Ljubljana related

21 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Šarec stresses decision on potential Mali and Lebanon withdrawal still open

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec stressed that a decision on Slovenia's potential withdrawal from the peacekeeping missions in Mali and Lebanon had not yet been taken. "No decision has been taken," Erjavec told press after Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said last week that the Defence Ministry was considering such a move. Erjavec expressed regret that Cerar had disclosed the details of "what is a confidential procedure" and explained the Defence Ministry was "constantly monitoring all missions, including the degree of risks involved". Šarec said the government remained to deliberate on this on the basis of an expert evaluation.

SDS proposes tightening asylum legislation

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) filed to parliament a bill to change the international protection act so that a foreigner entering Slovenia from a safe country could not ask for asylum in Slovenia. "The idea is to avoid the mass abuse of asylum applications," MP Branko Grims said. The SDS also proposes that all criminal acts and even reasonable suspicion that a foreigner has committed a crime are treated as a reason to deny the foreigner the asylum procedure or stop it when it has already started. The party would also like the period in which a migrant has to file the asylum request to be shortened to three days after entering Slovenia.

Hungarian minority MP determined to hold two offices

LENDAVA - Ferenc Horvath, the MP representing the Hungarian minority in Slovenia, will not give up his seat or resign as the head of the minority's umbrella organisation after the anti-corruption commission urged him to do so. "I haven't resigned as the head of the council of the Pomurje Self-Governing National Community", he saod after its session. He said the law to which the anti-corruption watchdog had referred when citing the rules on incompatibility of offices did not apply to MPs. Horvath explained he had decided not to resign as the minority's umbrella organisation's leader based on legal opinions, amd announced he would use all legal means to prove his case.

Speakers laud Slovenia-Switzerland cooperation

LJUBLJANA - Marine Carobbio Guscetti, the speaker of the lower chamber of the Swiss National Assembly, met her counterpart Dejan Židan during her official visit to Slovenia with the pair lauding good bilateral cooperation and efficient use of Swiss contribution to EU cohesion funds in Slovenia. The pair also paid tribute to World Bee Day observed today. Carobbio Guscetti also met Slovenia's other top officials, including President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec.

Cooperation with Latin American in focus of conference

LJUBLJANA - A conference dedicated to cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean kicked off today with calls for closer ties, not just in trade but also in areas such as science, education and culture. "We share the commitment to active multilateralism, human rights, sustainable development, peaceful resolution of disputes and international law," Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said in his opening address.

Šarec defends govt handling of migration

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec defended measures taken by his government in response to a spike in illegal migration in questions time in parliament, arguing that the situation did not call for activating an article that gives the army additional powers. In response to criticism voiced the opposition Democratic Party (SDS), Šarec listed several measures taken by the government to increase army and police presence on the border. He suggested the SDS was exploiting the topic because it failed to form a government.

Poklukar says border fence plot owners to be fairly compensated

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar announced that his ministry is drafting legislative changes to compensate the owners of land along the border with Croatia where the state erected a fence in 2015. The minister announced the motion to change the state border control act as he answered a question from MP Blaž Pavlina of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), who said the ministry was being late in establishing the easement right on such land. Poklukar said that the Interior Ministry was aware of the fact that the relevant procedures were slow, adding that it was looking for solutions to make the procedures more effective and faster in cooperation with other departments.

Analyst says Austrian scandal revealed methods of populist parties

LJUBLJANA - Political analyst Marko Lovec assessed for the STA that Austria's corruption scandal would definitely impact the EU election in Austria, it is however not clear to what extent it would affect the elections as a whole. The scandal clearly demonstrated that some populist parties in Europe are open to embracing foreign meddling, Lovec said. "The problem of rightist populist parties is that they are building their campaign on being different from existing elites, on the promise they will operate in a fairer way, be closer to the people," the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences professor said.

SDS+SLS top Vox Populi poll ahead of EU vote

LJUBLJANA - The joint list of the Democrats (SDS) and the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) emerged as the favourite ahead of the EU elections in the latest Vox Populi poll. It is followed by the Social Democrats (SD) and the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ). The poll, conducted by Ninamedia for the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and the newspaper Dnevnik, shows 18.9% of the respondents opting for the SDS+SLS ticket headed by MEP Milan Zver, 18.1% for the SD list headed by MEP Tanja Fajon and 16.9% for the LMŠ with Irena Joveva.

Slovenia ambitious in its climate goals, PM says

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has ambitious energy and climate goals, PM Marjan Šarec said during questions time in parliament. To meet the goals, Slovenia will need to shut down the TEŠ thermal power plant, but before doing so, it will need to provide the answer on how it would produce electricity. Šarec defended the country's energy and climate change plan after Luka Mesec of the opposition Left noted that the NGO European Climate Foundation had recently labelled Slovenia's climate change plans the worst in the EU.

Three months after launch, sex abuse initiative reports seven priests

LJUBLJANA - Three months after being launched, a civil initiative fighting sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and providing assistance to victims has received reports about 15 priests who allegedly abused 25 victims. Criminal complaints have been filed against seven priests so far. Talking to the press, Matej Križanič of Dovolj.je (It's Enough) said that 14 of the victims were male and 11 female; 15 of them were underage. Most of them came from Ljubljana.

Efforts for new national library revived after long hiatus

LJUBLJANA - Reviving the new national library project that has been in the planning stages since 1989 and last saw a seven-year hiatus, Education and Science Minister Jernej Pikalo signed an annex to the contract for the building's design documents. Estimating the entire project at EUR 50 million, Pikalo said there were different possibilities of financing. One would entail changes to the 1994 act, another option are EU funds and yet another the funds from the so called Juncker Plan or the European Fund for Strategic Investments. In the end, the sources are bound to be mixed, the minister announced.

Project for faster boarding tested at Ljubljana airport

LJUBLJANA - Amadeus, a company specialising in IT solutions for tourism and travel, is testing a solution at Ljubljana airport to make check-in and boarding faster and easier for passengers. The project relies on biometric data to make check-in, security and boarding up to 75% faster. The joint project of the Ljubljana airport, the Slovenian air carrier Adria Airways and the Polish carrier Lot is aimed at reducing the pressure on airport infrastructure in the face of the growing number of passengers, and cut queues at airports.

Locals call for new take-off procedures at Ljubljana airport

BRNIK - Mayors of six municipalities near Slovenia's biggest airport, the Jože Pučnik Airport Ljubljana, have called on the Civil Aviation Agency to adopt measures to lower the level of noise. The municipalities demand that pilots fly in corridors so as to avoid low overflights. The noise has been increasing since new departure procedures were introduced in 2013 in which municipalities did not have a say, the mayors said. To allow "relatively negligible private financial savings of airlines, state institutions completely ignored the effects of noise, and public interest six years ago".

Nova Gorica, Gorizia seeking European Capital of Culture title

NOVA GORICA/GORIZIA, Italy - The border city of Nova Gorica and its Italian neighbour Gorizia plan to vie for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2025. Both mayors see the joint bid as an opportunity for the twin cities and an extension of the way the cities already collaborate. Nova Gorica and Gorizia plan to structure their bid around the strong role the conurbation plays on the border as a place that connect languages and cultures.

Climbing: Garnbret continues perfect season, eyeing two more titles

MUNICH, Germany - Slovenia's Janja Garnbret continues to perform in a league of her own in this year's climbing World Cup, having won her fifth straight bouldering event in Munich on Sunday. The 20-year-old has already clinched the overall bouldering title for the season and will now be out to also win the lead climbing and combined titles. While this is the second bouldering World Cup title for Garnbret after 2017, she also hopes to win the sixth and final bouldering event of the season in Vail, Colorado in June to become the first ever climber with a perfect bouldering record.

Young Slovenian making waves on pro cycling circuit

PASADENA, US - Tadej Pogačar, a 20-year-old Slovenian rider, is rapidly climbing in the world of professional cycling. The UAE Emirates team member won a WorldTour race in California this weekend, to gain 84 spots in the pro rankings. The young Slovenian left behind some of the world's top riders to win the Tour of California, having donned the yellow jersey in the penultimate stage and then defending it with a winning ride on Mt. Baldy ahead of Sergio Higuita.

Strahovnik's piece wins Rostrum music competition

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Prana, a piece written by Slovenian composer Petra Strahovnik and played by the public broadcaster's Symphony Orchestra, has won the Rostrum annual competition of contemporary classical music, which was recently held in Argentina. The public broadcaster RTV Slovenija hailed it as a historic achievement for Strahovnik and its radio station Radio Slovenija at the Rostrum since it was first held in 1954. While composing Prana, Strahovnik, 33, worked closely with the Symphony Orchestra to experiment with new sound techniques.

20 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Cerar says far-right parties are threat to democracy

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar commented on the political scandal in Austria by tweeting that far-right parties were a threat to European democracy. He called on citizens to say no to such parties in the upcoming EU election. In contrast, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec would not comment on the situation. It is an internal political issue which Austrian politicians and voters must solve, his office told the STA. It added that the political crisis in Austria would have no major effect on the Slovenian-Austrian relations.

Židan hosts Swiss speaker

BLED, RADOVLJICA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan hosted his Swiss counterpart Marina Carobbio Guscetti as she started her official three-day visit to Slovenia. The pair discussed bilateral relations and cooperation as well as EU-Swiss relations. Židan and Carobbio Guscetti spent the first day of the visit in Bled and Radovljica in north-western Slovenia, where they stopped at the Beekeeping Museum.

Slovenia's energy and climate plan ranked worst in EU

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has the worst draft energy and climate plan among all EU member states, according to a report by NGOs that highlights lack of ambition and credibility and absence of a clear path to carbon neutrality by 2050. In the report Planning for Net Zero: Assessing the draft National Energy and Climate Plans, the European Climate Foundation looked at how credible national goals are, how comprehensive and detailed policy proposals are, and how good the drafting process was.

Ljubljana fairgrounds growing, expanding congress business

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana fairgrounds, which annually hosts around 20 fairs, has been boosting its congress-hosting business lately, with the share of its revenue gained from this activity increasing from 25% in 2010 to 44% last year. Its operator believes that the venue will continue to grow and record another successful year in 2019. Presenting the figures for the STA, Iztok Bricl, the director of Gospodarsko Razstavišče, stressed that the fairgrounds operator's total revenue was up by 10% last year, with the goal being to grow at an annual rate of 5%.

Roglič wins stage nine at Giro d'Italia

SAN MARINO, San Marino - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič won stage nine of the Giro d'Italia by finishing first in today's 34.8-kilometre time trial that ended in San Marino. His second victory in time trial earned Roglič second place overall. Roglič, who already won the opening time trial, finished today's race on wet roads that ended with a 12-kilometre ascent to San Marino, in 51 minutes and 52 seconds. Belgian Victor Campenaerts came 11 seconds behind him, followed by Dutch Bauke Mollema, who was a minute behind.

19 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Poll has SDS + SLS, SD and LMŠ within 1.5 p.p. ahead of EU vote

LJUBLJANA - The latest Mediana poll, published by Delo, projects an EU elections victory for the joint list of the opposition Democrats (SDS) and the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS). SDS + SLS got 12.2% in the poll, followed by the junior coalition SocDems at 11.1% and senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) at 10.7%. Support dropped a little for the SDS and for the LMŠ, while it increased for the National Party (SNS), which got 8.1% in fourth place, and New Slovenia (NSi), which got 7.3%. Support also decreased for the Left, which polled at 6.4% and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which got 3.5%. Meanwhile, the ratings of the government and of parliament remain on the decline.

PM's aide Urlep believes demographic fund will need to invest abroad too

LJUBLJANA - Vojmir Urlep, a top aid to PM Marjan Šarec, told Dnevnik that the planned demographic fund will not be able to relieve the state budget of its burdens and fully cover the fast rising pension system costs. Additional measures will be needed, including an overhaul of the state asset management strategy. Asked whether the fund should also partly operate as a state fund, meaning also invest in foreign securities and holdings and manage such an investment portfolio, Urlep said no coalition agreement had been reached on this so far. He personally feels this will necessary and "will only be possible with a smart investment policy that will need to go beyond the scope of the domestic environment".

17 May 2019, 23:05 PM

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Civil group says police violating human rights on Schengen border

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian police officers are systemically denying migrants the right to asylum and are illegally returning them to Croatia, according to a report by Info Kolpa, a civil initiative launched about a year ago in response to growing allegations by migrants that Slovenia was denying them the right to asylum. The head of the border police, Peter Skerbiš, rejected the accusations saying the actions of the Slovenian police were professional and in line with the law. He said these claims had been checked several times in the past by NGOs, the Human Rights Ombudsman and the UNHCR but no irregularities had been found. Police denied the claims.

Police union hits back at govt over border checks, says measures insufficient

LJUBLJANA - A police trade union is pushing back against government comments on border protection, arguing that measures ostensibly designed to step up border controls would come to naught. Joint border patrols with soldiers are a "Sisyphean effort" since soldiers cannot perform police duties, Kristjan Mlekuš, the president of the Trade Union of Police Officers (SPS), told the press. With shortages of police officers, he also wondered who would man the joint Slovenian-Italian police patrols that Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said would be established to improve protection of the border with Italy.

Slovenian, Italian police hashing out details of joint border checks

ROME - Slovenian Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar met with her Italian counterpart Franco Gabrielli in Rome on Friday to discuss the details of joint border checks. While the general guidelines are set, details will be agreed at the operational level. The joint patrols are to be conducted on both sides of the border on sections where illegal crossings are most common, the police said, adding that both countries have assessed joint patrols will make the Western Balkan migration route less attractive.

Govt defends public sector pay system in parliament

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly is debating the opposition Democratic Party's (SDS) call for extracting some professions from the single pay system in the public sector in an emergency session. The government has argued for upgrading the system rather than dismantling it. The session comes after the majority on the Home Policy Committee has already voted down the SDS's recommendation to the government to draw up proposals to remove soldiers, doctors and nurses from the system, which was put in place by an SDS-led government in 2008.

Slovenian soldiers suspend training of Iraqi forces

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) have suspended their training of the armed forces of the Iraqi Kurdistan in Erbil due to the aggravated security situation in the country. The Slovenian contingent will nevertheless stay in Iraq and continue to perform other tasks, Slovenian media reported. The move comes after the US Central Command announced American soldiers in Iraq and Syria were at the highest level of preparedness, as credible threats by the Iranian forces had been detected in the region.

The first to suspend the training of the Iraqi forces were the German and Dutch military.

Cerar advocates multilateral system at CoE ministerial

HELSINKI, Finland - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar is attending a meeting of the Council of Europe's (CoE) Committee of Ministers in Helsinki. In his address, he said that Slovenia was a supporter of the multilateral system based on international law. He pointed out that the enforcement of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgements was one of the basic principles of the rule of law, said a Foreign Ministry press release.

Analysts: migrations top campaign issue, most seats already decided

LJUBLJANA - With just over a week to go until voting day in EU elections, migrations and security have become firmly established as the main campaign topics. While there are still several major TV debates on the agenda, the outlines of the likely results are already clear, according to analysts. Migrations are undoubtedly the no. 1 topic, trailed by climate change and Brexit. People are also interested in the benefits of the EU, but issues such as trade agreements and personal data protection are not prominent, Igor Kršinar, a journalist for the conservative weekly Reporter, told the STA.

S&P lifts NLB rating to investment grade

LJUBLJANA - Rating agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) raised NLB's credit rating by one notch on Friday, to BBB- from BB+ (outlook stable), a move that takes it to investment grade territory. Justifying the upgrade, S&P said that industry risks in Slovenia's banking system had decreased because of the state's reduced ownership of banks, and stronger banking supervision.

Petrol reports slightly higher Q1 profit

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian energy company Petrol saw its sales revenue grow by 19% year-year to EUR 1.4 billion in the first quarter of the year, while net profit rose by 2% to EUR 18.2 million. According to a regulatory filing posted on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, the group's quarterly adjusted gross profit increased by 10% year-on-year to EUR 112.1 million.

Abanka to pay our EUR 66.7m in dividends before privatisation

LJUBLJANA - The state-owned bank Abanka will pay out EUR 66.7 million in dividends or roughly three-quarters of the total distributable profit to the state as the only shareholder just before privatisation. The state will get roughly EUR 11.1 million of the sum in the form of Abanka's shares in the insurer Sava Re.

GPs give govt more time to tackle primary care crisis

KRANJ - Two dozens of general practitioners who handed in their resignations at the Kranj Community Health Centre in April in collective protest at excessive work overload, have extended their notice periods until 15 September after the government effectively reduced the upper number of patients per GP. In a written statement, the doctors said the move taken by the government on Thursday was a signal from politicians that they wanted to tackle the situation in primary care.

Govt, locals still on opposing sides over Poček training grounds

POSTOJNA - A session of the parliamentary Defence Committee on Thursday showed that the Defence Ministry and the Postojna community are still on opposite sides over the use of the Poček military training grounds. Local initiatives expressed doubts about state-commissioned reports on the effects of war games on drinking water, showing increased levels of certain metals but within safe levels for drinking water.

Pikalo signs agreement on R&D projects funding with China

BEIJING, China - Minister of Education, Science and Sport Jernej Pikalo met with Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang in Beijing during his visit to China. The pair signed a memorandum of understanding between the two ministries today on the joint financing of research and development (R&D) projects. The agreement outlines the joint R&D funding between universities, institutions and other organisations in both countries.

Slovenia calls for decriminalisation of homosexuality

LJUBLJANA - Marking International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, observed on 17 May, the Foreign Ministry pointed out that human rights applied for all and called for decriminalisation of same-sex relationships around the world. The ministry noted the recent progress of ensuring human rights for the LGBTI community, but it also pointed out that in more than 70 countries, same-sex relationships were still criminalised and could result in the death penalty.

16 May 2019, 23:28 PM

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Govt moves to appease doctors

LJUBLJANA - The government reduced the workload on general practitioners in terms of the number of patients they need to take in the wake of mass notices by doctors. The new standard was set at per-head index of 1,895, a figure that shows the workload taking into account the number of patients and their age and which translates into 1,383 patients per GP. The new standard will be phased in gradually and doctors would not be able to turn away existing patients, while new patients will be temporarily assigned to GPs with lowest workload. The new standard meets doctors' demands.

Electoral reform: Parties prefer relative preferential vote

LJUBLJANA - The meeting of parliamentary parties on changes to electoral legislation hosted by President Borut Pahor eliminated the option of introducing an absolute preferential vote, as the parties prefer a relative preferential vote. Legislative changes to that effect will expectedly be ready by July. Over the summer, the Public Administration Ministry is also expected to finalise legislative changes that would redraw the borders of electoral districts. Pahor is hosting a series of meeting to reach a consensus on the reform after the legislation determining the size of electoral districts was declared unconstitutional at the end of 2019.

Coalition agrees on concept for demographic fund

LJUBLJANA - Coalition partners agreed on a concept for the long-planned demographic fund as the finance minister presented them the guidelines under which state-owned companies labelled as portfolio investments, in which the state is not required to preserve a controlling stake, would be included in it. The bill to set up the fund will expectedly be drafted in June or July, and could be passed by the end of the year, said Brane Golubovič, the head of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deputy group, as he came out of the meeting. The fund is seen as a way of shoring up the public pension system making it more sustainable.

MPs call for repatriation of Slovenians from Venezuela

LJUBLJANA - Members of parliament urged the government to help Venezuelans of Slovenian origin leave the country by immediately starting repatriation procedures as permitted by law. The appeal came at a session of the parliamentary Commission for Slovenians Abroad in the midst of mounting media reports that many of the several hundred Venezuelans of Slovenian origin would like help from Slovenia to escape the hardship.

MPs propose govt draft digital services tax bill by April

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance and Monetary Policy Committee will propose to the government to draft a bill by next April under which Slovenia would introduce a tax on digital services as of September 2020. At the session requested by the opposition Left, its MP Luka Mesec noted that while the European Commission had prepared the groundwork, there was no consensus among EU member states regarding this tax. The Finance Ministry has no information about the volume of digital services provided in Slovenia by the world's largest digital companies, which means they do not pay value added tax (VAT).

Minister Cerar attends CoE ministerial

HELSINKI, Finland - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar held talks with senior Council of Europe (CoE) officials as he attended a ministerial coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the 47-member organisation. The meeting with CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland revolved around a recent report on how to strengthen the organisation going forward, which Jagland prepared for the ministerial.

Successors sell former Yugoslav embassy building in Tokyo

LJUBLJANA - A building in Tokyo that used to house the Yugoslav embassy and residence has been sold by the successor states for EUR 15 million. Slovenia will get 14% of the proceeds or EUR 2.1 million, the Foreign Ministry said. The successor states are also in the process of selling the building of the former Yugoslav mission in New York, the former embassy building in Bern and a former consulate in Bonn. The ministry said the division of diplomatic buildings, one of the last remaining assets the successors have to divide, is proceeding very well.

Insurance group Sava more than doubles quarterly net profit

LJUBLJANA - Sava Insurance Group, Slovenia's second largest, posted EUR 10.9 million in net profit in the first quarter of the year, up 136% year on year, as gross premiums written rose by 2.8% to EUR 171.6 million. Core company Sava Re said in a release the profit growth had been driven by "a benign claims development and improved cost efficiency". The group had EUR 1.8 billion in total assets, up 6.3% over the end of 2018.

Maribor hosting conference on circular economy

MARIBOR - Immediate action is needed to save the planet, European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said at the opening of Circular Change, a two-day international conference dedicated circular economy. "We know what needs to be done. Now it's time we do it," she said at the event, which attracted more than 400 participants from 20 countries. While the non-governmental sector and the young became aware of the problem a long time ago, it is now up to Slovenian politics to make a circular economy and sustainable development the basis of its mentality and all of its activity, she said.

Top tourism event kicking off

PODČETRTEK - The annual Slovenia Incoming Workshop, the largest tourism business event in Slovenia, kicked off at the Terme Olimija spa, featuring nearly 160 foreign companies from 37 countries and more than 160 Slovenian companies until Saturday. The majority of foreign companies come from Italy, Germany and France, but there are also several from the US, China and South Korea. The Slovenian Tourism Board expects more than 3,500 meetings to take place.

Pivec meets Macedonian agri minister to discuss coop

SKOPJE, North Macedonia - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec completed a two-day visit to North Macedonia by attending a honey breakfast hosted by a primary school in Ohrid as part of its project honouring 20 May World Bee Day. On Wednesday, she met Macedonian counterpart Ljupčo Nikolovski to discuss bilateral cooperation, chiefly Slovenia's assistance to North Macedonia in its efforts to join the EU. They also opened a new wine cellar of Slovenian company Puklavec Family Wines.

Number of people in employment continues to rise

LJUBLJANA - The number of people in employment in Slovenia increased in March at both annual and monthly levels to 890,000, up 0.6% over February and 3.1% over March 2018, the Statistics Office said. The number of persons in employment increased in all parts of Slovenia and across all sectors on the monthly level. Compared to March last year, the number of persons in employment dropped in four out of twenty sectors.

Large-scale exhibition of Slovenian art opens in Prague

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - A large-scale exhibition of Slovenian art opened at Prague Castle, featuring 474 works of art, the largest shipment of Slovenian national heritage abroad in the country's history, according to the National Gallery. Impressionism from Dawn till Dusk. Slovenian Art 1870-1930 focuses on impressionists, but also includes works by artists who were connected to the Czech Republic by either studying there, being friends with Czech artists or leaving their work in the country.

Maribor again national football champions

CELJE - Maribor won their 15th national football championship three rounds before the end of the season with a 3:1 win in Celje on Wednesday. The club secured its seventh national championship title in the last nine seasons in the last ten minutes of the match with goals by Jan Mlakar and Dino Hotić. The only Slovenian club to have played in the UEFA Champions League has dominated Slovenian football lately, with Olimpija being the only other title winner in the last nine years.

Roglič loses overall lead of Giro d'Italia

ROME, Italy - After wearing the pink jersey for the first five days of the legendary Giro d'Italia, Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) lost the overall lead to Italian Valerio Conti (UAE Emirates) today. He is now 11th overall, 5:24 behind Conti. Tomorrow, a 180-kilometre, equally hilly stage is on the programme, taking the cyclists from Vasto to l'Aquila.

15 May 2019, 22:54 PM

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Conference calls for job creation in Africa

LJUBLJANA - The 8th Africa Day conference got under way, focusing on relations between Africa and Europe, and economic and investment opportunities in Africa. The opening debate heard calls for creating jobs for young people in Africa. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar urged enhancing dialogue and cooperation between Europe and Africa, and between Slovenia and Africa. As part of the efforts, Slovenia signed an economic cooperation memorandum with Ghana on the sidelines of the event. The conference is featuring the foreign ministers of Cape Verde and Central African Republic, among others.

US curtails activities at military exercises in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The US army has decided to curtail ongoing military activities in Slovenia due to restrictions imposed at the Poček grounds near Postojna. "US Forces are awaiting concrete rules and guidelines, to be outlined by the Ministry of Defence in consultation with local municipalities, so that they can forecast, plan, and conduct future training within those rules and guidelines," the US Embassy told the STA on Wednesday.

Govt to help Slovenians get out of Venezuela

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee that the ministry would host consular days in Caracas this month to help Slovenians in Venezuela who want to leave the country get the necessary documents. Cerar said the situation in the country "is bad, and is getting worse, with no signs of a peace process whatsoever". Around 300 Slovenian citizens and a few hundred persons of Slovenian descent living in Venezuela are in need of help.

Slovenia considering pulling peacekeepers out of Mali, Lebanon

LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry is considering withdrawing Slovenian members from the peacekeeping missions in Mali and Lebanon. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee that his and the Defence Ministry were considering the next course of action and the position would be presented to the government. Eight Slovenian force members are involved in the EUTM Mali EU mission and 15 in the the Unifil Lebanon UN peacekeeping mission, data as of April show.

EIB approves EUR 250m loan for Koper-Divača track

LJUBLJANA - The board of directors of the European Investment Bank (EIB) approved a EUR 250 million loan for the construction of a second rail track between rail hub Divača and Koper port. The approval is considered a significant step in securing the funds still missing for the project, estimated at just under EUR 1.2 billion. The state-guaranteed loan will be taken out by 2TDK, a company incorporated with the purpose of building and managing the new track.

Prince Edward advocates non-formal education

LJUBLJANA - Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, wrapped up his two-day visit to Slovenia by attending an event held as part of the international Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, and planting a tree of friendship between the UK and Slovenia in Ljubljana's Tivoli Park together with President Borut Pahor. He also took part in a debate hosted by the British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce in which he talked about the importance of non-formal education. Apart from Pahpr, the prince also met PM Marjan Šarec.

New attempt to convert franc loans to euro

LJUBLJANA - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, adopted a bill to help several thousand people who took out mortgages in Swiss francs and ran into trouble when the Swiss central bank stopped protecting the value of the currency in 2015. The bill would make it obligatory for banks to convert all Swiss franc loans to euro at the exchange rate valid at the time the loan agreement was signed. A similar bill, filed in December 2017, was harshly criticised by banks and the ECB.

Unions threaten referendum if minimum wage law amended

LJUBLJANA - Trade unions announced they would fight with all means available what they believe are concealed attempts to change the law on minimum wage to gratify employers, as suggested by statements by government officials and debates held by employers. Representatives of the trade union confederations ZSSS and Pergam told the press they were ready to push for a referendum on the minimum wage law if it was changed. The Left said it would help them collect signatures for the vote. Meanwhile, the Labour Ministry said there was no reason to change the law.

Eastern region pushing for cohesion policy changes

MARIBOR - Mayors and representatives of regional development agencies in eastern Slovenia, gathered for a meeting in Maribor, called for a change of the cohesion policy concept and regional policy. They said that cohesion policy as implemented in the period 2007-2019 was not producing results as the gap between the more developed west and the less developed east is widening. Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič urged decentralisation, proposing Maribor get an office for the drawing of cohesion policy funds.

Triglav reports higher Q1 profit, premiums

LJUBLJANA - The insurance group Zavarovalnica Triglav posted a pre-tax profit of EUR 29.9 million in the first quarter of 2019, up 8% year-on-year, while also recording the same growth rate in consolidated gross premiums, which amounted to EUR 317 million. The company's unaudited quarterly report said that the group's premium growth on most of its markets exceeded the growth of the markets as a whole. The group collects 76% of consolidated premiums in Slovenia.

Cinkarna Celje revenue, profit down in Q1

CELJE - The chemical company Cinkarna Celje reported net sales revenue of EUR 45.5 million for the first quarter of the year, a drop 13% year-on-year. Net profit plummeted 64% to EUR 4.6 million and exports fell by 11% to EUR 40.6 million. The company blamed the poorer results on lower prices of titanium dioxide pigment, its main product, and uncertainty about future economic trends. It also said that the first quarter of the year was a low season for the company.

Average pay up in March

LJUBLJANA - Average monthly gross pay in Slovenia amounted to EUR 1,752 in March, a 2.2% increase on February in nominal terms and a 1.5% increase in real terms. Compared to March 2018, gross pay was up by 4.9% in nominal and by 3.2% in real terms, the Statistics Office reported. Average net pay amounted to EUR 1,12, a 2.6% year-in-year increase in real terms. Net pay in the public sector rose by 2.8% on the monthly basis in March. In the private sector it was up by 1.3%.

Ex-head of Serb Orthodox Church found guilty of embezzlement in retrial

LJUBLJANA - Peran Bošković, the former leader of the Ljubljana Serb Orthodox community, who was found guilty of embezzlement in July 2017, was convicted of the same offence in a retrial and again given a six-month suspended prison sentence by the Ljubljana District Court. The judge also ordered Bošković to return the illegally obtained assets. He is required to return EUR 33,689 during a one-year period.

Two Slovenian pro cyclists suspended for doping

AIGLE, Switzerland - The world body for sports cycling, UCI, provisionally suspended Slovenian riders Kristijan Koren and Borut Božič after receiving information about doping suspicions from the Austrian law enforcement authorities. The Slovenian riders were suspended along with Italian Alessandro Petacchi and Croat Kristijan Đurasek as part of blood doping investigation codenamed Aderlass. Their team, Bahrain-Merida, confirmed their suspension. The pair allegedly violated anti-doping rules in 2012-13.

Slovenian Book Days festival gets under way

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Book Days got under way in Ljubljana, featuring a fair in front of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arts, as well as events at the National Gallery, the headquarters of the Slovenian Writers' Association, and the St Cyril and Methodius Church. The festival has been moved from April to the start of May to capitalise on the pre-summer book buying and warmer evenings, perfect for reading or hanging out.

14 May 2019, 21:16 PM

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President, Prince Edward mark first Slovenia-UK Friendship Day

VINICA - President Borut Pahor and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, marked the first Day of Slovenia-UK Friendship in Gornji Suhor, a village in south-eastern Slovenia where a British bomber crashed in 1945. After laying wreaths at the memorial plaque commemorating the crew, Pahor and Prince Edward addressed the ceremony to underline the importance of friendship between their countries in the past and in the future. "Today is an important day. A day to remember what connects us, both in the past and the present and more importantly in the future," Prince Edward said.

Pahor appeals for army modernisation

CERKLJE OB KRKI - President Borut Pahor addressed a ceremony on the eve of Slovenian Armed Forces Day at Cerklje pri Krki airfield, underscoring that Slovenia must modernise its Armed Forces so that they would be able to perform missions of greatest intensity with excellence. He said that Slovenia was a safe country and that its army was a pillar of security. Despite readiness shortcomings, he said the army performed its duties perfectly, at home and abroad. The ceremony was also addressed attended by Defence Minister Karl Erjavec and Chief of the General Staff, Major General Alenka Ermenc.

PM and defence minister say migration issues "overblown"

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec commented on topical developments in the country, arguing that the ouster motion against Erjavec, as well as "exaggeration" of problems related to illegal migration should be regarded in the context of the EU election campaign. Both Šarec and Erjavec said that the police and army were managing the situation on the south border, and they both argued that the problems in wake of the recent abduction incident were overblown. Šarec also proposed deploying Frontex to Croatia to prevent illegal migration.

Erjavec says US military has no reason to worry about Poček

LJUBLJANA - After TV Slovenija reported on Monday that the US military had been considering no longer participating in joint exercises in Slovenia in the current scope, Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said there was no reason for concern. The public broadcaster reported that the US military had considered scaling-down their military exercises in Slovenia following uncertainty and restrictions regarding the Poček training grounds. Erjavec said he had met US Chargé d'Affaires Gautam Rana to assure him that all scheduled military exercises would be carried out as planned.

Cerar meets Cape Verde minister to discuss development coop

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met Luis Filipe Tavares, the Cape Verde minister in charge of foreign affairs, cooperation and defence, to discuss development cooperation, an area in the focus of Slovenia's cooperation with the African country. They agreed that Slovenia and Cape Verde had established good and friendly relations, which had been marked by successful development aid projects in Cape Verde over the past few years. Tavares will address tomorrow the 8th Africa Day conference, which the Foreign Ministry and the African diaspora in Slovenia will host until Thursday.

Three new ambassadors present credentials

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received the credentials of three new ambassadors to Slovenia representing Bulgaria, Mauritania and Guinea. Pahor was presented with the credentials of the new Bulgarian Ambassador Mladen Petrov Chervenyakov, Mauritanian Ambassador Sidi Mohamed Hamed and Guinean Ambassador Mohamed Cherif Diallo. Chervenyakov will be based in Ljubljana, while the Mauritanian and Guinean ambassadors will be based in Rome.

Lebanese chemist found guilty of ordering murder of institute senior

LJUBLJANA - Lebanese chemist Michel Stephan was found guilty of soliciting to the murder of one of his former superiors at the National Institute of Chemistry, and sentenced to eight years in prison. The Ljubljana District Court found that Stephan hired an Iraqi asylum seeker in 2017 to kill Janez Plavec, the head of the institute's NMR Centre. The murder was not committed because the Iraqi alerted the police and helped them collect evidence to arrest Stephan. The defence announced an appeal.

Abanka planning high dividend payout before privatisation

LJUBLJANA - The state-owned Abanka plans to pay out EUR 66.7 million in dividends prior to being privatised, roughly 75% of the total distributable profit, according to the notice convening the annual general meeting of shareholders, which will be held on Thursday. The figure corresponds to the bank's entire profit for 2018 and is more than 50% higher than last year's dividend payout, which totalled EUR 42.6m. Three bidders have reportedly submitted binding bids: Slovenia's NKBM, Hungary's OTP bank and Serbia's AIK Banka, which already owns Gorenjska Banka.

Pipistrel's aircraft charging station introduced to the US

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian aircraft company Pipistrel has gotten one of its aircraft charging stations installed by Los Angeles County Public Works at Compton/Woodley Airport. According to the department, Pipistrel has thus provided the first commercial electric aircraft docking station for the US. The county's infrastructure department has bought four Pipistrel SkyCharge chargers and two Alpha Electro electric aircraft.

Survey shows many immigrants overqualified for their jobs

LJUBLJANA - While the general belief in Slovenia is that most immigrants from the Western Balkans are unqualified workers, a survey presented by the charity Caritas suggests that most immigrants have secondary education and are often overqualified for the work they do in Slovenia. Meanwhile, Slovenia does not export only young educated people but also unqualified workers and the number of people leaving the county almost matches the number of those moving in, shows the survey, funded by the European Commission and the Foreign Ministry.

Beef, pork production down last year, honey output doubled

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia produced less beef and pork in 2018 compared to the year before but more poultry, lamb and goat meat, preliminary statistics show. Domestic production of beef dropped by 5% in annual comparison, while the live weight gain decreased by some 2%. The live weight gain for pork was level as in 2017 and so was pork production. The production of honey more than doubled to 1,700 tonnes, the Statistics Office said.

Cannes Film Market features four Slovenian films

CANNES, France - Slovenia will promote four feature films at the film market accompanying the Cannes Film Festival, while The Right One, a short by Slovenian director Urška Djukić and Greek-Danish director Gabriel Tzafka, will be screened at the opening of the Directors' Fortnight festival section. The first Slovenian feature to be be screened by the Slovenian Film Centre (SFC) at the Marche du Film market will be Don't Forget to Breathe by Martin Turk.

Photographer Tadej Vaukman wins OHO Group Award

LJUBLJANA - Tadej Vaukman, an artist and photographer focusing on documentary and street photography portraying subcultural and marginal phenomena, won the 2019 OHO Group Award for up-and-coming Slovenian artists. Named after the influential Slovenian avant-garde artist group OHO, which was active in the late 1960s and 1970s, the award is given out annually by the Ljubljana-based P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. Institute in cooperation with the New York Foundation for a Civil Society and Trust for Mutual Understanding.

Skomina to referee Champions League final

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's referee Damir Skomina will take charge of the UEFA Champions League final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in Madrid on 1 June, the UEFA Referees Committee announced. "Refereeing the Champions League final is a tremendous honour, and an even bigger responsibility," the 42-year-old said in his first response. This is the second final of a European football tournament for Skomina since the country's independence.

13 May 2019, 21:24 PM

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FM Cerar proposes joint police patrols on border with Italy

BRUSSELS, Belgium - FM Miro Cerar proposed to his Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi joint police patrols on the Slovenian-Italian border to prevent illegal migration, saying he wanted to show to Italy that Slovenia wanted to strengthen mutual trust. Cerar said border controls within the Schengen zone were unacceptable for Slovenia, because they went against the European ideas of connectivity and freedom. According to him, Milanesi welcomed the initiative, which will be presented to the two countries' interior ministers, while their police commissioners are expected to discuss it in a few days.

Mlinar says Austria's border checks undermining EU

LJUBLJANA - Angelika Mlinar, an Austrian MEP who is standing in the EU elections on the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) in Slovenia, came out strongly against an extension of police checks on the Austrian-Slovenian border, accusing Austria's government of "non-European conduct". The extension "does not resolve any problems, it creates new problems for Slovenians who work in Austria and it damages bilateral relations, in particular the Slovenian economy," she told the press. Mlinar, a vocal critic of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, said the "utterly unwarranted checks" treated Slovenians as "second-rate citizens of Europe" and "undermine our common EU".

MPs discuss allegations about political pressure on judges

LJUBLJANA - MPs discussed the opposition Democrats' (SDS) proposal to have the National Assembly order an analysis of the allegations of abuse in and pressure on the judiciary, and draw up legislative changes. The debate had been prompted by Ljubljana District Court judge Zvjezdan Radonjić's recent statements about pressure he allegedly experienced in trying Milko Novič for the December 2013 murder of the Chemistry Institute boss. Since the SDS's proposal was rejected already by the parliamentary Justice Committee last week, the MPs did not vote on it, but coalition parties and the opposition Left swarned that discussing on-going court procedures was a form of pressure in itself.

MPs confirm delay of next round of real estate appraisal

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislative changes delaying the next round of mass property appraisal for about a year. Under the government-sponsored changes, the appraisal will be completed by the end of March 2020 and not the end of July 2019. The delay is deemed necessary to allow more time to reach a consensus on an appraisal model. Slovenia introduced the real estate appraisal system in 2006. After the Constitutional Court raised an issue with parts of the legislation in 2013, it was amended at the beginning of 2018.

Motorway a must for all heavy cargo vehicles in NE Slovenia as of June

LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Agency announced that all heavy cargo vehicles crossing the north-eastern part of Slovenia will be obligated to take the motorway as of 1 June. The ban on the use of regional roads for heavy cargo vehicles will apply to the area between the border crossings Bistrica ob Sotli and Središče ob Dravi. Only local traffic and vehicles destined to Slovenia will be allowed to use parallel regional roads. The measure is to improve safety and the quality of living in the area, the Infrastructure Ministry said. Locals had been protesting against heavy traffic for years, claiming trucks used regional roads to avoid paying toll.

Slovenia gets equity growth investment programme

LJUBLJANA - Small and medium-sized companies in Slovenia as well as those providing for up to 3,000 full-time jobs will be able to apply for EUR 100 million in funds offered by the Slovenian Equity Growth Investment Programme (SEGIP), which is designed to help attract private investors from abroad. The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Slovenia's SID export and development bank each contributed EUR 50 million to the scheme. SID CEO Sibil Svilan said the initiative for the SEGIP had come from SID after the crisis revealed a major deficiency in private equities in Slovenia.

Four out of five Slovenians regular internet users

LJUBLJANA - Some 80% of Slovenians aged 16 to 74 regularly used the internet in the first quarter of 2018, shows data released by the Statistics Office ahead of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. Most accessed the internet via their smartphones. The percentage of people aged 16 to 74 who have never used the internet halved in 10 years - from 33% to just 16% in 2018. In the same period, the percentage of regular internet users increased from 62% to 80%. The biggest increase was recorded among older citizens, with 47% of those aged 65 to 74 being regular users, a dramatic increase from 8% in 2009.

Roglič retains Giro pink jersey

ROME, Italy - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič retained his pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia after Sunday and Monday's legs by finishing both in the leading group, after winning the first stage of the legendary race on Saturday. The 29-year-old former ski jumper, who competes for Jumbo-Visma, is considered one of the favourites to win this year's race across Italy. By taking the opening time trial on Saturday, he won a Giro stage for the second time in his career, the first coming in 2016.

40th anniversary of Slovenian conquest of Mt Everest

LJUBLJANA - 40 years to the day Andrej Štremfelj and Nejc Zaplotnik made history as the first Slovenians to reach the summit of Mt Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The pair were part of a 25-strong Yugoslav expedition which featured 21 Slovenians and which was led by Slovenian mountaineer Tone Škarja. The two mountaineers reached their goal after 45 days of climbing the mountain's western ridge in extreme weather conditions and struggling with oxygen deprivation. The anniversary was marked at the Slovenian Alpine Museum in Mojstrana with a ceremony and an exhibition. The majority of the Slovenian members of the expedition and representatives of the Mountaineering Association were also received by President Borut Pahor.

Mächtig's iconic K67 kiosk unveiled in Times Square

NEW YORK, US - The iconic K67 kiosk by acclaimed Slovenian architect and designer Saša Mächtig has been featured in the Times Square Design Lab exhibition. The kiosk, currently sitting on Broadway Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets, is one of the landmarks of Slovenian industrial design. Tim Tompkins of the Times Square Alliance, responsible for improving and promoting Times Square, says their goal is to showcase the best design from around the world in the square, through which some half a million people pass every day, making it great for advertising.

Medieval burial ground discovered in Pomurje

TIŠINA - A team of archaeologists from the Pomurje Museum has discovered a medieval burial ground in Tišina, the first of its kind in the north-eastern Pomurje region. Some 50 graves were identified, although the team estimates there to be several hundred. The most important artefacts found in the graves were various types of female jewellery, mostly headdresses and rings. According to Samo Sankovič, the leader of the team, these belonged to the time of the Bijelo Brdo Culture, which inhabited the Pannonian Plain between the 10th and 12th centuries.

13 May 2019, 08:13 AM

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Additional troops deployed for protection of Schengen border

LJUBLJANA/TOPOLŠICA - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec has announced that the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) have deployed additional soldiers to the border with Croatia to help the police manage the increasing number of illegal crossings of the border. Speaking to the press on the sidelines of a Victory Day ceremony in Topolšica on Saturday, Erjavec said that the help had been requested by the police, adding that the SAF had more units ready to be deployed at any moment. According to the SAF, an additional 35 soldiers were deployed on Saturday to the southern border, and the current number of soldiers in the daily shift is 66. The additional 35 soldiers have been deployed to the area covered by the Ilirska Bistrica police station.

Ahead of EU elections, SLS holds traditional get-together

KRŠKO - Around 3,000 members and supporters of the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) had a traditional get-together, which focused on the upcoming EU elections. SLS president Marjan Podobnik called on the audience to take responsibility and vote because "it is us who decide, not someone else." Podobnik called on voters to vote for the joint list of the SLS and the opposition Democrats (SDS) if they wanted to "support Slovenian farmers, craftspersons and entrepreneurs." Among others, the event was attended by all eight MEP candidates from the list and SDS president Janez Janša, who said that the cooperation in the elections was not dictated "only by the heart, but also the mind, because the threshold is high".

12 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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Črnomelj protesters demand better control of border

ČRNOMELJ - Several hundred people gathered to demand better control of Slovenia's southern border. The rally was called after four illegal migrants abducted an elderly man earlier this week and used his car to drive to the border with Italy. The protesters believe that the government and the police are not doing enough to protect the locals living along the border, with many signing a petition with five key demands. Unless they are taken seriously, another rally is to be organised in Ljubljana.

Roglič wins opening stage of Giro d'Italia

BOLOGNA, Italy - Slovenian ski jumper-come-cyclist Primož Roglič won the first stage of Giro d'Italia. He completed the 8-kilometre chronometer route 19 seconds faster than runner up Simon Yates of the UK. In place three was Italian Vincenzo Nibali, 23 seconds slower than Roglič. Competing for Jumbo-Visma, he claimed his second Tour de Romandie title only a week ago, and is viewed as one of the favourites for the three-week Giro d'Italia title.

Interior minister sides with hospitality sector over stricter DUI rules

PORTOROŽ - Following a push from the Traffic Safety Agency and a number of NGOs to lower the permitted alcohol level for drivers, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar expressed his disagreement with this proposal on Friday as he attended a business conference of the Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS), which has previously expressed opposition to the proposal, saying it would damage the country's tourism industry.

Škocjan Caves boast second biggest underground chamber in Europe

ŠKOCJAN - Škocjanske Jame, an impressive underground system, is celebrating 200 years since welcoming its first visitors. The occasion was used to measure the cave system once again. It showed that the UNESCO site's biggest chamber is bigger than believed and that it is in fact the second biggest underground chamber in Europe. The caves became a tourist destination in 1819, when an official log of visitors was started. One of the most significant names entered in the log is that of Stephanie, the crown princess of Austria.

Slovenian's claim against Tesla thrown out

SAN JOSE, US - A second claim by a Slovenian Gregor Lešnik who was gravely injured while building a plant for electric car maker Tesla in Fremont, California, in 2015 has been thrown out, the newspaper Slovenske Novice reported. A San Jose court ruled that Lešnik had already been compensated for wrongs he alleges in the this claim with the US$550,000 settlement he reached with Tesla in 2016.

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