to build the steel footbridge between the Celje Castle hill and the hill on the other bank of the Savinja, which, at 505 metres long, will be one of the longest Tibetan-style hanging bridges in the world.

Covid-19 keeps retreating

LJUBLJANA - A total of 604 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Wednesday, nearly 40% fewer than the same day a week ago. Only six patients continue to be treated for Covid-19 in intensive care units and another patient died on Wednesday, Health Ministry data shows. A total of 72 patients remain hospitalised for Covid-19 as their main condition. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 of the population has gone up by 15 to 490. The 7-day average of cases fell by 56 from the previous day to 607.

Record amount of cocaine bound for Slovenia seized in Malta

VALLETTA, Malta - Maltese customs officers have seized a record 1.5 tonnes of cocaine hidden in a container carrying bananas from Colombia to Slovenia, the Maltese newspaper Malta Today reported on Wednesday. The contraband, seized at Malta Freeport, is estimated to be worth EUR 300 million. Fifty bags containing 1,494 one-kilo wraps of cocaine were seized aboard a ship bound for Koper, Slovenia.

12 May 2022, 08:15 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Coalition agreement, cabinet line-up finalised

LJUBLJANA - The partners in the incoming coalition finalised the coalition agreement and determined most of the candidates for cabinet posts in an expanded government that will have 19 ministers and one minister without portfolio. Tanja Fajon, the leader of the Social Democrats (SD), is the candidate for foreign minister, and Left leader Luka Mesec will be in charge of the new ministry of solidarity-based future. Both will serve as deputy prime ministers, a title that will also be conferred on orthopaedic surgeon Danijel Bešič Loredan, who is slated for the health portfolio.

Defence minister signs memorandum with OCCAR on Boxer carriers

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin signed a memorandum with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) that paves the way for the purchase of 45 armoured personnel carriers, just hours after he was authorised to do so and a day before the government is relegated to caretaker role. Presenting the new cabinet today, Left leader Luka Mesec said the new coalition was opposed to the purchase and Golob said a normal and good master would not cause damage to the country. He announced the use of all legal means available to "implement our view".

ECB's Lagarde suggests rate hike soon after asset purchases end

LJUBLJANA - European Central Bank (ECB) president Christine Lagarde that the ECB could conduct the first interest rate hike within weeks after it ends purchases under the asset purchase programme early in the third quarter. "The first rate hike ... will take place some time after the end of net asset purchases. We have not yet precisely defined the notion of 'some time', but I have been very clear that this could mean a period of only a few weeks," she told a conference in Ljubljana marking the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's central bank.

In Sarajevo, Pahor repeats call to EU to give Bosnia candidate status ASAP

SARAJEVO - President Borut Pahor discussed the significance of political stability for economic and social development of Bosnia-Herzegovina in his address to the 11th Sarajevo Business Forum. He warned that the process of enlargement to the Western Balkans was too slow and appealed for Bosnia to be awarded candidate status as soon as possible. Pahor believes the country should be given candidate status without additional pre-conditions and in exchange Bosnia-Herzegovina should commit to adopt the needed reforms, which is vital for a secure and successful future of the country and the EU as a whole.

Upper chamber launching constitutional review of 2022 budget

LJUBLJANA - The National Council decided to ask the Constitutional Court to review this year's state budget and the law on its implementation. The court is urged to scrutinise segments of both documents relating to the financial plans of independent constitutional authorities, including the National Council and the Constitutional Court. By the end of the summer the Council will run out of funds to pay councillors' allowances, so it will be left with no choice but to ask the Finance Ministry for additional funding, citing the legal basis, National Council President Alojz Kovšca said.

NLB Group net profit more than tripled to EUR 231.5m in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's largest banking group, NLB, posted EUR 231.5 million in net profit in the first quarter of 2022, more than triple the figure recorded in the same period last year, on the back of the acquisition of the Slovenian subsidiary of Russia's Sberbank in March. The profit of the core company NLB dropped to nearly EUR 33 million.

Cinkarna Celje more than doubles net profit in Q1

CELJE - Chemical company Cinkarna Celje posted sales of EUR 66.4 million for the first quarter of this year, up 32% on the same period in 2021. Net profit more than doubled to EUR 15.6 million on the back of high prices, the company said. Operating profit (EBIT) surged by 106% to EUR 19.1 million and profit before income tax, depreciation and amortisation was up by almost 80% to EUR 22.4 million. EU markets account for more than three quarters of the sales, and this is where revenue grew at the fastest pace.

Covid hospitalisations, cases continue to decline

LJUBLJANA - The Covid pandemic remains in retreat in Slovenia, as new cases were down by nearly half week-on-week on Tuesday, to 666, while hospital figures continued to decline, the latest figures show. There were only 66 people in regular wards due to Covid-19 plus another seven in intensive care units this morning, down by nine and two, respectively, over yesterday. The number of active cases dropped by almost 500 to just over 10,000, with the 14-day incidence per 100,000 population at 477, down by 20.

Ukraine, Bosnia in focus as writers meet in Bled

BLED - The 54th annual International Writers' Meeting is getting under way in Bled today to focus on topics ranging from ethics to Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The writers will also call for humanity in a declaration. Organised by Slovenian PEN, the meeting is being held in hybrid form for the second year, which is to give authors from Africa a chance to take part. Some 90 delegates are expected to attend, a third of whom remotely.

Actor Ivo Ban honoured by Slovenian film directors

LJUBLJANA - Film, theatre and television actor Ivo Ban is the recipient of this year's Bert Award for lifetime achievement in film and television conferred by the Slovenian Directors' Guild. The jury said he was an actor whose face and voice had been "firmly and permanently anchored in the Slovenian cultural treasury and collective memory." It was noted that Ban, 72, had rung up an impressive list of 50 film roles and more than 20 television roles, which spoke about the actor being wanted by many directors. He will receive the award, which has been given out since 2014, at the Slovenian Cinematheque in Ljubljana on 17 May.

No final for Slovenia at Eurovision song contest

TURIN, Italy - Last Pizza Slice (LPS) did not make it past the semi-final of the Eurovision song contest, the second year in a row that the Slovenian entrant remained without the much coveted final. The high-school band from Celje performed Disko, an uplifting retro blend of pop and funk with sad lyrics about a painful breakup. "We're very grateful for the whole experience," singer Filip Vidušin said after the performance. Ten of the 17 countries featured in the first semi-final made the cut.

Power lines damaged in hot air balloon accident in Beltinci

BELTINCI - A hot air balloon accident took place near the town of Beltinci in north-eastern Slovenia on Tuesday as the gondola of the balloon hit power lines, cutting local electricity supply and causing an estimated EUR 11,000 in damage. No person was injured in the accident. A passenger reportedly had to jump out of the gondola, as instructed by the pilot, so that the balloon could be lifted again, gain some distance from the power lines and land safely. Police said the pilot was facing charges.

11 May 2022, 07:17 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Govt reintroduces price caps on fuels

LJUBLJANA - The government reintroduced price caps on motor fuels, setting the maximum retail prices at EUR 1.560 a litre for regular petrol and EUR 1.668 a litre for diesel. Wholesale prices are capped at EUR 1.540 for regular and EUR 1.648 for diesel. New pricing will be valid from Wednesday. Fuel retailers whose business is damaged substantially as a result will be eligible for compensation, which could cost the state at least EUR 30 million a month. The government reimposed price caps after Robert Golob, the most plausible candidate for the new prime minister, announced yesterday his centre-left government would impose energy price regulation, targetting not just fuel but other energy sources as well.

Janša says Russia never de-Communised

KYIV, Ukraine - Prime Minister Janez Janša said the West remained oblivious to the fact that Russia never de-Communised, as he told Ukrainians in an address aired on Ukrainian national TV on Monday that Ukraine was the real heir of the victories of the Second World War. Janša said only one evil, national socialism or Nazism, had been defeated in the Second Word War in 1945, whereas the other evil, international socialism or Communism, was not.

Pahor in Croatia for Slovenian association anniversary ceremony

RIJEKA, Croatia - President Borut Pahor addressed a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the Union of Slovenian Associations in Croatia in Rijeka, noting the importance of the friendly relations between the countries and calling for the fastest possible entry of Croatia in the eurozone and the Schengen Area. Croatian President Zoran Milanović was scheduled to attend the ceremony as well and hold bilateral talks with Pahor, but he excused himself, citing unplanned obligations in Zagreb.

Recalls and appointments of several ambassadors take effect

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor's decrees recalling the current Slovenian ambassadors to Italy, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Denmark and Slovakia and appointing new ambassadors to Copenhagen, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Bratislava, Brussels and Seoul became effective as they were published in the Official Gazette. Around 15 new ambassadors are expected to assume their posts by the end of August, including several who in the opinion of Robert Golob, the presumptive prime minister-designate, are too connected politically with the current government. He suggested the new government will replace them.

EUR 120m for investments in armed forces this year

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted the 2022 annual plan of investments in the Slovenian Armed Forces, under which the Defence Ministry will have EUR 120.55 million at its disposal to develop two key capabilities for national and collective defence as part of NATO; a battalion battle group and a special operations unit. The funding is higher than specified in the relevant act for 2021-2026 investments in the military, set at EUR 100 million annually, as the funds for last year were not fully spent.

Slovenia pledges EUR 150,000 aid for Syria

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia pledged to provide EUR 150,000 in humanitarian aid for the civilian population of Syria by 2024 at the donor conference organised by the EU for the country ravaged by war. The conference raised EUR 6.4 billion as donors sent a strong signal that the Syrian conflict was not been forgotten despite the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic. Slovenia was represented at the conference by Foreign Ministry State Secretary Stanislav Raščan.

Constitutional Court again under huge burden in 2021

LJUBLJANA - Matej Accetto, president of the Constitutional Court, highlighted the high number of petitions for constitutional review as he presented the 2021 report. The court has successfully resolved 1,300 of them with 100 more to go. Accetto also expressed certain grievances the court has with the government over insufficient funding. The court has already exhausted its internal resource reserves and streamlined its procedures. A solution is hiring more advisors but this would also call for extra space.

LMŠ and SAB in favour of consolidation of centre-left

LJUBLJANA - As Freedom Movement leader Robert Golob, the presumptive prime minister-designate, announced his wish to create a strong liberal bloc, including by cooperating with the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), the two parties said that they were in favour of consolidation of the centre-left. Golob is seeking to merge his party with the LMŠ and SAB and plans to offer the leaders of both parties, Alenka Bratušek and Marjan Šarec, ministerial posts.

Protest over changes splitting TV Slovenija news programmes

LJUBLJANA - Journalists' trade unions urged withdrawal of changes planned to the statute of the Slovenian public broadcasting service under which TV news programme would be split into two separate production units, which staff see as an attempt to create separate pro-government and anti-government news programmes. The new statute was endorsed on Monday by the RTV Slovenija Programme Council. It is expected to be rubber-stamped by the supervisory board.

Fate of flagship TV show uncertain after departure of moderator

LJUBLJANA - The fate of a flagship current-affairs show on the national public broadcaster, Studio City, remains uncertain after RTV Slovenija refused to renew the contract with long-time leader Marcel Štefančič amidst accusations that it is conducting a politically-motivated purge. RTV Slovenija director general Andrej Grah Whatmough told the Programming Council on Monday that the leadership would conduct consultations until 23 May as to how to continue with the show without Štefančič.

Govt adopts regulation on waste incineration

LJUBLJANA - The government issued a regulation on waste incineration as a public service under which concessions for the service are to be issued for 30 years. The government did not say how many concessions will be granted, but a draft regulation published with the government documents envisages up to four incineration plans. In January, doctors raised concern over the draft regulation on waste incineration.

Eco Fund to pay out EUR 84m in loans and grants this year

LJUBLJANA - The Eco Fund will provide EUR 47 million in loans for environmental investments and EUR 37 million in incentive grants to reduce the use of energy this year, under the business and financial plan of this public fund endorsed by the government. The fund will also issue calls to award EUR 38 million in incentives from the Climate Fund to replace old boilers and for household electricity generation.

Government adopts new seven-year strategy for tourism

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a new seven-year strategy for tourism that envisages a moderate increase in accommodation capacity and quantitative indicators, and focuses on higher quality. The total tourism demand is expected to generate EUR 2.1 billion in added value in 2028, which would be a 59% increase compared to 2019. The plans to consolidate state assets in tourism under a new holding have been suspended.

Economist Damijan warns about stagflation

PORTOROŽ - Economist Jože Damijan praised the government's decision to regulate energy prices but subsidies for food producers will also have to be considered and investment kick-started. Addressing a financial conference in Portorož he said inflation had become a permanent feature and warned about the threat of stagflation. Marjan Divjak, head of the Finance Ministry's treasury directorate, stressed that Slovenia was committed to keep lowering its debt and was better off than before the 2008 financial crisis.

Experts note role of cybersecurity in companies, cities

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Companies as well as municipalities are targets of cyber attacks, and it is key they come up with a cybersecurity strategy, experts said at a conference on cybersecurity that was held in Brdo pri Kranju. Awareness raising and cooperation are also important, they added. Defence Minister Matej Tonin announced that his ministry would establish a cyber training ground, a platform where the public administration and economy will have the option to test the performance of their systems.

Slovenia's digitisation performance above CEE average, Microsoft says

LJUBLJANA - The Digital Futures Index designed by technology giant Microsoft to measure the level of digitalisation in 16 European countries puts Slovenia seventh in digital performance, slightly above the average for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Microsoft experts say Slovenia has a long way to go to accelerate its digital development.

New joint venture to set global standards in measuring industry

TRBOVLJE - Dewesoft, a Trbovlje-based maker of data acquisition systems, and HBK, a German company specialising in product physics, launched a joint ventured dubbed Blueberry to work on backbone standardization for the new generation of data acquisition systems. The company was incorporated in Trbovlje in March and will get investments of EUR 6 million over five years. In its first year of operation it plans to hire twenty engineers and generate revenue of EUR 600,000 this year.

Petrol's second wind farm in Croatia operational

KNIN, Croatia - The Slovenian energy company Petrol officially launched its second wind farm in Croatia. The Ljubač wind farm, situated near the town of Knin in south Croatia, had been on a trial run since last summer. Its nine turbines generate around 96 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year. The EUR 37 million wind farm is Petrol's second in Croatia; the first one opened in 2017 near the coastal town of Šibenik. The combined power of both wind farms can meet the needs of 45,000 households.

Slovenian museum director to take over as Zagreb City Museum head

LJUBLJANA - Aleksandra Berberih Slana, director of the National Liberation Museum in Maribor, is taking over as the head of the Zagreb City Museum on 20 June after 16 years on the job at the Maribor regional museum of recent history. She is also quitting as the chairman of the Slovenian Museum Association, having led it since 2015.

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