Ljubljana related

03 Jul 2019, 02:59 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Šarec says EU parliament not backing deal on top posts would be bad sign

BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Marjan Šarec labelled EU leaders' compromise on appointments to top EU posts as good and expressed hope the candidate for the president of the European Commission, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, will also be backed by the European Parliament. Šarec said parliament failing to back her would be a bad sign. "I expect there will definitely be an additional complication or two but the European Council has shown its unity," Šarec said, emphasising the importance of this unity for the legitimacy of the Commission and other institutions.

Cerar signs strategic partnership plan with France

PARIS, France - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signeda new action plan for a strategic partnership between the two countries in the 2019-2022 period. The pair also broached the appointment process for the EU's top posts and the Western Balkans, the Foreign Ministry said. Cerar said the new agreement would enrich existing cooperation and provide a new momentum. He noted it also covered the time when Slovenia and France would successively hold the EU presidency in 2021 and 2022.

Fitch improves outlook for NKBM and Abanka as merger expected

WARSAW, Poland - The ratings agency Fitch has kept the long-term credit rating of the NKBM and Abanka banks at BB+, while revising their outlook from stable to positive. The main reason for the improved outlook are the expected positive results of the banks' merger. Fitch has also kept the banks' short-term risk rating at B and the bank's long-term sustainability of operation at bb+.

Speakers Židan and Gojković discuss cooperation, EU enlargement

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan and his Serbian counterpart Maja Gojković discussed cooperation between Slovenia and Serbia and the countries' parliaments as well as EU enlargement. Židan reiterated Slovenia's support for Western Balkans accession to the EU. The Serbian speaker said EU accession was the country's strategic priority and agreed with Židan that the enlargement policy was one of the best strategies for peace and stability in the Western Balkans and the entire EU.

Constitutional Court says mental health act unconstitutional

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court has found that the mental health act is unconstitutional after it was petitioned by a patient claiming their personal liberty and dignity had been violated when they were placed in a closed ward of an overcrowded institution against their will. Announcing the decision, the Constitutional Court has given the parliament nine months to mend the act.

Adria Airways's aircraft to be maintained by Northern Aerotech

BRNIK - Adria Airways announced that the Danish company Northern Aerotech will take over the maintenance of its aircraft starting September. Northern Aerotech was picked after the Adria decided not to renew its contract with the carrier's long-standing maintenance partner Adria Tehnika. Adria's chief operating officer Tadej Notersberg told the press that the Danish company, seated in Copenhagen, had a wealth of experience and had been selected in a call for applications that had attracted a lot of interest. His colleague Sven Kukemelk explained five bids had been submitted.

Energy trader Gen-I sells EUR 25 million commercial paper

LJUBNO OB SAVINJI - Energy trading company Gen-I has completed a EUR 25 million issue of a one-year commercial paper at an interest rate of 1.1%. Gen-I said it would use the fresh funds for working capital and to disperse its structure of short-term financing sources. The company, which had a 403-strong workforce at the end of last year and operated in 22 countries, said binding bids worth EUR 42 million had been submitted for the issue, which was organised by the NKBM bank.

Maribor judge says she was not attacked by her spouse

MARIBOR - The Maribor judge who was brutally assaulted near her home in mid-June gave her first statement after the attack. She told the STA through her daughter that she had not been attacked by her spouse, who is the chief suspect in the case. Maribor District Court judge Daniela Ružič has already filed a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator.

Power from renewables in Slovenia on the rise

LJUBLJANA - The share of electricity generated from renewable sources in gross end use in Slovenia in 2018 rose by 3.4 percentage points to 21.8% from 2005, the Energy Agency, the national regulator, said in its 2018 report. But in line with national goals stemming from the EU's climate and energy package, the share should be raised to 25% by 2020.

Slovenia 6th in EU in use of eHealth services

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is in 16th place among the 28 EU member states in the EU's Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), being above the average only in digital public services (14th). Slovenia performs particularly well in the access to open data and eHealth services, where it ranks sixth. The European Commission has been monitoring the digital competitiveness of member states with DESI reports since 2015, enclosing every year to national reports a chapter with an in-depth review of telecommunications.

Popular street theatre festival to visit dozen towns

KAMNIK/NOVA GORICA - The 22nd Ana Desetnica street theatre festival came to Kamnik and Nova Gorica today before it visits a total of eleven towns, including Ljubljana, until Sunday. The Slovenian capital is where Ana Desetnica will dwell the longest, from Wednesday to Sunday.

Slovenia eliminated at women's EuroBasket, top 12 finish best so far

BELGRADE, Serbia - The Slovenian women's national basketball team came very close to making the quarter-finals of the EuroBasket in Serbia, letting the play-off match with Belgium (67:72) slip away only in the final minute. The team will have to be content with a top 12 finish, which is the best for Slovenian women's basketball so far. This was the second the Slovenian woman basketballers participated in the European basketball championship, coming after 2017, when Slovenia also finished 14th with a 1:2 record.

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02 Jul 2019, 02:43 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenian, Italian police launch joint border patrols

KOPER - The Slovenian and Italian police forces started jointly patrolling the countries' border today in a bid to control illegal migration. The measure taken under an agreement signed by Slovenia and Italy is expected to be in place until 30 September. According to the Slovenian General Police Administration, four joint patrols a week are planned, three on the Slovenian side of the border and one on the Italian side. Police will be active along the green border and on former border crossings but Marjan Štubljar of the General Police Administration told the press today that "this is definitely not a restoration of border checks" and will not affect passengers.

Delaying uniform cigarette packages voted down at committee

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Health Committee voted down proposal from a group of MPs to postpone obligatory standardised packaging for tobacco products until 2023. The debate heard warnings from numerous organisations that the postponement would have negative consequences on public health. Given today's developments, coming after the proposal took heavy flack and was also denied the government's support, the National Assembly will not take a vote on the proposal, meaning uniform packaging will be introduced in 2020. The proposal also envisaged the setting up of a tobacco fund, which would manage the revenue coming from tobacco excise duties and fund anti-smoking programmes.

Committee backs controversial changes to primary school funding

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Education Committee endorsed, in a narrow vote, a controversial government-sponsored bill designed to implement a 2014 Constitutional Court decision under which the state must provide 100% funding for publicly approved curricula taught at private primary schools. The committee rejected all amendments, so the changes to the law on financing education will now be put to vote at a second-reading plenary in the form adopted by the government in early June. However, unofficial information indicates further changes are possible, as the coalition has not yet given up on trying to come to an acceptable model of financing.

Govt set to discuss migration strategy document

LJUBLJANA - The public debate stage has ended for a blueprint of Slovenia's approach to migration which the government is expected to discuss in July. The document encompasses plans to boost migrant labour, secure effective asylum procedures, as well as control illegal migration and security threats whilst simultaneously safeguarding the dignity of migrants. While clearly presenting the increasing need for migrant labour, the document notes the need to control illegal migration and effectively implement intergovernmental agreements on the return of persons.

EU fund payments to Slovenia may be suspended due to IT issues

LJUBLJANA, BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU cohesion funds payments to Slovenia may get suspended unless the country manages to address faults of the IT system it uses for drawing funds in the next two months, according to the government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, which said it had received a warning from the European Commission. Slovenia has now two months to respond. Based on the country's response, the Commission will decide whether the payments should be suspended.

Constitutional Court allows employee management participation in big banks

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court has found unconstitutional the part of the banking act that prevents employees from participating in management, saying that the legislature failed to provide sufficient reason to ban employees from management bodies. The contentious Article 33, stating that the act regulating the cooperation of employees in management does not apply to banks, was challenged by the in-house trade union of NLB. NLB is a two-tier board company with more than 3,000 employees who should be represented in the supervisory and the management boards, the union said.

Fusion of nature and culture at Sajeta Creative Camp

LJUBLJANA - The 20th Sajeta art and music festival will get under way near the town of Tolmin today, bringing progressive music and ideas to the north-western Sotočje region. The festival's international line-up will include the cult krautrock German band faUSt and popular Montenegrin performer Rambo Amadeus, dubbed Rambo Amadeus the World Kilo Tzar. Since its launch in 1998, the Sajeta Creative Camp festival has strived towards setting up a cultural-artistic lab in nature, and according to the organisers, it also aims to transcend generational, social or geographical differences and integrate various audiences, thus promoting inclusion and acceptance.

US first lady sculpture to be revealed in her hometown

SEVNICA - A life-size, wooden sculpture of US First Lady Melania Trump has been erected near her hometown Sevnica in south-east Slovenia. The intriguing sculpture will be presented on Friday as part of the Ta Eho exhibition by US artist Brad Downey, who aims to explore the extent of Melania Trump's roots and the reaction of the locals. Sevnica, a town of some 5,000 inhabitants has capitalised on Melania Trump's rise to fame by coming up with its own First Lady brand.

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01 Jul 2019, 02:25 AM

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Šarec says Timmermans good candidate for EU Commission president

BRUSSELS, Belgium - As he arrived for an EU summit seeking an agreement on appointments to senior EU positions, PM Marjan Šarec said that the proposal that had been circulating was not bad, and added that Frans Timmermans, which is unofficially tipped to become the next European Commission president, was "certainly a good candidate". The unofficial scenario is that the post of the European Commission president goes to the Party of European Socialists (PES), the post of the European Parliament President and a senior foreign policy post to the European People's Party (EPP), and the post of the European Council president to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). Regarding Timmermans, he added that "we will see where the talks will lead and whether someone has some other proposals."

First ever Pride Parade in Maribor held on Saturday

MARIBOR - The first ever Pride Parade was held in Slovenia's second largest city Maribor on Saturday, with some 800 people peacefully parading the city streets to spread a message of love, equality and inclusion, according to the organisers. As Marja Guček of the Maribor Youth Culture Centre told the STA, the attendance exceeded all expectations and the event concluded without any incidents. The participants were addressed by Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič, British Ambassador Sophie Honey, Andra Camelia Cordos of the Romanian organisation Go Free, among others.

Slovenian women ballers survive first round at EuroBasket

NIŠ, Serbia - The Slovenian women's national basketball team will play in the play-off match for the quarter-finals of the EuroBasket as it ended the group stage in third place in Group C. The final ranking for Slovenia was determined after a 57:75 loss to Italy today. Slovenia opened the campaign at the EuroBasket by losing 84:88 to Hungary on Tuesday, bouncing back from the loss the next day by defeating Turkey 62:55. Slovenia's opponent is yet to be determined, but it will be a team from Group D featuring the hosts Serbia, Belarus, Belgium and Russia.

Sea fish catch in Slovenia down for fourth year in a row in 2018

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian fishermen brought a total of 126 tonnes of fresh sea fish and other seafood to Slovenian ports last year, which is 2% less than in the year before, according to the Statistics Office. Last year was the fourth year in a row with a drop in the fish catch, and last year's catch was actually only 3% higher than the average monthly catch in 2002. Around 75% of the total catch was fresh fish and 24% was molluscs, most of them musky octopuses, while crabs represented only 1%.

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30 Jun 2019, 02:07 AM

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Koper-Divača rail track reopens, transport to and from Koper port resumes

LJUBLJANA - The rail track between Koper and the Dviača inland hub was reopened at 12:30pm following the emergency cleanup of Tuesday's massive kerosene spill. The track, a key transport link for the Koper port, was originally expected to reopen on Friday, but more time was needed for additional emergency operations tackling around 10,000 litres of kerosene spilled as a train derailed in a tunnel near Hrastovlje in the south-west of the country. The Environment Agency (ARSO) said that railway operator Slovenske železnice under its expert guidance had removed the contaminated material and thus reduced the environmental damage as much as possible. The groundwater on the coast, which only has one water source, is being tested regularly and is uncontaminated for now.

Šarec urges more personal engagement and responsibility at Najevnik tree meet

ČRNA NA KOROŠKEM - Addressing the traditional political gathering at the Najevnik Linden Tree, the largest tree in Slovenia, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec urged more optimism, but also more personal engagement and responsibility among Slovenians, in particular those in charge of state institutions. Šarec told a crowd of around 300 in Črna na Koroškem in the far north of the country that Slovenia definitely had a future even though many opportunities had been missed in recent years. Several high-ranking local as well as state officials and entrepreneurs attended the meeting, among them Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj and several mayors from the Koroška region.

SSH overhauls supervisory board of energy utility Gen energija

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) has replaced all of the supervisors of Gen energija representing the state as the owner of the power utility, citing the need for new competences in the face of new challenges, including major new investments. In line with the decision adopted by the state asset manager on Thursday, Karl Peter Peršolja, Sašo Ivan Geržina, Vanessa Grmek and Roman Dobnikar have been replaced by Mateja Čuk, Miha Šebenik, Miha Butara and Lovro Lapanja. The four new supervisors of what is the owner of the Slovenian half of the Krško nuclear power plant have been appointed for a four-year term and are joining worker representatives Samo Fürst and Robert Bergant whose term ends on 1 October.

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29 Jun 2019, 02:58 AM

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Koper rail track could reopen by midnight, kerosene removal continues

LJUBLJANA - The Koper-Divača rail track, a crucial transport link for the Koper port, is expected to be reopened at midnight and not at noon as initially planned, railway operator Slovenske železnice announced. The reason is the decision to remove more of the material potentially affected by Tuesday's massive kerosene spill. Slovenske železnice director general Dušan Mes said that "it would have made no sense to expose everybody to risk to save 12 hours." To address the backlog and also direct the rail cargo to roads, heavy goods vehicles will be allowed to use roads from and to the Koper port during the upcoming weekend.

Annual inflation rate at 1.8% in June

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate in June stood at 1.8%, with the prices of services going up on average by 2.9% on the yearly basis, and the prices of goods by 1.2%, the Statistics Office reported. Contributing the most to the annual inflation in June were higher prices of goods and services in the fields of housing, water supply, electricity, gas and other fuels (0.7 percentage points). Monthly inflation in June stood at 0.3%. The annual the rate went up by 0.4 percentage points compared to the annual rate in May. Measured with the harmonised index of consumer prices, the annual inflation in Slovenia was at 1.9% in June, down 0.4 percentage points year-on-year.

Government budget surplus minimal in Q1, public debt down

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's general government budget generated a minimal surplus of EUR 4 million or 0.03% of GDP in the first quarter of 2019, down 0.3 of a percentage point compared to the same period last year. General government debt amounted to EUR 31.58 billion or 67.9% of GDP, said the Statistics Office. General government debt was down by 2.2 percentage points compared to the last quarter of 2018, when it stood at 70.1% of GDP. Similarly to the past seven quarters, general government generated a surplus also in the first quarter of 2019, but this time it was minimal.

Slovenia joins call for preservation of Iran nuclear deal

LJUBLJANA/VIENNA, Austria - Seven European countries, including Slovenia, issued a statement to stress the importance of preserving the Iran nuclear deal as representatives of Iran are meeting in Vienna with five signatories of the deal who are trying to convince the country not to exit the deal over the US sanctions. In the statement, Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Slovenia say that in cooperation with France, Germany, the UK and the EU's foreign service and the European Commission, they were looking for ways for legal trade and financial transactions with Iran. One of the key initiatives is establishing the ISTEX instrument.

Ministry says border barriers Italy's internal decision

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Interior Ministry responded to the announcement by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the possibility of setting up barriers on the Slovenian-Italian border by saying that such a step would be part of Italy's internal political decision-making. Salvini plans to put up barriers in case the countries' joint border patrols, which are expected to start on 1 July, will not turn out to be effective at reducing illegal migration.

Govt ready to contribute to bail-in repayment, stakeholders remain unhappy

LJUBLJANA - Featuring almost 80 amendments, the second reading of a bill designed to provide legal recourse for holders of subordinated bank liabilities who were wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout proved too much for a single session of the parliamentary Finance Committee. Several open issues are to be addressed at a forthcoming session. A key novelty among the new amendments, mostly filed by the coalition with a view to the reservations expressed by parliament's legal service and some of the stakeholders, is that Banka Slovenije would no longer be made to shoulder the entire burden of what could be over EUR 963 million in damage payments.

President Pahor honoured by Crans Montana Forum

GENEVA, Switzerland - President Borut Pahor was honoured with the Prix de la Fondation given out by the Crans Montana Forum for efforts for peace, freedom and democracy. Addressing the award ceremony, Pahor talked about EU enlargement to the Western Balkans and the need to "consider the region more as an entity" in bilateral talks. He said it was clear that enlargement onto the Western Balkans would not be a priority of the next European Commission, underlining that it should become just that.

Parliamentary arbitration wire tapping inquiry to end soon

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services is to conclude its investigation of the 2015 arbitration wire tapping scandal on 8 July, when it will conduct the final interviews. A report, marked confidential, will be ready by September, commission chair Matej Tonin said. The report will "state very clearly who was in the know about who was being briefed by Simona Drenik," said Tonin, referring to Slovenian agent, who was recorded in 2015 speaking over the phone with Slovenian-appointed tribunal member Jernej Sekolec. It is unclear who recorded the communication, prohibited under the rules of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Trend of increasing number of foreign tourists turned in May

LJUBLJANA - May was an unusual month in terms of foreign tourist arrivals in Slovenia as their number was down by 2% and the number of overnight stays then generated dropped by 6% year-on-year, contrary to the steady trend of an increasing number of tourists recorded in the recent years. May was unseasonably wet and cold, which is probably the main reason for the number of foreign tourists dropping to 383,000 and the number of overnight stays to 841,000. According to the Statistics Office, the overall number of tourists in May stood at 500,000, almost flat compared to the same month in 2018. The number of overnight stays meanwhile dropped by almost 4% to around 1.1 million.

Slovenian veterans condemn war crime complaint against Kučan

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Independence War Veteran Association (ZVVS) and the Sever association of veteran police officers voiced a strong condemnation and opposition to a criminal complaint against former Slovenian President Milan Kučan, which accuses him of alleged war crimes. They described the complaint as a way to besmirch Slovenia. The statement refers to the complaint against Kučan and five more individuals with Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor's Office. According to the Serbian newspaper Politika, it has been filed by Serbian lawyer Dušan Bratić, who is studying alleged crimes against members of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Izola hospital gets new helipad

IZOLA - The Izola general hospital opened a new helipad in what is a significant achievement for the main coastal hospital. The state-of-the-art landing platform will be used for some 80 patients in a critical condition every year, according to the hospital's estimates. The project is valued at EUR 500,000, with the hospital earmarking EUR 350,000, and the remaining amount coming from the cross-border Emergency EuroRegion project, co-run by the hospital and aiming to improve emergency services in the Slovenian-Croatian region.

Higher Court orders retrial in Janša defamation case

CELJE - The Celje Higher Court has quashed the ruling of the Celje District Court that sentenced politician Janez Janša to a three-month suspended prison sentence over an offensive tweet in which he called two female journalists prostitutes and likened public broadcaster TV Slovenia to a whorehouse. A retrial has been ordered. The court found that an unauthorised person had appointed a substitute lay magistrate following a recusal request.

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27 Jun 2019, 23:51 PM

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PM's talks in Vatican dominated by Western Balkans

VATICAN CITY - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec discussed the situation in the Western Balkans with Pope Francis. "The Vatican and Slovenia strive for the same goal in this respect: that talks or negotiations on the EU enlargement start as soon as possible," Šarec said after his audience with the pope. Other foreign policy and international topics were also discussed, they exchanged views on migrations and talked about state funding for private primary schools, of which most are by the Catholic church in Slovenia. In the evening, Šarec also addressed the opening of an exhibition of the Vatican Museums on architect and designer Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) and his design of sacred objects.

Šarec says Slovenia, Italy should be aware of historical facts

LJUBLJANA/ROME, Italy - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said in an interview with the Italian press agency Ansa ahead of his visit to the Holy See that the Slovenian-Italian relations were very good, highlighting that the countries would launch mixed border patrols on 1 July. The PM believes that this was another proof of the strong bilateral relations. As regards a proposal of an Italian right-leaning politician to introduce a special population census for the Slovenian minority in Italy, Šarec said that problems always start when politicians intervene and when statements are made which are in the interest of narrow political groups while damaging the everyday life of the minorities on both sides of the border.

NBI allegedly investigating Perutnina Ptuj management buyout

LJUBLJANA - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) searched the premises of a Ljubljana financial institution on suspicion of business fraud. According to unofficial sources, investigators were at Abanka looking for proof of wrongdoing in a management buyout of the poultry producer Perutnina Ptuj about a decade ago. News portal Siol.net said that former Perutnina Ptuj boss Roman Glaser was among the 16 persons targeted by the investigation suspected of defrauding the company of EUR 8 million.

Soil polluted by kerosene from derailed train to be removed

KOPER - Environment Minister Simon Zajc visited the location of the kerosene leak caused by a derailed freight train near Hrastovlje in SW Slovenia, saying that after the last damaged wagon had been removed from the tunnel, works on removing the polluted soil would start tonight. Speaking to the press after a meeting with stakeholders, Zajc said that everything had been arranged with the national railways operator Slovenske Železnice regarding the rehabilitation of the area hit by the spill. Rail traffic on the section is expected to resume on Friday.

Moody's upgrades NKBM credit rating to Baa2

LJUBLJANA - Moody's has upgraded the credit rating for the NKBM bank from Baa3 to Baa2 while it preserved the rating for Abanka, just sold by the state to NKBM pending regulatory approval, at Baa2. The rating review was conducted a week after Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) sold the state's 100% stake in Abanka, Slovenia's third largest bank, to NKBM for EUR 444 million to comply with commitments given by Slovenia to the European Commission during the 2013 banking system bailout. Moody's wrote the acquisition of Abanka, which had the lowest share of non-performing loans among all Slovenian banks at the end of last year, will consolidate NKBM's position on the market, raising its total assets to EUR 8 billion and its market share to 22%.

Adria says issues being tackled, partner sought but not vital

BRNIK - Addressing the press in the face of mounting criticism, the management of Adria Airways said it was aware of the carrier's issues but was also working hard to resolve them. CEO Holger Kowarsch said talks with potential strategic partners were under way, but he added Adria could also survive on its own. Adria, Slovenia's former flag carrier which is in German ownership since 2016 and has struggled with liquidity problems, will do all it can to reduce the number of cancellations and delays, Kowarsch said, but he added that these were normal for all airlines and could not be avoided entirely.

Left discontent with govt cooperation, Šarec sees no major problems

LJUBLJANA/VATICAN CITY - The Left, the opposition party that has pledged to cooperate with the minority government, expressed once again its discontent with the cabinet. Party head Luka Mesec said the government was increasingly leaning to the right. He said the party would like at least four of the planned 13 projects carried out before the parliamentary summer recess. If this does not happen, the Left will reconsider its cooperation with the cabinet, according to Mesec. PM Marjan Šarec assessed the relations with the Left as good.

Experts, politicians disagree on climate situation

LJUBLJANA - A debate on Slovenia's long-term climate change strategy hosted by President Borut Pahor showed that experts and politicians have quite divergent views on the current situation. While experts want a climate crisis declared and call for drastic measures, politicians advocate for prudence. Ecologist Dušan Plut said the civilisation was at a turning point, which demanded big changes, including a "change of our ethical compass". Right leaning parties meanwhile claim that fight against climate change was motivated by money.

Govt moves to scrap bonus for working welfare allowance recipients

LJUBLJANA - Highlighting a marked increase of both the basic welfare allowance and welfare recipients in the past year, the government proposed an abolition of a special bonus for welfare recipients engaged in part-time work, for instance as volunteers with NGOs. Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Ksenija Klampfer told the press that the purpose was creating a clearer margin between the minimum wage, at EUR 667, and welfare allowance, at EUR 393 or up to EUR 593 with the bonus.

Govt amends emergency arbitration bill

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed a proposal for amending the 2017 emergency arbitration bill to extend by another two years fishermen's right to compensation in the face of Croatia's rejecting of the border arbitration award. The right to compensation of holders of permits for commercial fishing expire at the end of this year under the current law. The fishermen receive compensation because commercial fishing in the Slovenian waters is hindered due to Croatia's refusal to acknowledge and implement the border arbitration award.

Govt against delaying uniform cigarette packages

LJUBLJANA - The government denied support to a legislative proposal that would put off obligatory standardised packaging for tobacco products until 2023. The move would undermine Slovenia's system of tobacco control, which is very modern and effective, the cabinet said. It upheld the view of the health and finance ministries, which argued that the proposed changes to the 2017 act on the use of tobacco and related products would undermine the effects of the entire set of measures that is already showing positive results, especially among the young.

Hospitality and tourism industry union present grievances

BLED - The Hospitality and Tourism Industry Trade Union warned ahead of the peak of summer season about their grievances, including a shortage of staff in the industry, unfavourable working time, difficult work conditions and low wages. Among other things, the trade union wants the wage model in the industry to be re-done. The trade union secretary general Breda Črnčec told the press that employees from the industry had been facing these problems for a number of years, including in state-owned companies. While the Employment Service has estimated that the industry needs more than 5,000 additional workers, the trade union believes the number to be at least as twice as big.

Fmr President Kučan reported to Serbia's war crimes prosecutor

BELGRADE, Serbia/LJUBLJANA - Serbian lawyer Dušan Bratić reportedly filed a criminal complaint against former Slovenian President Milan Kučan, accusing him of responsibility for genocide and the breakup of Yugoslavia. Kučan said the claims, published in the Serbian daily paper Politika, did not warrant a serious comment. According to the report by Politka, Bratić, who is researching alleged crimes against members of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, filed the criminal complaint against Kučan and five more individuals with Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor's Office. Bratić reportedly focuses on the deaths of JNA members on the Škofije border crossing with Italy during the ten-day independence war and other alleged crimes.

Poetry and music festival gets under way in Goriška Brda

GORIŠKA BRDA - The literary festival Dreams in Medana kicked off in the picturesque western region Goriška Brda in the evening, featuring performances, concerts and discussions. Visitors will be able to indulge in wine and poetry readings as well, with the festival running until Sunday. Organised by the Ljubljana-based publishing house Sanje, the festival will start with an exhibition featuring architecture students' plans for the renovation of the family house of Slovenian poet Alojz Gradnik. Evening poetry journey performances will be the highlight of the annual festival, while musical performances will entertain visitors in front of the Vipolže villa and Castle Dobrovo.

Heat records broken across the country

LJUBLJANA - Heat records for June have been shattered in some parts of the country, as temperatures climbed to the upper 30s. People in Brežice (SE) saw their thermometers exceed 39 degrees Celsius, meteorologist Andrej Velkavrh told the STA. He said that records were broken today in Ljubljana (36 degrees) and at Kredarica, the country's highest mountain cottage at 2,515 metres of altitude (20 degrees), as well as a few other places.

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27 Jun 2019, 02:56 AM

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Huge kerosene leakage as freight train derails in tunnel

HRASTOVLJE - Six wagons of a freight train derailed on Tuesday afternoon in a tunnel near Hrastovlje in SW Slovenia, with an estimated 10,000 litres of kerosene leaking out from two cisterns. Emergency teams reacted immediately and further damage has been prevented but railway traffic, including from the Koper port, is not expected to resume before Friday. While water contamination concerns were raised, the first information by the water supply system operator in Koper suggests that the supply in the region is safe and under control. Explaining the kerosene will reach the groundwater eventually, the operator still called on users to save water. Read more on this story...

Židan, Swedish speaker urge stabilisation of W Balkans

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan and Swedish counterpart Andreas Norlen stressed after their meeting that the two countries' agreed on the the need to stabilise the Western Balkans. They also expressed support for the efforts of the countries in the region to join Euro-Atlantic alliances. Židan was critical of the EU for failing to keep the promises of continued integration for the Western Balkans, especially in light of the name dispute solution for North Macedonia. "This is worrying us," he said. Norlen also met President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar.

Parliament's legal service questions primary school funding motion

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary legal service tore apart the controversial legislative motion on the funding of private primary schools related to a Constitutional Court decision, saying it was questionable in several aspects and even unconstitutional in certain points. The opinion, which primarily notes that the motion in fact worsens the position of private school even though the top court mandated full rather than the current 85% state financing of publicly approved curricula at private primaries, was issued as the parliamentary Education Committee was scheduled to debate the motion as part of its second reading. The discussion was postponed to a later date after the coalition held a meeting on the legal service's opinion.

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Zajc discusses cross-border environmental issues with Italian counterpart

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Environment Minister Simon Zajc raised a couple of Slovenia's environmental concerns as he met his Italian counterpart Sergio Costa on the margins of the EU Council session, expressing worry over cross-border pollution in the Trieste area. They discussed the issue of cross-border emissions of the Aquilinia-based ironworks as well as construction plans for an incinerator which would be placed in close proximity to the Slovenian-Italian border. They agreed on regular communication about the ironworks' success in meeting EU's environmental regulations. Costa will review the current situation and inform Zajc of his findings.

Maribor judge assault was not work-related, police say

MARIBOR - A police investigation into an assault on a Maribor District Court judge has shown the motive for the attack was personal although it initially seemed it was work-related since the judge has been responsible for several high-profile cases. A man has been indicted in relation to the incident and according to unofficial information, he is judge Daniela Ružič's spouse. The investigation of the attack, which drew strong condemnation from Ružič's peers and from politicians, who perceived it as work-related, continues.

Hiša Franko moving up on world's top 50 restaurants list

SINGAPORE, Singapore - Hiša Franko in the town of Kobarid, led by Slovenia's star chef Ana Roš, was declared the 38th best restaurant in the world by the British trade magazine Restaurant in Singapore on Tuesday. The list was topped by French restaurant Mirazur led by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco. This is the second time that Hiša Franko is on the list of the world's top 50 restaurants. It debuted last year, ranking 48th, while Roš was declared the best woman chef by the Restaurant magazine in 2017.

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26 Jun 2019, 02:35 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia receives Statehood Day congratulations from abroad

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor has received congratulations on Statehood Day from numerous heads of state and monarchs, including from Pope Francis, US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Slovenia's Dončić wins NBA Rookie of the Year honours

NEW YORK, US - Slovenian basketball sensation Luka Dončić has crowned his successful first year in the NBA by being selected Rookie of the Year, to become just the second European player ever to win the accolade, after Spain's Pau Gasol in 2002.

Slovenia hosts European-Chinese space data symposium

LJUBLJANA - An international symposium on the Dragon 4 initiative started in Slovenia on Tuesday and will last until Friday. The meeting aims to strengthen European-Chinese cooperation by developing opportunities for using space imaging for various purposes, including in agriculture and to address climate change. The initiative by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Remote Sensing Center of China (NRSCC) has brought together some 600 scientists.

Purič supports strong cohesion policy at EU ministerial meeting

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Minister of Development and Cohesion Policy Iztok Purič called for strong EU cohesion policy in 2021-2027 and against sudden drops in cohesion envelopes as he took part in a session of EU ministers responsible for cohesion in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

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25 Jun 2019, 02:57 AM

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New US chargé d'affaires in Ljubljana appointed

LJUBLJANA - Susan K. Falatko has taken over as the new chargé d'affaires at the US Embassy in Slovenia, succeeding Gautam Rana. Falatko previously headed the US State Department office in charge of the Western Balkans from 2017. Announcing the news, the embassy quoted Falatko as saying that "I look forward to continuing to strengthen our extensive bilateral relationship in the years to come". The US has been without an ambassador in Slovenia since last summer, when Brent Hartley concluded his three-year term. Falatko's predecessor Rana has left for a post in Algeria.

GRECO to evaluate separation of legislative and judicial powers in Slovenia

STRASBOURG, France - The Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has decided to launch an ad hoc evaluation of separation of legislative and judiciary powers in Slovenia. In a press release GRECO said that the decision was taken "against the background of a procedural initiative by the National Council to start investigating the 'political responsibility of state prosecutors and judges'". In mid-June the Slovenian upper chamber of parliament demanded that an investigating commission be established to look into potential political motives of criminal cases brought against National Council member Franc Kangler.

Commissioner presents EUR 109m check for Koper-Divača track

LJUBLJANA - European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc symbolically presented a check of EUR 109 million in EU funds Slovenia had secured for a rail expansion between the port Koper and the inland hub Divača to Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek. The money will be spent to build seven tunnels on the new route. The European Commission has so far earmarked EUR 153 million for Koper-Divača, Bulc said about the project whose total price tag is EUR 1.2 billion. Bratušek said the goal was to launch the new track by 2026, noting Slovenia was in talks with the Commission on another EUR 80 million for the rail expansion.

State is asset in its own right, Pahor says at Statehood Day ceremony

LJUBLJANA - On eve of Statehood Day, President Borut Pahor said having its own state, especially for a nation as small as Slovenia's, was an asset in its own right. He noted as he addressed the national ceremony in Ljubljana the establishment of an independent state 28 years ago was "the most glorious milestone of our national history", and called for creating a tolerant society in which everyone can express themselves freely while also respecting the dignity and freedom of the other. Prior to the ceremony, the National Assembly met for a ceremonial session, and Pahor hosted a reception for the relatives of military, police and civilian victims of the independence war, which broke out when the Yugoslav People's Army attacked the newly-declared state.

PM addresses troops abroad ahead of Statehood Day

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec addressed Slovenian troops stationed abroad, thanking them for their work in a video call on the eve of Statehood Day. He called for a joint celebration of "Slovenia's birthday", without political disputes, adding that "there will be plenty of time for politicking after the holiday". After the conference call with the heads of missions, which took place behind closed doors at the Defence Ministry, Šarec noted that Slovenia contributed significant part of its capacities to preserve peace and stability in the world.

Pahor says political stability could be basis for big projects

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor told the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija late on Sunday that the current political stability in Slovenia could be used to push through major projects such as reforms of the health and pension systems. He assessed Slovenia was a safe country but nevertheless called for enhanced border protection in the light of migrant influx. He said in the interview that he was working well with Prime Minister Marjan Šarec but wished for more cooperation with the main political forces in the country.

Šarec party tops party ranking of POP TV poll

LJUBLJANA - The ruling Marjan šarec List (LMŠ) tops the party ranking of this month's POP TV public opinion poll, which was released on Sunday evening. Support for the LMŠ was at 16.6% this month, followed by the opposition Democrats (SDS) with 15%. The junior coalition Social Democrats (SD) are third with 7.6% support. Support for the government remains relatively high at 53.9%, while 32% of the respondents believe that the cabinet is doing a poor job.

Nearly all distributable profit of Delavska Hranilnica to go for dividends

LJUBLJANA - The Delavska Hranilnica savings bank will allocate nearly all of its distributable profit for dividends, its shareholders decided last week. Owners will get EUR 5 a share, which means that EUR 2.4 million out of a total of EUR 2.5 million in distributable profit will go for dividends. The AGM also backed a new recapitalisation, ordering the management to increase the avings bank's capital stock by EUR 8.9 million through one or more bond issues. In the past three years, the savings bank has already increased its capital stock from EUR 5.8 million to EUR 20.3 million.

Autobiographical debut novel wins Kresnik

LJUBLJANA - The publisher Delo honoured late on Sunday writer Bronja Žakelj with the Kresnik prize, the most prestigious award for novels in Slovenia, recognising her debut Whites Are Washed at 90 (Belo Se Pere na 90) as the best novel of the year. The novel is an autobiography that starts with an idyllic childhood but soon becomes very trying for the author who lost her mother when she was a teenager, then lost a brother and fought cancer herself. Žakelj is only the third woman author to receive the EUR 5,000 prize since it was first handed out in 1991.

Slovenia's Apotekar wins gold in judo at European Games

MINSK, Belarus - Slovenian judoka Klara Apotekar won the gold medal at the European Games in the women's 78 kg category, bringing the medal tally for the country in the sport to two. The 21-year-old athlete from Celje defeated Guusje Steenhuis of the Netherlands in the finals after beating German Luise Malzahn in the semis with an ippon after two and a half minutes of added time. This is the second medal for Slovenia at the competition which replaces the European Judo Championship, after Maruša Štangar won the bronze on Saturday in the women's 52 kg category.

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24 Jun 2019, 06:53 AM

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Slovenia and Italy to launch mixed border patrols on 1 July

ROME, Italy - Slovenia and Italy will launch mixed border patrols on 1 July, Foreign Ministry confirmed a day after Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini made the announcement. The implementation agreement is to be signed in the coming week. The ministry did not say who would sign the agreement, however, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec is due in the Vatican on Thursday.

Ulissi wins Tour of Slovenia

NOVO MESTO - Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) won the 26th Tour of Slovenia. Second place overall went to Italian Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM), third to Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), while Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) in place four was the best Slovenian at the five-day race. The final stage was won by Italian Giacomo Nizzolo (Dimension Data), Slovenian Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) was second and Shane Archbold (Bora-Hansgrohe) of New Zealand was third.

Industrial output up by nearly 10% last year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia-based industrial companies generated EUR 26 billion in revenue last year, 9.4% more than in 2017, data from the Statistics Office show. The office noted however that about 2-3 percentage points should be attributed to the inclusion of additional industries in the index, among them wood processing, metallurgy and machine repairs. Companies making cars and trailers have been at the forefront in the recent years as well as in 2018, when they accounted for nearly 15% of total industrial revenue, followed by production of electric devices (11%) and metallurgy (10%).

Slovenia registers negative birth-to-death rate for second consecutive year in 2018

LJUBLJANA - After years of natural increase in population, Slovenia has seen a natural decrease in population for the second consecutive year in 2018, as the number of births dropped to below 20,000 a year for the first time in a decade. Data from the Statistics Office show that 19,585 people were born in Slovenia last year and 20,485 died. The number of deaths was 0.1% lower than in 2017, while the number of births dropped by 3.2%. Life expectancy for girls born in 2018 is at 84 years and for boys at 78.3 years.

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