Ljubljana related

02 Jun 2019, 23:35 PM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia's Roglič third overall at Giro d'Italia

VERONA, Italy - Primož Roglič finished third overall at the Giro d'Italia for the first ever podium finish for Slovenian cyclists at the Grand Tour races. Ahead of the last stage, a 17-km time trial, the 29-year-old was fourth overall, but he showed his sprinting skills to overtake Spain's Mikel Landa to make it to the podium. The only Slovenian who previously managed to make it to the top ten in Italy was Tadej Valjavec, who was 9th in 2004. "It's funny to think that a small Slovenian can come to Giro and compete with the best," Roglič told Slovenian reporters in Verona Arena after the race.

Hundreds of troops taking part in Adriatic Strike

cerkle ob krki - A ceremony at the army barracks at the Cerklje ob Krki air base launched the annual international Adriatic Strike military exercise. Held in Slovenia for the eighth year running, the week-long exercise will involve 700 personnel, including 350 from 25 allied and partner countries. On the occasion, the Jernej Molan army barrack in the south-east of the country, held an open day so that visitors will be able to see the weapons and equipment of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and a dynamic presentation of aircraft and helicopters participating in the war games.

New umbrella organisation of Serbs in Slovenia formed

LJUBLJANA - A new umbrella organisation of Serbs in Slovenia, the Union of Serbs of Slovenia, was established, bringing together a majority of the 30 currently active associations of Serbs in the country. Today's maiden session of the new organisation was held in the Orthodox Culture and Pastoral Centre adjacent to the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Ljubljana. Marko Sladojević, who heads the working group establishing the Union of Serbs of Slovenia, told the STA the organisation's main objectives will be cherishing the friendly relations between Serbs and Slovenians.

National forest company ups net profit by 10% last year

LJUBLJANA - The state-run enterprise managing national forests had a successful 2018, increasing revenue by 32% to EUR 76.9 million and net profit by 10% to EUR 11.9 million, while operating profit was down by 16% to EUR 14.2 million. Slovenian State Forests (SiDG) sold 1.45 million cubic metres of wood last year at an average price of EUR 50.09 per cubic metre, which is 11 cents more than in 2017. Sales revenue amounted to EUR 72.7 million or 27% more than in 2017, shows the annual report.

Austrian climber found dead on Mt Prisojnik

KRANJSKA GORA - An Austrian climber has died in an accident on the mountain of Prisojnik in the Julian Alps in north-western Slovenia, as she apparently lost her footing and fell down the rocks. A police helicopter located the body of the Austrian on the mountain on Sunday morning after the woman went missing on Saturday evening. The unfortunate climber was taken down the mountain by a military helicopter carrying a mountain rescue and police team.

01 Jun 2019, 02:35 AM

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Slovenia's economy expands by 3.2% in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy expanded by a robust 3.2% annual rate in real terms in the first quarter of 2019 and by as much as 3.7% when adjusted for season and working days, fresh figures from the Statistics Office showed. Although growth in real terms slowed down from the 4.1% recorded in the previous quarter, the seasonally adjusted rate was slightly above the 3.6% from the last quarter of 2018. The quarter-to-quarter slowdown was fuelled by a slowdown in domestic expenditure.

Slovenia's annual inflation rate down to 1.4% in May

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate dropped by 0.3 percentage points to 1.4% in May over April, as significantly higher prices in the group housing were offset by lower prices of alcohol, tobacco and communications, the Statistics Office said. The price group associated with housing accounted for half of the annual inflation rate. The harmonised index of consumer prices, an EU benchmark, stood at 1.6%, down from 1.8% in April.

Mercator posts Q1 group loss of EUR 3.7m as sales decline

LJUBLJANA - Mercator, Slovenia's largest retailer, posted a group net loss of EUR 3.7 million for the first quarter of 2019 compared to a net profit of EUR 1.9 million for the same period last year, as sales declined by 3.1% to just under EUR 500 million, according to preliminary results. Group operating profit (EBIT) rose 5.6% to EUR 9.6 million, with normalised profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up 75% to EUR 39.7 million.

President says European Commission must preserve dialogue with W Balkans

BUDVA, Montenegro - Judging by experience, EU enlargement onto the Western Balkans will not be a key priority of the next European Commission, Slovenia's President Borut Pahor said as he addressed a security forum in Budva. However, efforts must be made to preserve dialogue and negotiations with all countries in the region. Pahor, addressing the To Be Secure conference, reiterated his position that EU enlargement towards the Western Balkans is a geo-political issue.

Slovenian, Hungarian ministers talk coop in digitalisation, AI

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek met Hungarian Minister for Innovation and Technology Laszlo Palkovics to discuss cooperation in digitalisation and artificial intelligence, as Slovenian companies are interested in investing in the emerging automotive industry test track in Zalaegerszeg. The ministers also discussed possibilities for cooperation of Slovenian and Hungarian companies in selling their products and investing in Africa.

Legal experts find no ground to end Hungarian minority MP's term

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan and deputy group heads held a meeting with legal experts to discuss the case of Ferenc Horvath, the MP for the Hungarian minority who continues to head a body governed by public law while also serving as MP. The experts say there is no legal basis for ending the MP term of Horvath, who refuses give up his seat in parliament or resign as the head of the minority's umbrella organisation as he was urged by the anti-corruption commission.

Doctors adamant about new norms, patients not to be affected

LJUBLJANA - The trade union of doctors and dentists, FIDES, remains adamant about the implementation of new workload standards and norms from 1 June on, however, its boss Konrad Kuštrin as well as Health Minister Aleš Šabeder assured the public that the health and life of patients would not be jeopardised. Kuštrin does not expect anything dramatic to happen as doctors start adhering strictly to the norms and standards that they adopted in 2008, because of the less busy season ahead. Šabeder said that some hospitals had already adopted new standards, while most others were in the process of doing so.

Part of Oncology Institute temporarily closed due to staff shortage

LJUBLJANA - A section of the Oncology Institute had to be closed in mid-May due to a shortage of nurses. Eight nurses left the institute this year. After talking to the management, Health Minister Aleš Šabeder said the situation could not be solved overnight, as staff shortage had been a problem in health for a while. The institute director general, Zlata Štiblar Kisić, expects things to return to normal within a month.

Internal audit at BAMC finds no fault in Logatec land case

LJUBLJANA - An internal audit of the controversial sale of a plot by the state-owned bad bank to Swiss Lonstroff for an elastomer plant in Logatec has found the bad bank had not suffered any financial damage in the deal, while some employees did commit several violations, the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) said in a release. Potential irregularities and wrongdoing in the deal were first reported by the media last September and are still being investigated by the police. Since then, the BAMC management has been overhauled. Last month, Lonstroff cleared its Slovenia director Peter Weber of defrauding his company of EUR 1.7 million with the deal.

Ruling in MP Tomić defamation case upheld by higher court

LJUBLJANA - The Higher Court upheld a 2018 ruling by the Ljubljana Local Court ordering media company Nova Hiša, which runs the Nova24TV news portal, to pay opposition Left MP Violeta Tomić EUR 6,000 in damages for an offensive article about her. In August 2017, Nova24TV published a story headlined "Left MP Violeta Tomić in Hotpants on Vis-Bound Ferry 'Airing It Out'", accompanied by anonymous abusive comments on the social media. Both courts said that by running the story, Nova24TV had not discussed any serious matters of public interest, but discredited the plaintiff. Last year, the lawyer representing the media outlet announced appeals all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

Several state-owned companies pledge to respect human rights

LJUBLJANA - Ten companies, most of them in state ownership, signed a pledge to respect human rights in their business operations at a business forum at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The initiative was launched in line with the government's action plan which lists a set of measures and recommendations for the implementation of the UN guidelines for the protection of human rights in business. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said it was key for the the state to be capable of setting up mechanisms to protect human rights.

Unior group's net profit up over 18% in Q1

ZREČE - The group around the Zreče-based tool maker Unior posted a new profit of EUR 6.8 million in the first quarter of the year, up 18.4% over the same period in 2018. Its revenue increased by 8% to EUR 68.2 million. The group's operating profit reached EUR 7.4 million, up 13.8%, according to the unaudited first-quarter report.

Adria Mobil revenue up, profit down in six months

NOVO MESTO - Adria Mobil, one of Europe's leading caravan makers, generated EUR 226.2 million in net sales revenue between September and February, which is up 13.1% year-on-year. Net profit dropped by 11.7% to EUR 19.7 million. The company's business year runs from the beginning of September to the end of August next year in line with the policy introduced after the takeover by the French mobile homes maker Trigano at the end of 2017.

Slovenian canoeists win team event at European Championships

PAU, France- Slovenian canoeists Benjamin Savšek, Anže Berčič and Luka Božič won the team event at the European Canoe Slalom Championships in France's Pau, beating the second-placed French team by a mere 0.16 seconds. The third place went to Russia. This is the second gold medal at the European championships for Slovenia in team events, the first coming in 2014 in Vienna with the same line-up of Savšek, Berčič and Božič. The kayak team followed the success up by grabbing silver.

31 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Pahor and Đukanović talk W Balkans, Montenegro's EU prospects

PODGORICA, Montenegro - President Borut Pahor met his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Đukanović as he started his official visit to the country. They talked about the situation in the Western Balkans and exchanged views on the progress of Montenegro's talks to join the European Union, the president's office said in a press release. He also met Speaker Ivan Brajović and Prime Minister Duško Marković.

Govt formally aborts Mura power project

LJUBLJANA - The government formally aborted plans to build hydro power stations on the river Mura in the north-east. The decision, expectedly inviting mixed responses, was taken after the former environment minister announced in January the project was not viable due to environmental concerns. The Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry said it examined three proposed options for the new facility, finding them all environmentally inappropriate. The local environmental initiative welcomed the decision, while the power utility Dravske Elektrarne Maribor (DEM), which was planning to build the facility regretted it.

Erjavec feels exonerated in arbitration scandal, calls Tonin notorious liar

LJUBLJANA - Former Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec suggested that interviews conducted by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission had confirmed he had been in no way involved in the border arbitration incident with Croatia. He called that commission's chair Matej Tonin a "notorious liar" who is abusing his position and hurting Slovenia by saying that the testimonies by two former directors of Slovenian intelligence agency SOVA and that of arbitration agent Simona Drenik did not add up. Drenik assessed that the revisiting of the arbitration wiretap scandal was politically motivated.

Police union clashes with minister in Schengen border debate

LJUBLJANA - The emergency session of the parliamentary Home Policy Committee called to discuss policing the Schengen border saw a bitter exchange between a police trade union, jointed by the opposition Democrats (SDS), and Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar, who likened the union to para-police. The committee chair Zvonko Černač, a deputy for the SDS who initiated the debate, argued that the government was not doing enough to tackle the crisis on the south border. He argued that asylum legislation was being abused with illegal migrants coming from safe countries such as Pakistan, Algeria or Morocco, while police officers were getting burnt out.

State tourism firm taking shape

LJUBLJANA - The government took a key step towards the creation of a state-owned tourism holding by confirming an investment document facilitating the transfer of several tourism companies onto a special company. The confirmed investment document allows the Bank Assets Management Company to incorporate a special purpose vehicle onto which shares of Istrabenz Turizem, owner of six coastal hotels, will be transferred. This company will form the basis of the State Hospitality Fund, which is "key to the continued consolidation of Slovenian tourism," the government said.

Former PM aide new Environment Agency head

LJUBLJANA - Lilijana Kozlovič, who used to be secretary general of the Miro Cerar government, was named acting director general of the Environment Agency. The interim appointment is for a maximum period of six months or until a fully-fledged director general is appointed. The agency is a large government department with significant power in vetting major infrastructure and energy projects.

Survey unemployment rate at 4.8% in first quarter of 2019

LJUBLJANA - According to the Statistics Office workforce survey, unemployment was at 4.8% in the first quarter of the year, which was half a percentage point higher than in the last quarter of 2018 and 1.1 percentage point lower than in the first three months last year. The survey shows that there were some 50,000 unemployed people in the first quarter of 2019, an 18.3% decrease compared to the same period in 2018.

Managers' Association celebrated 30th anniversary

LJUBLJANA - Marking its 30th anniversary on Wednesday, the Slovenian Managers' Association said that the role of management had changed and become more employee-focused and committed itself to promoting responsible leadership. "In the knowledge economy, the power lies with those who have knowledge for development," said the director of the largest Slovenian association of managers Saša Mrak. The inaugural meeting of the association on 18 May 1989 was attended by some 250 people, while today the association has 1,200 members.

30 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Cerar, Lavrov discuss W Balkans, bilateral cooperation

LJUBLJANA - Topical issues, above all the Western Balkans, dominated the agenda as Foreign Minister Miro Cerar hosted his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for a visit. Addressing a joint press conference, the pair noted good political ties between the two countries. Cerar underlined the importance of the EU's role in the Western Balkans, while Lavrov said all issues in the region must be resolved through dialogue. Bilateral relations and the Ukraine crisis were in the focus as Lavrov met President Borut Pahor and PM Marjan Šarec. The latter will visit Russia in September.

Šarec urges fast appointment of top EU officials

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec called for a rapid "package decision" on the appointments of top EU officials at Monday's post-election EU summit in Brussels. "The outside world will not wait," he said. Šarec, whose LMŠ party is an ALDE member, reiterated his opposition to the Spitzenkandidaten concept, arguing it reduced options too much. He repeated he would like to see Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager, the incumbent competition commissioner, as commission president.

Tonin says testimonies by SOVA bosses, arbitration agent do not add up

LJUBLJANA - Matej Tonin, the chair of the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission, which heard two Slovenian officials that were embroiled in the 2015 border arbitration intelligence scandal, said that the testimonies by two former directors of the intelligence agency and that of arbitration agent Simona Drenik did not add up. "Their testimonies did not match," Tonin said, announcing that the commission would interview on 4 June other former directors of SOVA and continue to check which part of the story held true.

Slovenia hails recommendation to start accession talks with Albania and N Macedonia

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Foreign Ministry welcomed the European Commission's recommendation for the EU to launch accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. The ministry reiterated Slovenia's position that member states should approve the launch at the June summit. The ministry agrees with the Commission that the EU's enlargement policy is a strategic investment in peace, security, progress and stability of Europe.

Poklukar announces additional measures on southern border

ČRNOMELJ - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar visited the south-eastern region of Bela Krajina to assure the locals that the police will introduce video surveillance to boost the protection of the southern border from illegal migration. He labelled the smuggling of persons by organised groups as the biggest problem. After meeting Andrej Kavšek, the mayor of Črnomelj, the minister said the police had been using both visible and concealed measures on the border with Croatia, adding that the statistics showed the police were effective. He added that the police were also being successful in detecting smugglers of illegal migrants, arresting 120 of them this year.

Slovenia honours UN Peacekeepers Day

LJUBLJANA - Observing the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, Slovenia's Foreign Ministry expressed gratitude and respect for professionalism and courage of those deployed in UN operations and missions. The ministry also honoured the UN peacekeepers who lost their lives while striving to preserve peace. So far, Slovenia has taken part in six missions, deploying some 560 soldiers and 140 police officers. In April, 15 soldiers were stationed in Lebanon (UNIFIL mission) and thee in Syria (UNSMIS mission).

Social consensus vital in combat against precarious work

LJUBLJANA - A national debate featuring several ministers and other officials heard that the fight against precarious work required systemic measures and participation of the entire society. The officials urged precarious workers to join trade unions and to report labour law violations. There were an estimated 322,000 precarious workers in Slovenia in 2017, representing 35% of all workers. A strategy to help tackle the issue is expected to be drawn up by next spring.

Bankers discuss regulation, other challenges

LJUBLJANA - Bank regulation and supervision were in the focus of a conference hosted by the Slovenian Bank Association (ZBS) in Ljubljana. ZBS head Stanislava Zadravec Caprirolo urged striking a balance between regulation and supervision to provide for a quality risk management framework without hindering business crediting as the industry's basic mission. Gonzalo Gasos, banking supervision head at the European Banking Federation, described the crisis due to a lack of profitability as a major challenge.

Adria Airways denies seeking govt help

LJUBLJANA - The German-owned air carrier Adria Airways confirmed that its director general Holger Kowarschs visited PM Marjan Šarec last week to discuss cooperation, including during Slovenia's stint as EU presiding country in 2021. However, the company denied the allegation by the news web portal Siol that Adria was seeking the government's help and was threatening to close shop and lay off the employees. "We are actively looking for ways to improve cooperation," Adria said in a press release.

Fisheries inspectorate gets new cutting-edge vessel

PORTOROŽ - The Inspectorate for Agriculture, Forestry, Hunting and Fisheries obtained a new cutting-edge vessel for conducting fisheries inspections and sea rescues. The EUR 400,000 boat was bought in Croatia, with the EU covering 75% of the cost. Next to classic engines, the boat also has electric engines and is equipped with cutting-edge navigation, communication and video systems, including thermographic cameras. The fisheries inspectorate has powers not only on Slovenia's territory but the entire EU territory.

Slovenia world's third safest country for children

WASHINGTON, US - Slovenia, Finland and Norway placed third on the list of the safest countries for children to grow up in globally in the latest End of Childhood index, released by the NGO Save the Children on Tuesday. Slovenia thus slipped from the first place it shared last year with Singapore, which remains the world leader ahead of Sweden. The index takes into account nutrition, access to education, infant mortality, child marriages, child labour, teenage pregnancies and regional conflicts.

SAZU scholars urge protection of Slovenian language

LJUBLJANA - Twenty-eight members of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) sent a letter of protest to the government, parliament and the Constitutional Court, claiming that constitutionally and legally laid down care for the Slovenian language was being neglected. They urged the public to start looking after Slovenian in all areas of life. Their petition mentions "an endless sea of English signs", English lectures at university, and a lack of Slovenian language support in Apple's operating systems.

Fewer graduates last year than decade ago

LJUBLJANA - Last year, 16,680 students in Slovenia completed higher education, which indicates a slight upward trend (+1.3%) over the previous year. On the other hand, the figure shows a decrease of 3.1% compared to ten years ago, according to data released by the Statistics Office. Most of last year's graduates completed business, administration or law studies (some 20% altogether). As in previous years, female graduates (61%) outnumbered male graduates in 2018, except for higher vocational education, where 55.2% of graduates were men.

Locals demand bear and wolf cull

LJUBLJANA - Three local civil initiatives demanded legislative changes and an immediate cull of bears and wolves in areas where livestock is being attacked, in what is an escalation of long-simmering tensions over how to deal with Slovenia's growing population of large carnivores. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Marjan Šarec earlier this week, the civil initiatives demand that hunters immediately shoot the number of bears and wolves designated for culling by the Forest Service but repealed by court.

Public forest service praised for securing billions in gains

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia Forest Service marked its 25 anniversary with officials praising it for having produced net gains of over EUR 10 billion. In the last 25 years the growing stock increased by 58%, increment by 47%, and potential cut by 116%. The value of the growing stock is estimated to have grown from EUR 14 billion to EUR 21 billion. "The forests we have today are much stronger and much more vital, all the disasters notwithstanding," the services' head Damjan Oražem told reporters.

This May coldest since 1991

LJUBLJANA - After a spell of 13 months with above average temperatures, May average in Slovenia will be the lowest since 1991. This month has also been much wetter and duller than usual, with record low amounts of sunshine in some places. The average temperature in the last month of meteorological spring, which ends on Friday, will be two to three degrees Celsius lower than the long-term average, according to the Environment Agency. The rainy spell is expected to stop by Thursday evening across the country.

29 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia wants EU to give N Macedonia accession talks date in June

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec voiced Slovenia's strong advocacy for North Macedonia to get a date for the launch of EU accession talks in June, as he met his counterpart Zoran Zaev. Addressing a joint press conference, Šarec described Zaev's official visit to Slovenia as very important, noting that North Macedonia was at a crossroads. Moreover, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said at a business conference that the countries plan to increase the volume of bilateral trade from EUR 300 million to EUR 500 million over the medium term.

Lawyer Čeferin most likely new Constitutional Court judge

LJUBLJANA - Lawyer Rok Čeferin is the most likely new Constitutional Court judge, as most parliamentary parties backed him in consultations with President Borut Pahor. While the two biggest parties, the opposition Democrats (SDS) and the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) are yet to decide, the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) is more in favour of Janez Pogorelec, while the colaition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) would support either one. The opposition National Party (SNS) and MPs representing the two national minorities did not participate due to absence.

Slovenia remains 37th in IMD competitiveness rankings

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia remains level in the latest World Competitiveness Rankings, retaining 37th place among 63 countries after climbing six places last year. While it made gains in business efficiency, government efficiency and development of infrastructure, it fell behind in economic efficiency. Slovenia slipped four places in economic efficiency to rank 33rd, while gaining seven spots in business efficiency (40th), one spot in infrastructure (27th) and three spots in government efficiency (39th). Singapore tops the IMD rankings, followed by Hong Kong and the US.

Parliament ratifies agreement on Serbian migrant workers

LJUBLJANA - MPs ratified a Slovenia-Serbia agreement governing the employment of Serbian workers in Slovenia. The agreement, which for instance ties Serbian citizens to a single employer for a year, is meant to help address the needs of Slovenian companies and safeguard worker rights, but a rights group has not welcomed it. The agreement, reached under the previous governments in February 2018, is modelled on a similar accord Slovenia had signed with Bosnia, the country from which it has the largest number of foreign workers; Serbia places second.

Parliament transposes EU tax info exchange directives

LJUBLJANA - The MPs endorsed amendments to the tax procedure act that transpose EU directives that expand mandatory automatic exchange of information to potentially aggressive cross-border tax planning arrangements and upgrade mechanisms for resolution of cross-border tax disputes. The government expects that the more transparent tax would enhance trust in the tax system and encourage taxable persons to meet their tax liabilities. As a result of the amendments, legal entities doing business across borders are also expected to be more willing to invest in Slovenia.

Slovenian banks' quarterly profit flat

LJUBLJANA - The brisk pace of profit growth in the Slovenian banking sector after the crisis appears to have tapered off, with banks reporting a cumulative net profit of EUR 130.2 million for the first quarter, up 1.1% over the same period last year. Profit before tax was up 4.8% to EUR 149.5 million, shows a monthly central bank report. Gross revenue dropped by 0.2% to EUR 290.5 million, as net interest revenue rose 6.2% to EUR 165.7 million whereas non-interest revenue was down 7.6% to EUR 124.9 million. Banks' total assets rose 4.8% year-on-year to EUR 39.5 billion.

Environment Ministry moves to have govt scrap Mura hydro plant project

LJUBLJANA - The Environment Ministry proposed to the government to halt the drafting of zoning plans for a potential hydro power plant on the Mura river in the north-east of the country. The ministry has examined three proposed options for the plant and found them all environmentally inappropriate. The proposal comes after the government, acting in line with the coalition agreement, had announced the scrapping of plans for hydro power plants on the river but has not yet rescinded a license granted for the project to state-owned utility HSE in 2005.

Law passed for bids for European Public Prosecutor's Office

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed two sets of legislative amendments that will allow Slovenia to nominate candidates for the European Public Prosecutor's Office, and allow lawyers form the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to do business in Slovenia. The main piece are amendments to the state prosecution service act transpose the EU directive establishing the European Public Prosecutor's Office, an independent supranational prosecution office authorised to investigate, prosecute and bring to judgement crimes against the EU budget.

Prelesnik expected to remain information commissioner

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor consultations with the heads of parliamentary groups to discuss the candidacy of Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik for another term. Prelesnik, who is the only candidate for the post, was backed by a majority of factions although some have not yet come to a formal decision. Two candidates had responded to Pahor's public call for applications for the information commissioner - besides Prelesnik, whose five-year term will end on 17 July, journalist Rajko Gerič applied as well, but later withdrew his candidacy.

Triglav shareholders to get EUR 2.50 dividends

LJUBLJANA - Shareholders of the insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav endorsed the proposal from the management and supervisory boards that EUR 56.8 million in distributable profit or EUR 2.50 gross per share be earmarked for dividends. The proposed payout represents 70% of the consolidated net profit for 2018 or 85% of the insurer's distributable profit. The ex-dividend date is 12 June, Zavarovalnica Triglav said in a press release.

Gorenje no longer public company

VELENJE - The owners of the bonds of Gorenje that continued to be listed on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange after the withdrawal of its shares by the new owner, China's Hisense, agreed to have them delisted. This means the household appliance maker is no longer bound to the responsibilities of a public company. Gorenje will enable the holders of the GV02 bonds to sell them to the issuer at EUR 1,025 plus interest apiece, the company said after an assembly. Hisense acquired 95.4% in Gorenje in mid-2018 and then squeezed out small shareholders to become the sole owner.

Survey shows hiring to continue in second half of 2019

LJUBLJANA - Employers' projections for hiring in the second half of the year are encouraging, shows an Employment Service survey, as companies plan to increase headcount by 2.6% or 31,100 staff. They plan to create some 17,300 new jobs and are mainly looking for staff because of retirement, parental leave and resignations, but also because of the growing demand for their products or services, or expansion of business. The sector expected to employ the most people is construction, where a 9.3% rise is planned, but hiring is also planned in other industries (+6.2%).

Slovenian banks working on instant payment system

LJUBLJANA - The business paper Finance reported that Slovenian banks are working with the national payment processor Bankart to develop a national system for instant peer-to-peer money transfers. Developed in conjunction with Nets, a Danish company, the system will allow transfers of up to EUR 15,000 between the accounts of physical persons and will work in mobile banks and online banks or in mobile apps. Finance says that this requires building an interbank payment system from scratch as domestic transactions of up to EUR 50,000 are currently settled every two hours.

28 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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Parties relieved radicalism has not prevailed in EU

LJUBLJANA - Judging by the yet incomplete results of European parliamentary elections, Slovenian parties find it will be very difficult to form a strong coalition in the European Parliament. They invariably express relief that radical forces fell short of making significant gains. The Democratic Party (SDS), which won the election in partnership with the People's Party (SLS), is hoping for a grand coalition, one that would also include the liberals, while the SocDems, which came second, hope for an alliance "with the the Greens, the left and possibly the liberals" although an alliance of S&D, ALDE and the EPP "cleansed" of radical forces would also be acceptable.

Pahor congratulates MEPs, happy with increase in turnout EU-wide

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor congratulated Slovenia's eight MEPs elected on Sunday, also expressing satisfaction that the average EU turnout increased, exceeding 50%. He is happy that pro-EU forces gained sufficient support to "further develop and strengthen our common European home". "I am sincerely thankful to everybody who cast their vote yesterday. I am particularly happy that turnout was considerably higher on the EU level, somewhat less so in Slovenia, but still higher than five years ago," Pahor said in a written statement for the STA.

Cerar and Petriček discuss coop, EU, W Balkans

CERKLJE NA GORENJSKEM - The Slovenian and Czech foreign ministers, Miro Cerar and Tomaš Petriček, highlighted their efforts for a united EU, urged an open-door policy for the Western Balkans and called for even closer bilateral cooperation as they met in Slovenia. Meeting a day after the EU elections, they expressed hope that a strong, pro-European coalition would be formed in the EU parliament to address the challenges ahead. Cerar and Petriček believe the EU should endorse the launch of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania in June, since this is of utmost importance for stability in SE Europe.

Pahor to pay official visit to Montenegro

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor will start a two-day official visit to Montenegro on Wednesday. He will meet his host, Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović, and attend the 9th regional security forum in Podgorica. This will be the president's first official visit to Montenegro since the country joined NATO, so it is to reaffirm on a symbolic level Slovenia's support to Montenegro's aspiration to join Euro-Atlantic integration, Pahor's office said.

Brglez passing MP seat to SMC, Novak to younger colleague

LJUBLJANA - Two of the eight Slovenian members elected to the European Parliament on Sunday have so far served as MPs, which means their seats will pass to the candidates placing behind them on the respective party ticket in the 2018 general election. Milan Brglez, who made it to the European Parliament on the slate of the SocDems, will be replaced by Dušan Verbič, however for the Modern Centre Party (SMC) on whose ticked Brglez got elected to parliament before defecting to the SD. Ljudmila Novak from the opposition party New Slovenia (NSi) will be replaced at the National Assembly by Tadeja Šuštar.

Petrol tops Delo's list of largest companies revenue-wise

LJUBLJANA - The 300 largest companies in the country generated a total of EUR 45.73 billion in revenue last year, which is 9.7% more than in 2017, while their total net profit was up by 4.1% to EUR 1.77 billion, shows a list by the newspaper Delo. The top 300 companies contributed 45.3% of the total revenue generated by all companies in 2018, which is 0.9 of a percentage point more than in 2017. The largest company in terms of revenue was the fuel retailer Petrol with EUR 4.4 billion. It is followed by the power producer Gen-I (EUR 2.38 billion), the Renault car assembly plant Revoz (EUR 1.78 billion), the power utility HSE (EUR 1.52 billion) and the drug maker Krka (EUR 1.28 billion).

Railways operator commissions additional passenger trains

LJUBLJANA - National rail operator Slovenske Železnice signed a EUR 151 million contract with German train maker Stadler to buy 26 new passenger trains. This comes after the company already commissioned 26 new trains from Stadler in April 2018. The first trains are to arrive and be tested by the end of the year. This is part of the operator's plan to overhaul the passenger services in the country, which are marred by outdated trains, many of which do not even have AC, and low travel speeds.

Impol enters business deal with BMW

SLOVENSKA BISTRICA - Impol, a leading Slovenian aluminium producer, has recently entered a deal to supply German car producer BMW with aluminium rods for the bodyworks of new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The deal, worth EUR 40 million, will make the group BMW's direct supplier for at least five years. To meet the demand, Impol will build a new production facility spanning 3,000 square metres in Slovenska Bistrica. The investment is estimated at almost EUR 6.5 million, of which almost EUR 4 million will be spent on new equipment. Production is meanwhile expected to be launched at the end of 2020 or at the beginning of 2021.

Almost third of natural habitats in Slovenia doing poorly, report finds

LJUBLJANA - Animals and natural habitats in Slovenia are not doing very well, suggests a report by the Institute for Nature Conservation, calling for measures to protect the environment. The conservation status of more than half of species has been labelled as unfavourable, while almost a third of habitats are doing poorly. The animal situation is the most worrying for amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies, followed by beetles, fish, crabs, reptiles and bats. The most problematic habitat areas are inland waters, grasslands, moors and marshes.

Dušan Merc new head of Slovenian Writers' Association

LJUBLJANA - Novelist Dušan Merc was elected the new president of the Slovenian Writers' Association (DSP). He was the only candidate for the post, vacated earlier this year due to Aksinija Kermauner's resignation. Merc, 66, will serve until the end of 2020, when the current three-year term runs out. This is the second election for the DSP in less than a year after poet and playwright Ivo Svetina resigned last July. Kermauner resigned after six months on the job, citing her disagreement with the state's attitude towards the DSP, notably a considerable lack of funds it provides for its activities.

Fake doctor gets suspended prison sentence

LJUBLJANA - Media reported that the Ljubljana Local Court had ruled in the case of a 29-year old woman who posed as a doctor in Izola at the end of 2016. The woman, who later also tried to pass as a nurse in Trbovlje, received a suspended prison sentence of five years on three years probation for forgery. The woman's degree certificates were fraudulent and she registered as a doctor with the Medical Chamber using a copy of a fake diploma. The Trbovlje hospital demands that she return the pay she received while working there for a month and a half.

25 May 2019, 03:14 AM

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SDS+SLS lead latest polls ahead of LMŠ, SD

LJUBLJANA - The latest public opinion polls ahead of Sunday's EU elections see the joint list of the Democrats and People's Party (SDS+SLS) as the front runner, followed by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Social Democrats (SD). New Slovenia (NSi), the Left and the Pensioners Party (DeSUS) also appear to be serious contenders. Pollster Valicon, the only one that had seat projections, gave SDS+SLS 2-3 seats, with LMŠ and the SD both within reach of 1-2 seats. The remaining seats are likely to be divided among the NSi, the Left and the DeSUS.

Final TVS debate before election dominated by Ibiza scandal

LJUBLJANA - The Ibiza corruption scandal in Austria, the proposed setting up of mixed Slovenian-Italian border patrols and populism were the main topics of the last EU election debate aired by the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija on Thursday evening. The candidates mostly condemned corruption and populism, and said they had never been personally involved in corruption. Only the candidates of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Modern Centre Party (SMC) backed the idea by Foreign Minister Miro Cerar for joint police patrols on the border with Italy.

Early voting turnout 70% higher than in 2014 EU election

LJUBLJANA - Early voting in the elections to the European Parliament, which was available in Slovenia between Tuesday and Thursday, saw a nearly 70% higher turnout than five years ago, the National Electoral Commission announced, interpreting this as a good sign for the main vote on Sunday. Nearly 31,360 voters or 1.84% of the electorate turned out, while five years ago, the turnout was 18,483 or 1.09%. While the early voting took place at 59 locations, Slovenians will be able to cast their votes at 3,005 locations between 7am and 9pm on Sunday.

NLB bank's Q1 net profit flat at EUR 58 million

LJUBLJANA - NLB, Slovenia's largest bank, reported a net profit of almost EUR 58m for the first quarter of the year, up marginally from the same quarter in 2018. Total net operating income amounted to EUR 133.8 million, a 3% increase year-on-year, underpinned by higher net interest income, which rose 6%, and higher net fees and commissions, which were up 2%. The volume of gross non-performing loans dropped by EUR 43.1 million (7%) over the end of 2018.

Luka Koper reports stagnant Q1 profit

KOPER - Port operator Luka Koper reported a net profit of EUR 14.4 million for the first quarter of this year, up 1% over the year before. Sales revenue rose 8% in the same period to EUR 60.7 million, show unaudited results. EBITDA slipped 1% to EUR 24.4 million, as did pre-tax profit (EBIT), which totalled EUR 17.1 million. The figures reflect a significant decline in total tonnage the port handled, which contracted by 3% to six million tonnes. The company spent EUR 12 million on investments in fixed assets, a nearly six-fold increase over the same period last year.

Traffic safety boss sacked over road conduct

LJUBLJANA - Igor Velov, the head of the Traffic Safety Agency, was dismissed by the government after days of media reports about unusual conduct with the agency's car, which was found near the post office of Velov's home town parked and locked, with a punctured front tire and damage to the front and rear. Police looked into the matter and found nothing suspicious, but tabloids found two witnesses who saw him step out of the car said there was no doubt he had been drunk.

Tourist arrivals, nights up 3% in Q1

LJUBLJANA - More than 921,000 tourist arrivals and more than 2.5 tourist nights were recorded in Slovenia in the first quarter of the year. Both figures are by 3% higher than the ones from the same period in 2018, shows data released by the Statistics Office (SURS). The two figures for foreign tourists and nights they spent in Slovenia in the same period was up almost 1% and 2% year on year, respectively. Italy was the most important market for Slovenia in both the first quarter and March, with Italian tourists accounted for 16% of all tourist nights in March.

Business sentiment down y/y, slightly up compared to April

LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia in May deteriorated over May 2018 but was slightly higher than in April, according to data released by the Statistics Office. The index was at 7.8 percentage points (p.p.), one point higher than in April and 4.5 p.p. lower than a year ago. Year on year, the index was dragged down by a drop in sentiment in manufacturing, as well as the services sector. The retail sector had a positive effect on the index. The monthly increase was attributed to an improved business sentiment in manufacturing, in retail and among consumers.

A year on, GDPR pushes up requests for personal data abuse inspections

LJUBLJANA - Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect across the EU a year ago, the Slovenian Information Commissioner Office has detected an increase in the number of requests for inspections into personal data use. Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik believes this show the public knows the GDPR quite well. In 2017, Prelesnik's office conducted 655 inspections, while by mid-May this year, the number has already exceeded 500. Moreover, her office received nearly 70 official reports about personal data violations between 25 May 2018, when the regulation took effect, and the end of the year.

Koper club wins first national title

KOPER - Sixt Primorska, a basketball club from Koper, emerged from the shadow of its bigger and more storied rivals by winning its first national championship title to become only the fifth team in Slovenia to win the championship. Defeating Petrol Olimpija 68:63 for a perfect 3:0 run in the final series, Sixt Primorska clinched its fourth title of the year, having already won the national cup, the super cup, and the second division of the Aba League.

Photos by Wilhelm Heiliger on display at Pilon Gallery

AJDOVŠČINA - An exhibition of works by Slovenian-born photographer Wilhelm Heiliger opened at the Pilon Gallery in Ajdovščina. Dubbed Meditation and Photography, the exhibition is a part of a joint project of six Slovenian galleries presenting Heiliger's art. Exhibitions presenting Heiliger will be set up in galleries in Nova Gorica, Lendava, Kranj, Sežana and Radovljica between May and December. The exhibition in Ajdovščina, open until 16 June, will showcase Heiliger's recent photographs taken in the Goriško and Kras regions.

23 May 2019, 23:25 PM

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Pahor and Finnish President Niinistö urge focus on what unites EU

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and his visiting Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö stressed the need for the EU to continue to focus on what its people have in common and what unites them as they met in Ljubljana. Pahor said he was content that Finland would take over the EU presidency in the first half of the year, meaning in the period after the EU election that will be marked by a complex process of a transformation of the bloc's institutions and their leadership. Niinistö spoke of the need to find an original European spirit, arguing views can differ but results will still come if there is a shared spirit. He also met PM Marjan Šarec and Speaker Dejan Židan.

Environment ministry pushes for special climate change bill

LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Simon Zajc announced he would like the government to adopt a special bill to facilitate fighting against climate change. He believes having a special law is important to secure a broad political consensus. "The bill is important because we want the goal we'll set for 2050 to enjoy a very broad political consensus." At EU level, Slovenia will advocate setting a goal of reaching a neutral society by 2050, said Zajc, noting this put Slovenia among the ambitious EU members.

GZS head issues stirring appeal against agreed minimum wage growth

LJUBLJANA - Seeming to step up what trade unions have called a push by employers against fully enforcing the minimum wage increase backed by parliament last year, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) director general Sonja Šmuc described the increase as a rushed step that would cause major damage, including to the most vulnerable groups. Trade unions and the Left called these claims as exaggerated.

Russian FM Lavrov paying working visit next week

LJUBLJANA - Russian FM Sergey Lavrov will pay a working visit to Slovenia on 28 and 29 May to meet Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar as well as President Borut Pahor and PM Marjan Šarec, announced the Foreign Ministry, adding the visit was a continuation of bilateral dialogue. Lavrov and Cerar are expected to discuss bilateral relations, economic cooperation, and topical issues in the international community. Lavrov will also attend the unveiling of a bust of Davorin Hostnik (1853-1929), the author of the first Slovenian-Russian dictionary, in Šmartno pri Litiji.

TV Slovenija poll shows win for SDS+SLS, LMŠ as runner-up

LJUBLJANA - A poll commissioned by the public broadcaster TV Slovenija shows the joint list of the Democrats (SDS) and People's Party (SLS) as the likely winners of the EU election with a four-point lead on the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ). The SDS+SLS list polls at 21.2%, with the LMŠ at 17.4% and the Social Democrats (SD) in third at 13.4%. New Slovenia (NSi) polled at 8.4%, the Left at 6.8% and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at 6.4%. The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) at 4.1%, National Party (SNS) at 3.1%, Greens at 2.3% and Modern Centre Party (SMC) at 1.2% are the only other lists that polled above 1%.

Krka Q1 net profit up 42% y/y to EUR 70.3m

NOVO MESTO - The pharma company Krka reported a net profit of EUR 70.4 million at group level for the first quarter of 2019, a 42% increase year-on-year. Revenue increased by 12% to EUR 378.5 million. The group recorded EUR 72.2 million of operating profit, a 17% year-on-year increase, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) amounted to EUR 99.9 million, a 10.5% improvement. Krka, which generates 94% of its sales on foreign markets, saw sales increase in all regions, but the largest absolute increase was recorded in East Europe, where sales grew by 15% to EUR 122.1 million. Revenue in Slovenia was up 3% to EUR 22 million.

Intereuropa's profit down in Q1

KOPER - Logistics company Intereuropa reported a net profit of EUR 831,000 for the first quarter of the year, down 35% on the year before, even as sales revenue rose 2% to EUR 39.7 million. Profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) slumped by 18% year-on-year to EUR 2.9 million, and operating profit was down 37% to EUR 1.3 million, the company said. Net financial debt was reduced by EUR 1.6 million compared to the end of 2018, to EUR 58.6 million.

Traffic safety supremo on chopping block over road conduct

LJUBLJANA - The man in charge of Slovenia's Traffic Safety Agency appears on the way out after he damaged an agency car in suspicious circumstances that he has been unwilling to explain. The governing board of the Traffic Safety Agency proposed today that Igor Velov be relieved of his duties after his car was found damaged earlier this week in what tabloids have suggested may have been drunk driving.

Slovenia mulling full ESA membership

PARIS, France - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek met with Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) Johann-Dietrich Wörner to discuss the possibility of Slovenia becoming a full-fledged member of the agency. Slovenia has been an associate member since December 2016, with its membership being valid until 2021, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology said in a press release.

Two arrested after 300kg of heroin found in Koper last year

KOPER - Two suspected drug traffickers have been arrested after the police discovered more than 300 kilos of high-purity heroin in the port of Koper in April 2018, in what is one of the biggest drug busts in Slovenia in 20 years. The police, who are still searching for another two suspects, estimate the drug would net EUR 30-50 million, according to Koper Criminal Police head Dean Jurič. The drug was found when customs officers decided to check a container which arrived on a Turkish ship from Iran and was addressed to a company in the Ljubljana area.

More conflicts in prison last year, but fewer drugs

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian prisons recorded more conflicts and escapes last year, but there were fewer drug finds and assaults on employees, show prison statistics for 2019. Prison guards had to use restraint much more often, 120 times, as the number of conflicts between inmates rose to 231 along with the number of incidents requiring that the offender be moved to a separate space, Jasmin Musić, the head of the security department at the Prison Administration, told the press. On the other hand, the number of assaults on prison employees nearly halved to 12, with the number of drug finds decreasing as well, to 365.

Dummy bomb smuggled past security at Ljubljana airport in test

LJUBLJANA - The public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported that a security inspector of the Civil Aviation Agency pretending to be a passenger managed to bring a dummy explosive device past the checkpoints at the Jože Pučnik Airport Ljubljana last week. Citing unofficial but reliable sources, TV Slovenija said that the dummy explosive device went undetected by a member of the security personnel from GS4, a private security firm the airport operator Fraport Slovenija outsources security to. In correspondence with TV Slovenija, Civil Aviation Agency director Rok Marolt confirmed the agency had carried out a security check at the Ljubljana airport last week.

More measles cases this year already than in entire 2018

LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) has registered twelve cases of measles in Slovenia this year so far, including in a child who had not been vaccinated. The number of cases indicates an increase compared to last year, when nine cases were registered. Travelling, migrations and some parents' refusal to vaccinate their children also contribute to the increase. The majority of measles cases in Slovenia result from contracting the disease abroad, said the Health Ministry. Among this year's cases, three patients have been infected that way.

Icons from leading Russian museums on display in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - A collection of more than 80 icons from leading Russian museums will be on display at the City Museum in Ljubljana from this evening until 15 September. The exhibition Icons: Treasures from Russian Museums will be accompanied by the project Was ist Kunst Hugo Ball by art collective Irwin. The selected 85 icons from Russia's three biggest museums - the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Sergiev Posad State History and Art Museum and the Yaroslavl Art Museum - offer a unique insight into the Russian culture and spirituality, the museum said.

Desetnica Prize goes to poet and writer Roza

LJUBLJANA - Author, actor and street theatre producer Andrej Rozman - Roza has won this year's Desetnica Prize for youth literature for his collection of poems Pesmi iz Galerije (Poems from the Gallery). Pesmi iz Galerije is a witty and educational take on 35 celebrated paintings which are part of the National Gallery's permanent collection, said the Slovenian Writers' Association (DSP), which gives out the award.

Jan Polanc takes pink jersey at Giro d'Italia

GENOA, Italy - Slovenian cyclist Jan Polanc won the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia after finishing in the leading group of cyclists in stage 12 of the race. Polanc (UAE Emirates) is followed in the overall rankings by Slovenia's star rider Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), in what is the first Slovenian double lead ever at the Giro. Polanc finished sixth in today's stage, 25 seconds behind Italy's Benedetti Cesare, while Roglič was 24th.

Slovenia to host ice hockey division I world championship in 2020

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Slovenia performed poorly at the recent IIHF World Championship Division I in Kazakhstan, but a consolation prize is coming as the country is to be selected to host the second-tier world championship in 2020 and have a chance to return to the ice hockey elite with support of the home crowd. The formal decision to select the host of the 2020 World Championship Division I will be made on Friday, but it is already clear that this will be Slovenia as the country has remained the only candidate. Like in 2010, the tournament will be held in Ljubljana's Stožice Arena. The date of the event will be determined at Friday's IIHF congress in Bratislava.

23 May 2019, 09:00 AM

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Germany-Portugal-Slovenia trio discusses EU presidency plans

BERLIN, Germany - The first meeting of the foreign ministers of the Germany-Portugal-Slovenia trio that is to successively preside over the Council of the EU in 2020-2021 showed the countries have similar views on the bloc's challenges and priorities, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said after talks in Berlin. Hosted by Germany's Heiko Maas and attended by Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva and Slovenia's Miro Cerar, the meeting brought a debate on the importance of the rule of law, on the situation of the EU, including its relations with China and Africa.

SDS+SLS in lead in Valicon EU poll ahead of LMŠ and SD

LJUBLJANA - The Valicon poll projects for the partnership between the opposition Democratic Party and non-parliamentary People's Party (SDS+SLS) to win Sunday's EU election in Slovenia, ahead of PM Marjan Šarec's LMŠ party. Each are projected to secure two of the eight seats in the European Parliament reserved for Slovenia. The coalition Social Democrats (SD) are also close to securing two seats and the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) is likely to win one, while it is still open who will get the final seat. It may either go to one of the smaller parties or to SDS+SKD, LMŠ or the SD.

Courts continue to reduce backlog in 2018, spatial issues persist

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian courts continued to reduce the backlog from the past in 2018 and also brought down the processing time for new cases, Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič said as he presented the annual report on the work of the judiciary. Slovenian courts received 840,000 new cases in 2018, while they solved 853,000, meaning the number of open cases was reduced by 9% compared to 2017 to 145,000. The average duration of proceedings also continued to decrease, with the exception of succession, adversary and some other proceedings.

Left seeks greater parliamentary powers over troop deployment

LJUBLJANA - The Left tabled a motion to give the National Assembly the final say over deployment of Slovenian Armed Forces personnel in international military operations, ending government prerogative on the matter. The current system is "opaque and undemocratic," Left MP Matej T. Vatovec said as he presented amendments to the defence act. The party claims the change would "create space for public debate," with members of parliament assuming responsibility. Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said the ministry was working on legislative changes of its own and does not support the Left's motion.

GZS optimistic about exports, added value and investments

LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) is happy with record aggregate revenue and profit posted by Slovenian companies in 2018, and is optimistic about 2019 and 2020. It anticipates 7% growth in sales, 6% growth in added value and 8% growth in investment for this year. Revenue generated by companies in Slovenia in 2018 exceeded EUR 100 billion for the first time, with a record EUR 4.2 billion posted in net profit, according to data from Agency for Public Legal Records (AJPES).

Opportunities for boosting business with Germany still exist

LJUBLJANA - Germany is Slovenia's top trade partner and last year's trade between the countries was record high but there is still room for boosting business ties and increasing exports to Germany, heard the participants of an event hosted by the Slovenian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Slovenia's exports to Germany have been growing by 5-6% a year, reaching EUR 6.3 billion last year. There are however still many opportunities for Slovenian companies in the German market, stressed the chamber's head Gertrud Rantzen. She highlighted the automotive industry among the industries with the most potential.

Slovenia advocates digital transformation at OECD ministerial

PARIS, France - Slovenia stressed the importance of digital transformation, especially in business and education at the annual OECD ministerial. Today's meeting, which adopted new OECD principles on artificial intelligence, was attended by four Slovenian ministers, with the minister of economic development and technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, saying beforehand that Slovenia was aware of the fact that e-skills would play a crucial role in the retraining of staff in the future. The ministry has also drawn up a special programme to support the digitalisation and digital transformation of SMEs with EUR 32.8 million in state funds.

Majority of EU election candidates sign ethics vow

LJUBLJANA - About two-thirds of candidates running in the European Parliament election in Slovenia have signed a vow of transparency and ethics initiated by Transparency International Slovenia (TI Slovenia). Those who signed it promised to strive for transparency, responsibility and integrity in public institutions and in policy making and implementation. The document was signed by all or nearly all candidates of the Social Democrats (SD), the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), New Slovenia (NSi), the Good State, Let's Connect and the Modern Centre Party (SMC).

Slovenian beehive newest addition to Vatican Gardens

VATICAN CITY - A Slovenian beehive became the newest addition to the Vatican Gardens. It was presented by Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec to Pope Francis during an audience to convey to the Holy See the message of World Bee Day, and highlight Slovenia's efforts for bee conservation.

City wins legal battle in Rog squat dispute, users determined to stay

LJUBLJANA - In what could be a key development in the stand-off involving Ljubljana's squatted former bicycle factory Rog, the city authorities have won ownership lawsuits against eight of Rog's users. The city is ready to start with a commercial makeover of the arts centre, but the Rog community, albeit ready for dialogue, maintains nothing has changed. Rog, which developed into an alternative arts and social centre in 2006, saw tensions boil over in 2016, when an attempt to bulldoze some of its buildings was prevented via "passive resistance" by the centre's users.

Bird poaching more prevalent in Slovenia than believed

LJUBLJANA - Based on the so far collected data on bird poaching in Slovenia between 2000 and 2018, the Bird Watching Association (DOPPS) has determined that up to 50,000 Slovenian birds are poached or killed every year. Slovenia thus appears to be not only a transit country for bird smugglers but also a source country. Before collecting the data, the association assumed that Slovenia a sort of an oasis where birds were safe from poaching, particularly compared to Italy and the Balkan countries.

Slovenia one of Europe's most biodiverse countries

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is among the European countries with the biggest diversity of flora and fauna. Some 24,000 species have been recorded, among them 800 animal and 66 plant species that are endemic, which means they are found only in Slovenia. This data was released by the United Nations in a recent report that highlights the dangers of extinction faced by millions of plant and animal species, the Environmental Ministry pointed out on International Day for Biological Diversity.

Slovenian climbers hit virgin trails in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, US - Slovenian mountaineers Janez Svoljšak in Miha Zupin completed a series of climbs in remote mountains of Alaska, pioneering five complex routes and conquering three virgin peaks in the process between mid-March and mid-April. They pioneered routes in the total length of 4,250 metres in the mountains above the Revelation Glacier. The longest and toughest to descend was a 1,300 metre Slovenian route up Apocalypse North, a 2,750 metre peak never climbed before.

Exhibition explores Alan Ford comics phenomenon

LJUBLJANA - An exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the first edition of the Italian comic book Alan Ford, which gained a cult following in the former Yugoslavia, will open in the evening at the National Gallery featuring original drawings. Entitled Alan Ford Runs a Lap of Honour, the exhibition will present 162 original comic book pages written by Max Bunker and illustrated by Magnus between 1969 and 1975 - issues #1 to #75.

22 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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Bill providing recourse over bail-in passes first reading

LJUBLJANA - A government-sponsored bill designed to provide legal recourse for holders of subordinated bank liabilities who were wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout was endorsed on first reading at the National Assembly although MPs expect improvements in later stages of the legislative procedure. All deputy factions voiced their support for the belated bill, which should have been adopted by May 2017 under a Constitutional Court decision that held that subordinated creditors and shareholders did not have sufficient access to recourse under existing legislation.

MPs reject SDS proposal for demographic fund

LJUBLJANA - MPs voted down a proposal by the opposition Democrats (SDS) that conceived the emerging demographic fund as a single roof for all of the state's assets with the goal of shoring up the pension system. Most MPs find the more restrained version of the fund recently outlined by the Finance Ministry to be more appropriate. Unlike the ministry, whose soon expected proposal is likely to have the fund focus on the state's portfolio investments and keep Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) in tact as the manager of strategic investments and the fund's second pillar, the SDS proposed dismantling SSH and pooling all of the state assets.

Červek returns to helm of National Review Commission

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly appointed Samo Červek as the new president of the National Review Commission. Červek, who already ran the commission between July 2006 and November 2008, is succeeding Borut Smrdel, who resigned on 3 April after almost seven years citing pressure on the commission and the questioning of its integrity. Review procedures and public procurement in the country have been subject to criticism for years, in particular in connection to delays in major infrastructure projects.

Three members of Permanent Court of Arbitration appointed

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly appointed Verica Trstenjak, Ana Stanič and Jure Vidmar new Slovenian members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Having been put forward by President Borut Pahor following consultations with the parliamentary parties, they will join Maša Zgonec-Rožej to fill the four seats in the court reserved for Slovenia. Mirjam Škrk is meanwhile bidding farewell from the Hague-based court as her term expires on 4 August.

Police data show surge in illegal migration

LJUBLJANA - The police have bee registering a rapid increase in the number of illegal border crossing cases with the latest data showing more than 3,000 cases handled in the first four months of the year, which compares to 1,300 in the same period a year ago. There has been a significant increase in the number of illegal migrants from Algeria, Pakistan and Morocco. More than 1,260 migrants asked for asylum until end of April this year, an increase of 25% year-on-year.

OECD corrects Slovenia growth forecast

LJUBLJANA - The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) downgraded its forecast for Slovenia's economic growth for this year by 0.2 percentage points to 3.4%, while upgrading the 2020 forecast by 0.4 points to 3.1%. The OECD expects that private consumption will increase this year by 3% and by 3.1% in 2020 and companies investments in fixed assets will expand by 8% this year and by 7.2% in 2020), with exports growing by 5.8% this year and 7% in 2020.

Early voting begins in EU elections

LJUBLJANA - The voters unable to turnout at the polls on Sunday, can cast their ballots in the elections to the European Parliament early between Tuesday and Thursday. 59 polling stations were set up for the purpose around the country, mostly at the headquarters of district electoral commissions. On election day, around 3,060 polling stations will be open from 7am to 7pm across Slovenia plus another 31 at the country's diplomatic missions around the globe.

Cerar says Slovenia has well-functioning diplomatic network

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar addressed an event at the Foreign Ministry ahead of Slovenian Diplomacy Day, 22 May, saying that Slovenian diplomacy as a whole functioned well. He finds it important that Slovenian diplomacy is responsive, that it adapts itself creatively to new circumstances and recognises new opportunities. Cerar told Slovenian diplomats and members of the diplomatic corps, Cerar said that diplomats were no longer dealing only with standard political, security and geo-strategic topics.

World Bee Day marked at UN

NEW YORK,US/ROME, Italy - The role of bees and other pollinators for humanity, sustainable development and the elimination of hunger was highlighted as the Slovenian mission at the UN held a ceremony marking World Bee Day at the UN's Trusteeship Council Chamber in New York on Monday. UN officials praised Slovenia for initiating the designated day and for keeping bees on the UN's agenda. An Event celebrating World Bee Day was also held at the FAO headquarters in Rome.

Name of holiday celebrating Primorska to remain unchanged

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly failed to overturn an upper chamber veto of a proposal to rename the holiday celebrating Slovenia's reunification with the western region of Primorska. A group of MPs lead by the coalition SocDems' Matjaž Nemec had wanted to replace "vrnitev" or the "return" of the region to Slovenia as part of the Paris Peace Treaty with "priključev" or "integration/annexation". Opponents successfully argued that in international law annexation denotes forcible acquisition of territory and that the proposal, even if meant to echo the way the development is called by the people of Primorska, was harmful.

Minister Pivec talks bees, wine, CAP during Italy visit

ROME, Italy - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec met Italian Agriculture Ministry State Secretary Alessandra Pesce. The pair highlighted the problem of counterfeit honey and the need for protective measures at the level of the EU. Pivec also said Slovenia was ready to cooperate with Italy in cross-border efforts to secure protected designation of origin status for the Rebula wine in the Brda-Collio area. Also, forestry was identified as a priority area where the two countries need to strengthen concrete cooperation.

Bishops oppose public exposure of priests accused of child abuse

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Bishops' Conference expressed regret after a Catholic civil initiative publicly named priests suspected of child abuse. But the bishops said they were willing to cooperate with civil initiatives and state authorities providing assistance to victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The bishops regret that alleged abusers should be named before being proven guilty, urging for preservation of the dignity of victims as well as of suspected offenders.

Survey shows doctors exposed to violence at work

LJUBLJANA - A survey carried out among members of the Medical Chamber has shown that a majority of doctors and dentists have been exposed to physical or psychological violence from patients or their relatives, while more than one-third have been exposed to violence from their superiors or colleagues. Presenting the results, representatives of the chamber said that physical or psychological violence suffered by healthcare workers was a serious problem.

Intel agency seeking undercover agents with public job ad

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency (SOVA) has made an unprecedented decision to enlist new agents by publishing a job ad in newspapers and online. The agency is looking to fill seven job vacancies, including for analysts, tech staff and legal personnel, as well as two jobs described as "acquisition of data with covert cooperation". SOVA said the job ad was "another step towards the stated goal of improved transparency". SOVA director Rajko Kozmelj told the media this was a "step towards rejuvenating the agency", while it would also help prevent nepotism in staffing. He added all candidates would be checked extremely thoroughly.

Gorjup reappointed GZS president

LJUBLJANA - The assembly of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) appointed Boštjan Gorjup for a second two-year term as the chamber's president. The CEO of BSH Hišni Aparati, the Slovenian subsidiary of the Bosch and Siemens Home Appliance Group, pledged to build on constructive and positive relations within the GZS and with the government, trade unions and other employer organisations. His list of priorities includes boosting internationalisation and value added.

Stock market capitalisation up 12% last year

LJUBLJANA - The favourable economic situation in Slovenia reflected in the domestic capital market last year, with total market capitalisation of the financial instruments listed on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange increasing by more than 12% to EUR 33.37 billion, according to a report by the Securities Market Agency. The bulk represented bonds (EUR 27.02 billion), while total market capitalisation of all shares combined was EUR 6.35 billion.

Sava Re shareholders to get EUR 0.95 gross dividends

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of Sava Re, Slovenia's second largest insurance group, endorsed the proposal that EUR 14.7 million in distributable profit be used for dividends at 95 cents gross per share, 15 cents more than last year. The remaining EUR 16.3 million will remain undistributed. The largest shareholder is Slovenian Sovereign Holding with a 20% stake. The dividends will be paid out on 14 June. The group's net profit rose by 38.3% last year to a record EUR 43 million.

Hurra Studios wins start-up of the year award

MARIBOR - The company Hurra Studios' Little Heroes start-up project, creating personalised children's books, was declared the Slovenian start-up of the year at a ceremony during the Podim start-up conference in Maribor. The company has so far attracted more than 600,000 customers, with the number expected to rise to 1.5 million by the end of this year.

Celje archaeological pavilion wins European Heritage Award

CELJE - A pavilion located in Celje's main square that showcases archaeological finds is one of the winners of this year's European Heritage Awards, conferred by the European Commission and Europa Nostra, an organisation protecting and promoting Europe's cultural and natural heritage. The judging panel said that the "elegantly designed building has enriched the cultural heritage of the town centre and successfully informs both the local community and tourists about the city's past".

Druga Godba world music festival gets under way

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's leading world music festival, Druga Godba, kicked open at Ljubljana's Channel Zero with Ar Ker, featuring Seb Brun, one of the most active musicians on the French noise jazz scene. Running until Saturday in Ljubljana and Maribor, the 35th annual festival will see a total of 16 concerts. The acts come from eleven countries, with US guitarist Yonatan Gat and Ukrainian folk quartet DakhaBrakha two of the highlights.

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