Ljubljana related

11 May 2019, 08:04 AM

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Pahor, Steinmeier say peace in Europe must not be taken for granted

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier repeated their call to EU citizens, especially the youth, to turn out for the upcoming election as they addressed the press after a meeting. The pair discussed the challenges faced by the EU, from Brexit to migration, with Pahor saying that the EU's successful solving of these issues would be the basis of a more successful EU after the election. They warned against taking the EU for granted. Steinmeier believes that now, in the light of the upcoming EU election, it is time to review the situation the bloc is in at the moment. He said that he and Pahor had agreed that a debate or even a dispute was a part of political discourse aimed at setting the course for the future.

Abduction suspects remain in detention, minister says border situation under control

LJUBLJANA - The investigating magistrate in the case of the abduction of a man by illegal immigrants has ordered that all three suspects arrested on Wednesday remain in detention. A 25-year-old Morocco citizen and two 18-year-olds from Algeria are accused of abduction, theft and car robbery, prosecutor Srečko Hočevar told the media. Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar meanwhile said the police were in control of the situation on the border with Croatia and that "there is presently no need for protest rallies".

SDS accuses Erjavec of abusing spy agency, lying

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) submitted a motion to oust Defence Minister Karl Erjavec, alleging he abused the army intelligence service, unlawfully dismissed the army force commander, lied and misled the public. The motion was presented by MP Žan Mahnič, the deputy chair of the Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services, which last month established that Erjavec had abused the intelligence service to spy on Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc before sacking him. Just as Mahnič was presenting the motion, the office of PM Marjan Šarec said the explanations provided by Erjavec in response to the allegation of abuse by the parliamentary commission were satisfactory.

Puigdemont tells Ljubljana audience his aim is strengthening Catalan democracy

LJUBLJANA - Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who was invited to Slovenia by former Slovenian President Milan Kučan and MEP Ivo Vajgl (Alde/DeSUS), said in Ljubljanathat the aim of the Catalan independence movement was to strengthen democracy at the Catalan and EU level. Puigdemont and two former Catalan councillors have chosen Ljubljana as one of the first destinations for their EU election campaign since according to them Slovenia is Catalonia's friend and serves as an inspiration, demonstrating that small countries and democratic values can thrive in Europe.

National postal operator acquires 72% of logistics company Intereuropa

LJUBLJANA - The state-owned postal operatorPošta Slovenije has acquired just over 72% of logistics company Intereuropa from a consortium of six Slovenian banks pending clearance from anti-trust authorities. The news, revealed by Intereuropa, caps months of negotiations after Pošta Slovenije and British logistics company Xpediator, submitted binding bids in a call for expression of interest that was published in June 2018. The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but the business daily Finance has reported the transaction being in the EUR 100 million range together with debt. On the Ljubljana Stock Exchange the 72% stake was worth roughly EUR 30 million today.

Army intel service alleges MP divulged classified info

LJUBLJANA - Žan Mahnič, the deputy of the opposition Democrats (SDS) deputy who has accused Defence Minister Karl Erjavec of abuse of the military intelligence service appears to have been charged with divulging classified information. The Defence Ministry said its intelligence arm, the OVS, had notified the police of a potential criminal act committed by Mahnič. According to unofficial information obtained by the STA, the charge refers to disclosure of classified information. The move comes after Mahnič, the deputy chair of the parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services, on 26 April accused Erjavec of having abused the OVS. Mahnič said he had not revealed classified information, wondering why the OVS did not file a criminal complaint.

Committee rejects SDS proposal on alleged cases of judiciary abuse

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Justice Committee rejected the proposal of the opposition Democrats (SDS) to have the National Assembly ask relevant bodies to analyse what the SDS labelled "publicly known cases" of abuse and pressure in the judiciary. The committee's coalition members said the proposal interfered in an open case, referring to the debate about Ljubljana District Court judge Zvjezdan Radonjić indicating he had been pressured to convict Milko Novič for the December 2013 murder of the Chemistry Institute boss. The rejection of the SDS's proposal by the committee means the National Assembly will not take a vote on it at Monday's plenary, but it will still discuss it.

SDS submits bill to compensate minor bailed-in holders

LJUBLJANA - An MP for the opposition Democratic Party (SDS), Jože Tanko, tabled a bill to pay compensation to junior share- and bond-holders who were wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout. "The goal of the bill is to repay the damages suffered by non-qualified investors," reads the proposal. The damages for the wiped out shareholders of NLB and NKBM banks would be calculated by multiplying the number of shares they owned on 17 December 2013 with the book value of the bank's share as of 31 December 2012. The damages per shareholder would be capped at EUR 10,000.

Slovenia's exports up 8.7%, imports 8.5% in Q1 year-on-year

LJUBLJANA - After a slowdown at the end of 2018, trade picked up again in the first quarter of the year. Year-on-year, Slovenia's exports in the period grew by 8.7% to nearly EUR 8.2 billion, while imports were up 8.5% to just over EUR 8 billion. Trade surplus was at EUR 169 million, the Statistics Office reported. In March, exports reached EUR 2.86 billion, up 2.9% year-on-year. The figure was also higher than the EUR 2.65 billion generated in February. Imports amounted to EUR 2.83 billion, up 6.2% from March 2018, as well as from the month before (EUR 2.58 billion).

Pivec presents World Bee Day project in Serbia

BELGRADE, Serbia - Agriculture Minister Pivec presented the World Bee Day project during as part of her visit to Belgrade. She expressed her gratitude to Serbia for being one of the first countries that have supported the Slovenian initiative. Pivec met with her Serbian counterpart Branislav Nedimović on the first day of her visit and highlighted the successful long-term cooperation between the two ministries during the meeting, her ministry said.

New lorry entrance accommodates Koper port's growth

KOPER - A second lorry entrance to the Koper port was inaugurated in an investment valued at EUR 5 million, expected to alleviate congestion at the current single entrance and in the city. Around 1,000 lorries enter the port every day, 40% of which will gradually be diverted to the new Sermin entrance. The number of lorries increased by 40% in the past decade to 325,000 last year. Addressing the ceremony, port operator Luka Koper chairman Dimitrij Zadel labelled the investment as a new step in the port's development, announcing a new lorry terminal within two years.

10 May 2019, 02:41 AM

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Elderly man abducted by illegal migrants

ČRNOMELJ/LJUBLJANA - A 79-year-old man working in his vineyard near the border town Črnomelj was abducted on Wednesday by a group of illegal migrants, who tied him up, put him in his car's boot and drove several hours before releasing him in a village near Sežana. Police said a 25-year-old Moroccan and two 18-year-old Algerians were arrested and have been remanded in custody on suspicion of kidnapping. Reactions by political parties indicated the incident could make law&order a top campaign issue ahead of the EU vote, with conservative parties urging the government to protect the Schengen border and prevent illegal migrations at all cost.

EU presidents issue call for strong, integrated Europe

LJUBLJANA - The EU heads of state issued a call ahead of the EU election, urging the people on Europe Day to vote and making a case for a strong, integrated EU. We cannot and should not take peace and freedom, prosperity and well-being for granted, says the statement, which was also jointly presented by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is paying an official visit to Slovenia, and Slovenia's Borut Pahor, one of its first signatories. Pahor said "perhaps it will be the election that will decide the future course of our beloved union", while Steinmeier that the 21 signatories agreed that Europe needed a political debate in order to determine its future course.

Brdo-Brijuni summit urges EU not to forget about W Balkans

TIRANA, Albania - Leaders of the Western Balkans signed a declaration at a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process urging the EU to make enlargement to the region a "matter of geopolitical significance". The EU must "bear in mind that the full integration of the Western Balkans into the European system of values is an important factor for the overall European stability as well," says the declaration. Slovenian President Borut Pahor said that enlargement to the Western Balkans would not likely be a priority of the next European Commission, which is why "we need to make the region more attractive to other EU members."

NSi proposes giving MEPs say in nomination of Slovenia's EU commissioner

LJUBLJANA - The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) tabled a legislative proposal that gives newly elected MEPs a major say in the appointment of Slovenia's candidate for EU commissioner. While the existing law stipulates that the nominee is put forward by the government at the proposal of the prime minister, the NSi would make the nomination conditional on nods by at least five of Slovenia's eight MEPs. Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said that changing the procedure was out of the question at the moment, and the coalition parties also expressed reservations.

Erjavec announces draft of white paper on defence for June

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec told the parliamentary Defence Committee that the first draft of a white paper providing the basis for strategic documents on the future of the Slovenian army would likely be ready in June. The white paper is meant to address issues like staff shortages and career options for Armed Forces members after they turn 45, while it is also to provide answers on the future direction of the army and its equipment.

Defence Ministry takes measures against soldiers' union

LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry said it had terminated the agreement with the Trade Union of Soldiers (SVS) after the union publicly called for an ouster motion against Minister Karl Erjavec. In cancelling the agreement, under which it provides the conditions for the union's functioning, the ministry invoked the article of the defence act which states that trade unions cannot express opinions about the armed forces' formations and organisation, equipment, operations and preparedness. The ministry added that it would propose a new agreement to the union within three months. The termination of the existing one is subject to a six-month notice period.

Watchdog says Hungarian minority MP should lose seat

LJUBLJANA - The Corruption Prevention Commission established that Ferenc Horvath, the MP for the Hungarian minority, is violating the anti-corruption law by continuing to head the Pomurje Self-governing National Community (PMSNS), the Hungarian minority's umbrella organisation, while serving as MP, Dnevnik reported. While the commission's head, Boriš Štefanec, feels Horvath's term should already have been terminated, it will now be up to the National Assembly to make the next move.

City of Women festival receives Princess Margriet Award

LJUBLJANA - The City of Women is the recipient of the European Cultural Foundation's annual Princess Margriet Award for Culture. The award, honouring the festival's achievement in supporting women in culture and its intersectional feminist approach, will be presented in Amsterdam on 2 October and comes with a EUR 25,000 grant. The foundation said that the festival advocated intersectional feminism, with its very name indicating "the utopian potential of a space that nurtures the social organisation of women and people of non-binary gender".

101 victims of human trafficking registered in 2018

LJUBLJANA - A total of 101 victims of human trafficking were registered by Slovenian authorities in 2018, most of them being victims of sexual exploitation, shows a report adopted by the government which also notes human trafficking for forced criminality being handled by the police for the first time last year. The police handled a total of 71 human trafficking crimes against 33 individuals and three legal entities. The Specialised Prosecution Service filed one indictment against seven persons, and seven persons were convicted in court.

Telekom Slovenije group net profit up 4% in Q1

LJUBLJANA - The group around telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije posted a net profit of EUR 10.1 million in the first quarter of the year, up 4% year-on-year, while net sales revenue was down 6% to EUR 172 million. The report notes that revenue in the first quarters of 2019 and 2018 are not directly comparable, as the former do not include the revenue of the Bosnian subsidiary Blicnet, sold in 2018. The core company saw its operating revenue drop by 5% to EUR 157.5 million, EBITDA were up by 13% to EUR 49.9 million and net profit up by 30% to EUR 12.6 million.

Concession agreement for Divača-Koper track signed

LJUBLJANA - The government and 2TDK, a company established to build a new railway link to the port of Koper, signed a concession agreement for the construction and management of the 27-kilometre track for the next 45 years. The investment, estimated at more than EUR 1 billion, is covered by 2TDK and so are the costs of the services of the infrastructure manager, SŽ-Infrastruktura, a subsidiary of the state-owned rail operator. The state will pay a monthly access fee to 2TDK.

Unicredit posts lower profit in Slovenia in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Italian banking group Unicredit posted a consolidated profit of EUR 8 million in the first quarter of the year in Slovenia, down more than 6% over the same period in 2018 due to impairments to the tune of EUR 2 million and to a 20.1% drop in profit from trading in securities. Net interest revenue increased by 0.6% to EUR 11 million, whereas fees and commissions rose by as much as 17% to EUR 7 million.

First quarter of 2019 sees highest job vacancy rate after 2008

LJUBLJANA - The number of job vacancies and occupied posts in Slovenia increased in the first quarter of 2019, which reflected in the highest job vacancy rate (2.6%) after 2008, the Statistics Office said. In the first three months of the year the job vacancy rate was the highest in construction (7.1%) and in administrative and support service activities (5.1%), and the lowest (0.3%) in electricity.

09 May 2019, 02:36 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

EBRD keeps GDP growth forecast for Slovenia at 3.3%

NICOSIA, Cyprus - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has kept its GDP growth forecast for Slovenia at 3.3% in its spring report. The Slovenian economy is expected to expand by 2.8% in 2020. The latest GDP growth forecasts indicate Slovenia's economy will expand at around 3.4% this year and roughly 3% in 2020. The European Commission has also kept its forecast for Slovenia unchanged at 3.1% for this year and 2.8% for 2020 in its spring forecast.

Remaining executive posts at BAMC filled

LJUBLJANA - Andraž Grum and Bojan Gantar were appointed new executive directors of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) by the non-executive directors, to make the executive management complete after Matej Pirc was appointed CEO in April. They are expected to assume their duties at the end of the month when the board of directors assigns the areas of their responsibility. BAMC's board has been completely overhauled in recent months in the wake of an internal audit which found issues with the sale of land to Swiss Lonstroff for an elastomer plant in Logatec, and several other allegations.

Slovenian economy as a whole improves key indicators in 2018

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian economy as a whole significantly improved its performance last year, with total net profit of companies increasing by 16% and total revenues by 9%, according to the Agency for Public Legal Records (AJPES). The total net profit posted by Slovenian companies surpassed the total loss for the fifth year in a row in 2018, standing at EUR 4.2 billion, up 16% year-on-year. The 66,749 companies which submitted their business results for last year to AJPES meanwhile increased their combined revenue by 9% to EUR 100.8 billion. Revenues generated on the foreign markets amounted to EUR 40.7 billion, which is 10% more than in 2017.

Slovenia stays 5th best investment destination in SEE for Germans

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has remained the fifth most attractive destination for German investors among 15 countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), while 80% of German investors would reinvest in the country, which is 16 percentage points less than last year, the latest survey by the Slovenian-German Chamber of Commerce has shown. Slovenia's biggest shortcomings have remained the same - tax burden, tax system and authorities, high labour costs and rigid labour legislation. Also, the available labour force is shrinking. Slovenia is trailing only the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Estonia in the region.

Joining EU made Slovenia better, PM says

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Slovenia made the right decision by joining the EU 15 years ago, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said as he addressed a ceremony marking this anniversary. His Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel, who also addressed the event, praised Slovenia as a reliable and trustworthy partner and the voice of reason advocating for closer ties within the EU.

SDS proposes dismantling public sector pay system

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) have initiated a motion to exclude healthcare and the army from the uniform system covering wages across the entire public sector, in what could be the dismantling of a complex scheme put in place by an SDS-led government in 2008. The system is causing dissatisfaction, in particular when it comes to incentivising the best performers and those with the biggest workload, SDS deputy Jelka Godec told the press. The Public Administration Ministry said in a response that individual profession groups or parts of the public sector leaving the uniform system was not a guarantee that their pay would be regulated in a more appropriate way.

SDS, Left challenging changes to criminal procedure act

LJUBLJANA - The deputy groups of the opposition Democrats (SDS) and the Left filed a request for a constitutional review of the changes to the criminal procedure act which were passed on 26 March. They oppose the provisions on the use of covert investigative methods, and the obtaining of data on mobile traffic and financial transactions, which they believe breach people's privacy. They propose that the Constitutional Court suspend the implementation of the law pending its decision, annul the contentious provisions and task the government and parliament to present a new motion within two months.

Aluminium products maker Impol starts new production line in Croatia

ŠIBENIK, Croatia - Impol, Slovenia's largest maker of aluminium products, launched a new car industry production line in its subsidiary TLM in Croatia, consolidating its position in the car industry market. The cost of Impol's investment amounted to EUR 6.5 million, with the new combination cutting line enabling the company to expand its cold rolling mill production as well as the production of a wider variety of new products intended for industrial customers and specialised car and aircraft industry markets. The Šibenik-based company TLM, which was acquired by the Slovenska Bistrica-based company in 2017, employs more than 400 people, manufacturing some 9,000 tonnes of aluminium products per month

Journalists tried over leaks related to Mercator takeover

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik, its former editor-in-chief Suzana Rankov and three of its former journalists were put on trial for publishing in 2013 leaked transcriptions of phone calls of Tomaž Lovše, who acted as an advisor to Croatia's Agrokor in the takeover of Mercator. The defendants, who are charged with abuse of personal data, pleaded not guilty at today's pre-trial arraignment. The Slovenian Journalists' Association (DNS) condemned the case as a form of pressure on journalists and their sources.

All set for popular memorial walk in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Commemorating the liberation of Ljubljana at the end of the Second World War, tens of thousands will take a walk along a marked gravel path surrounding the city on Saturday. A barbed wire used to trace the path during WWII, when Ljubljana was occupied first by Italian and then German forces. The 63rd Walk along the Wire event will kick off already on Thursday, when kindergarten children will set out to conquer a part of the hike, followed by primary and secondary school children on Friday. The commemoration's highlight will be Saturday's hike as well as the run of three-member teams.

Druga Godba world music festival to entertain Ljubljana and Maribor

MARIBOR - Druga Godba, a festival of world music, will kick off in Ljubljana on 21 May and run until 25 May, when it will move to Maribor too. The event will feature 16 concerts of various music genres performers from eleven countries, including the acclaimed US experimental guitarist and composer Yonatan Gat and popular Ukrainian folk quartet DakhaBrakha. Visitors will also be able to enjoy the beats of the London-based Afrobeat band Kokoroko or groove to the sounds of the leading Polish jazz musician Maciej Obara. A Slovenian higlight will the 25th May performance of Bakalina Velika in Maribor.

08 May 2019, 07:32 AM

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Slovenia, Austria join forces for UNESCO listing of Lipizzan horses

GOING, Austria - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl signed a joint statement for the countries to submit a multinational bid to have traditional breeding of the Lipizzan horses listed as UNESCO intangible heritage. The initiative will also include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovakia. The bid is to be filed by March 2020, so that the listing could take place in 2021. Cerar started a two-day informal visit to Austria's Tirol on Monday.

SDS announces motion to oust Defence Minister Erjavec

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) announced they would bring a motion of no confidence in Defence Minister Karl Erjavec by the end of the week. The SDS will present details in the coming days, but the motion is likely linked to the allegation by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission that Erjavec abused the ministry's intelligence service to spy on Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc before sacking him as the army's force commander. The soldiers' trade union SVS urged such a motion against Erjavec yesterday. Erjavec called the motion unwarranted and PM Marjan Šarec said it had been expected.

Brussels keeps Slovenia growth forecast unchanged

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission kept the growth outlook for Slovenia in its spring economic forecast unchanged at 3.1% for this year and 2.8% for 2020, both of which are way above EU and eurozone average. Slovenia's general government surplus is to remain unchanged at 0.7% of GDP this year, before improving to 0.9% of GDP in 2020, but the structural deficit is to deteriorate further to 0.8% of GDP this year before, before improving to 0.3% of GDP the next.

FinMin argues need for structural reforms

PORTOROŽ - Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj argued that Slovenia should set itself ambitious goals and try to achieve them, but said key task were reforms, as he addressed a two-day financial conference that opened in Portorož. "We need a pact for development breakthrough," he said, noting the solid economic outlook for the country. Meanwhile, Egon Zakrajšek from the US Federal Reserve outlined the situation in global markets, saying indicators in the US showed the likelihood of recession was almost 60%.

Bankers agree market consolidation will continue

PORTOROŽ - Speaking at a round table debate at the Financial Conference, bankers shared the view that there are too many banks in Slovenia and that consolidation of the market will continue. Marko Košak of the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics said that consolidation of the system remained in focus, as the growth potential of the existing banks was limited, with economies of scale being increasingly put in the forefront when it comes to cost cutting. Representatives of the banks NLB, NKBM, UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo agreed with him.

Pahor highlights May Declaration's momentous role

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor hosted a reception to mark 30 years since a document setting out a demand for Slovenia's sovereignty was read out at a mass rally in Ljubljana's Congress Square. In his address Pahor noted the role that the May Declaration played in Slovenia's independence. "Its greatest value is linking democracy, sovereignty and Slovenia's place in an overhauled Europe, which also makes it important for the future," he said. The reception was also addressed by Dimitrij Rupel, a co-author of the declaration who would later become Slovenia's foreign minister.

Puigdemont to visit Ljubljana on Friday

LJUBLJANA - Former Slovenian President Milan Kučan and MEP Ivo Vajgl (Alde/DeSUS) will host Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont in Ljubljana on Friday. The Kučan-led Forum 21 outfit said Puigdemont had chosen Slovenia as one of his starting European election campaign venues. Puigdemont, who has been living in exile in Belgium, will run for a seat in the European Parliament on a slate featuring several Catalan parties, including his Together for Catalonia.

Ex-Slovenian judge not to stand for EU parliament in France

LJUBLJANA - Boštjan M. Zupančič, a former Slovenian judge at the European Court of Human Rights, will not stand for election to the European Parliament on the ticket of the French Popular Republican Union (UPR). This follows from the list of candidates dubbed Together for Frexit, which was released by the French Interior Ministry on its website. Zupančič, 71, confirmed for the STA in February he had accepted UPR leader Francois Asselineau's invitation to stand on their ticket.

Catholic Church speaks out against euthanasia

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Catholic Church expressed its opposition to euthanasia in response to a petition urging its legalisation, which has been signed by over 5,000 people since February. The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference called on all citizens and Catholics in particular to "defend vigorously the individual's right to appropriate healthcare and care for the elderly, terminally ill and the dying".

Jobless total drops by 3.4% to under 74,000

LJUBLJANA - The positive trend on Slovenia's labour market continued in April, as the jobless total dropped by 5.8% year-on-year and by 3.4% over March to 73,965. The Employment Service registered 4,962 persons as newly unemployed, a 1.2% decrease on March and a 5.2% drop from April 2018. The majority registered after their fixed term contracts expired. Job vacancies in the first four months totalled 50,809, a 5.2% year-on-year increase.

Elan's sale to Finnish fund KJK completed

BEGUNJE NA GORENJSKEM - The sports equipment manufacturer Elan announced that its sale to the Finnish-owned KJK fund had been completed. The new owners say Elan will play a central role in KJK's plans to form a group of sports equipment makers. Elan will continue to be led by CEO Jeffrey Tirman, who will take over at the helm of the new holding company of the group, KJK Sports. The group will also include Estonian sports vessels producer Tahe Outdoors and the Bulgarian bicycle maker Leader 96.

Unicredit Banka Slovenije gets new CEO

LJUBLJANA - The supervisors of Unicredit Banka Slovenija, part of the Italian banking group Unicredit, confirmed the appointment of Marco Esposito as the bank's new CEO. Esposito is to succeed Stefan Vavti on 1 June or after approval from the ECB as the regulator. Esposito is presently Unicredit's head global transaction banking for Central and Eastern Europe. Between 2011 and 2017 he was in charge of business and investment banking at Unicredit's Romanian subsidiary.

Activists urge end to bear culling

LJUBLJANA - A group of around 20 animal rights activists staged a rally in front of the Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry headquarters, demanding an end to bear and wolf culling. They called on farmers to turn to other means to protect their produce and farm animals, including electric fencing. The ministry responded by arguing that limited culling, based on expert assessments, was necessary. The government's plans to cull 200 bears and 11 wolves have recently been thwarted by an NGO in court.

07 May 2019, 02:18 AM

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Erjavec under fire over force commender dismissal

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec is facing a barrage of criticism following the allegation that he abused the army intelligence service (OVS) to dismiss Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc as the army's force commander. PM Marjan Šarec demanded a report from him to clear up the allegation, made last month by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission. Erjavec announced he would send the report to Šarec and President Borut Pahor as the supreme commander tomorrow or on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Trade Union of Soldiers urged MPs to file an ouster motion against Erjavec over Škerbinc's dismissal and his attitude to the army.

Pivec meet Italian official to discuss Rebula cross-border protection

BRDA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec and Massimiliano Fedriga, president of the Italian region Friuli Venezia-Giulia, urged cooperation in efforts to jointly protect the Rebula wine grown in the cross-border area, as they met in the hilly Brda. The proposal for the protected designation of origin implies establishing an 800-hectare wine-growing area covering Slovenia's Brda plus Italy's wine-growing areas Collio and Colli Orientali. Pivec announced a cross-border task force would be set up by June featuring representatives of Rebula wine growers and politicians.

Equal opportunities ombudsman presents 2018 report

LJUBLJANA - Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik presented his annual report to Speaker Dejan Židan, saying the anti-discrimination office had processed five cases of possible discrimination in 2018 but confirmed prejudicial treatment in only one case. However, he said the report's results did not reflect the actual situation, noting discrimination was more prevalent, but people were not inclined to report it for various reasons. Židan urged Lobnik to put forward a proposal to adopt legislation enabling his office to more efficiently help individuals encountering unjust treatment.

Some 140 migrants apprehended at the weekend

LJUBLJANA/KOPER/NOVO MESTO - The Novo Mesto, Koper and Ljubljana police departments registered more than 140 instances of migrants crossing the border illegally at the weekend. Two foreigners were hiding in the chassis of a train engine and a Pakistani citizen wanted to smuggle ten migrants into Slovenia in his car. The biggest number of illegal migrants, 64, were processed by the Koper Police Department since Friday. So far, 15 have applied for international protection, but most are to be returned to Croatia.

Slovenia hosting regional military exercises

CERKLJE OB KRKI/POSTOJNA - A series of regional military exercises got under way in Slovenia, involving the Slovenian Armed Forces and troops from 25 allied and partner countries. The goal is to make them better prepared to provide security and preserve peace in the region. Running until 22 June, the exercises started with the tactical exercise dubbed Immediate Response, held under the leadership of US Army Europe and Slovenian and Croatian armed forces. It features almost 3,000 troops.

MEP Vajgl to receive second highest decoration of Catalonia

LJUBLJANA - The government of Catalonia will decorate Slovenian MEP Ivo Vajgl (ALDE/DeSUS), the head of the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform group of MEPs, with St George's Cross, the second highest civil distinction awarded in Catalonia. The MEP's office has recently announced that Vajgl would receive Creu de Sant Jordi for his contribution in Catalonia's independence efforts, adding that the MEP had expressed his sincere gratitude for the acknowledgement.

Ex-ombudsman named advisor to President Pahor

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor named Vlasta Nussdorfer, the former human rights ombudsman, his advisor for human rights, charitable activities and social policies. As a non-paid official Nussdorfer is joining Pahor's other three advisers France Arhar, the first governor of Slovenia's central bank, Ernest Petrič, the former Constitutional Court president, and Boštjan Žekš, the former president of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts. They all perform their services for free.

Slovenian-born foreman of Watergate grand jury dies

WASHINGTON, US - The Slovenian-born foreman of Watergate grand jury, Vladimir Pregelj, died on Saturday, a day before turning 92. The long-serving Library of Congress researcher helped Slovenia immensely during independence efforts in the late 1980s. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar expressed his condolences to Pregelj's family, describing Pregelj as an "intellectual and a great Slovenian who helped Slovenian diplomats to open Congressmen's doors". He is expected to be buried at Žale cemetery in Ljubljana.

Fuel prices to rise to autumn 2018 levels

LJUBLJANA - The administrated prices of regular petrol and diesel will increase at midnight. Regular will be 0.6 cents more expensive at EUR 1,355 a litre, a record high since last October, while the price of diesel will go up by 1.3 cents to EUR 1,292, the highest since November, according to the Economy Ministry.

Slovenian researchers publish major paper on cell differentiation

LJUBLJANA - A team that also featured five Slovenian researches has published a groundbreaking cell differentiation paper that can potentially help revolutionise personalised regenerative medicine. Contributing to the paper, published in the Molecular Cell magazine, were London-based researchers Miha Modic and Jernej Ule, Gregor Rot of the University of Zurich, Tjaša Lepko from the Helmholtz Centre in Munich and Boris Roglej of the Jožef Stefan Institute. The researchers described the regulatory network explaining the starting events leading to an effective differentiation of stem cells and the development of an embryo.

Drama festival to showcase contemporary European theatre

LJUBLJANA - The 6th Drama festival will get under way at the SNG Drama Ljubljana theatre on 25 May, featuring some of the best contemporary European plays until 31 May. Seven productions, including those by Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Czech theatres, will be in the running for the audience's award for best production, named after the late actor Jernej Šugman. The festival will open with Michelangelo, based on the play by Croatian author Miroslav Krleža and directed by Slovenian Sebastijan Horvat.

06 May 2019, 02:33 AM

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Roglič wins second Tour de Romandie title

GENEVA, Switzerland - Slovenian cycling sensation Primož Roglič clinched his second consecutive title as the overall winner of the Tour de Romandie after winning the time trial in Geneva in his third stage win of the week. This is the fifth overall UCI World Tour race victory for Roglič. He is also one of the favourites to win the Giro d'Italia, starting with a time trial in Bologna on Saturday. "I'm ready for the Giro now," the 29-year old announced after the race.

Slovenia's Brussels office second smallest in EU

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A survey by Danish think-tank Europa found that Slovenia's permanent representation in Brussels is smaller that the country's population size would suggest, in fact it is the smallest after Latvia's, having 70 staff. Ranking member states' permanent representations according to their size, staff status and the length of secondments, the study found that these parameters matter in wielding power in Brussels, especially for small countries.

Golden Bee Prize to raise awareness globally

LJUBLJANA - After successfully initiating declaration of 20 May as World Bee Day, Slovenia is planning to launch a Golden Bee Prize in recognition of innovative projects raising awareness of importance of bees worldwide. According to a government document, the award would be handed out by Slovenia's president for the first time in 2021 when the country holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union. The award would come with a EUR 30,000 cheque.

Driven by exports, Mlinotest sales and profit up in 2018

AJDOVŠČINA - Mlinotest, the Ajdovščina-based bread and pasta company, is looking back at a successful year. The company saw its profit rise by 18% to EUR 2m last year as revenue increased by 9% to EUR 55.9m, driven by a 22% growth in exports. Commenting on the results, the company's CEO Danilo Kobal pointed out in particular good sales in Germany and Latin America, where they expect to expand further.
This year, sales are projected to increase by 9% and net profit by 10%.

Ice hockey team routs Lithuania to avoid relegation

ASTANA, Kazakhstan - Slovenia routed Lithuania 9:0 at the Ice Hockey World Championship Division I in Kazakhstan's capital to avoid relegation to the third-tier competition. Having won only two out of five games, Slovenia will finish the tournament in the fourth spot in Group A. Placing last, Lithuania are being relegated to the third league of world ice hockey. Having missed their goal, Slovenia will try to return to the elite division next year.

05 May 2019, 02:47 AM

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PM says EU institutions need better leadership

LJUBLJANA - The EU needs better leadership, according to Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who told the Saturday edition of the newspaper Delo that he wants to see better leadership schemes at EU institutions in the future. For the leadership to improve, political affiliation must become much less important.

Židan sees cracks in EU multilateralism

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan, the head of the coalition Social Democrats (SD), said in an interview for the Saturday edition of the daily Večer that EU multilateralism was on the decline, but pointed out that the EU was still the best option available.

Rail operator open to partnerships for subsidiary

LJUBLJANA - The chairman of the national railways operator Slovenske Železnice (SŽ) Dušan Mes told Dnevnik that the company was on the lookout for a partner for its construction subsidiary, ŽGP.

Journalist and author Peter Kolšek dies

LJUBLJANA - Journalist, poet and critic Peter Kolšek died on Friday aged 67. He was a long-term culture editor of the newspaper Delo and was considered one of the most prominent Slovenian journalists of the past three decades.

Slovenia's Roglič wins 4th stage of Romandy tour

MONTREUX, Switzerland - Slovenian racing cyclist Primož Roglič won the fourth stage of the 2019 Tour de Romandie on Saturday, consolidating his lead in the overall rankings.

04 May 2019, 03:11 AM

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Societe Generale to sell SKB Banka to Hungarian OTP

PARIS, France - The French group Societe Generale signed an agreement with OTP Bank Group on selling SKB Banka and its subsidiaries to the Hungarian financial service provider, which will thus enter the Slovenian market. The value of the deal for SKB, which is among the top five largest banks in the country and generated EUR 57.6m in net profit in 2018, has not been disclosed. OTP is reportedly also one of the three most serious bidders for Slovenia's third largest bank Abanka. Societe Generale acquired SKB in 2001, when it was the third largest Slovenian bank.

Slovenian journalists call for freedom and protection of press

LJUBLJANA - Marking World Press Freedom Day, the Slovene Association of Journalists (DNS) urged politicians, media owners and the public to respect and keep protecting the freedom of the press. Journalists are facing an unprecedented amount of pressure nowadays, warned the DNS about the media situation in Slovenia. The Association of Journalists and Publicists (ZNP) urged the authorities to search for measures reducing political pressure on the public media.

Maribor criminal police head replaced after driving drunk

MARIBOR - The head of the Maribor criminal police Robert Munda has been replaced by his deputy Andrej Kolbl nearly three months after he was caught driving drunk. According to the official statement of the Maribor Police, the replacement had nothing to do with the incident. Munda was transferred due to requirements of work organisation, public communications officer Miran Šadl told public broadcaster Radio Slovenija.

Cream of EU cinema awaiting film lovers as part of Europe Film Week

LJUBLJANA - The Europe Film Week will start on 4 May, featuring free screenings of 33 contemporary European films in twelve Slovenian cities and running until 13 June. The screenings will be held all around the country, in Celje, Maribor, Murska Sobota, Nova Gorica, Sežana, Kranj, Novo Mesto, Dolenjske Toplice, Izola, Slovenska Bistrica, Ptuj and Ravne na Koroškem.

02 May 2019, 08:04 AM

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Šarec says Labour Day is not ideological holiday

RAVNE NA KOROŠKEM - Addressing a Labour Day ceremony in Ravne na Koroškem, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said that Labour Day was not an ideological holiday but a "holiday of good people, who like to spend time together, who work hard every day and who love their country." Šarec said that celebrations such as those marking Labour Day were important for exchanging views and for a positive atmosphere in the country.

Pahor urges Slovenians to turn out in EU election

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor urged Slovenians to cast their votes in the upcoming European Parliament elections in an interview with the STA ahead the 15th anniversary of Slovenia's joining the EU, observed today. The vote will show whether more people support the union or oppose it, Pahor believes. "All of us, who see the EU as brining a future of peace, security, prosperity and the future for our children have the obligation to do something ... It is our responsibility to encourage people to vote," he said.

Cerar congratulates Slovenians on EU membership anniversary

WARSAW, Poland - "The European Union is strong because it is united by its diversity and differences, big and small," Foreign Minister Miro Cerar tweeted on Wednesday. The minister, who is attending a ceremony in Warsaw, marking the 15th anniversary of the accession of ten countries to the EU, including Slovenia, congratulated Slovenians on the anniversary. Cerar also held bilateral talks with his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz on the sidelines of the event. The pair talked about cooperation between Slovenia and Poland as part of the EU, according to Cerar.

Trade unions point to working time issues on Labour Day

LJUBLJANA - Ahead of this year's Labour Day, the Slovenian trade unions pointed out that many employees work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours per week or take their work home. Unions also warned about the dangers of precarious work. The head of the ZSSS trade union confederation Lidija Jerkič told the STA that work has been increasingly invading private lives also due to overall digitalisation and modern technologies.

Slovenia's GDP per capita up 40% since EU accession

BRUSSELS, Belgium - GDP per capita increased by 41% in Slovenia since the country joined the EU 15 years ago, according to a leaflet issued by the European Commission on the eve of Slovenia's accession. Since 2004, Slovenia received EUR 9.2bn in structural and investments funds from the EU and since 2014, the EU has provided structural funding equivalent to 29% of all public investments in the country.


01 May 2019, 02:50 AM

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Šarec urges comprehensive, fully implementable Kosovo-Serbia agreement

BERLIN, Germany - PM Marjan Šarec stressed as one of the participants of Monday's informal summit on the Western Balkans that the much needed agreement between Kosovo and Serbia would have to be in line with international law, well coordinated and comprehensive. While the summit, hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, failed to revive the stalled dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina, Šarec highlighted Slovenia's support to the region on its Euroatlantic path. He stressed the EU needed to remain active in encouraging good relations and pointed to the Greece-North Macedonia agreement as an import model for how to reach compromise.

Annual inflation rate at 1.7% in April, monthly at 0.8%

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate in April was at 1.7%, up 0.1 percentage points compared to March, while 0.8% inflation was recorded on the monthly level. Annual inflation was mostly driven by higher prices of energy, and monthly inflation by dearer holidays and footwear, the Statistics Office said. In one year, service prices went up on average by 3.6% and goods prices by 0.8%. The annual rate has been rising since the start of the year.

First quarter budget deficit down 9% y/y to EUR 201.8m

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's budget deficit amounted to EUR 201.8m in the first quarter of the year, down 9% compared to the same period last year, the Finance Ministry said, adding that a deficit was nothing unusual in that part of the year due to the payment of a major part of interest and subsidies. Budget revenue increased by 9% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019 to EUR 2.36bn, while expenditure was up by 7.5% to EUR 2.56bn. Tax revenue was up by 8.5% to EUR 2.04bn, while the state paid EUR 402m in interest in the first quarter, which is 12.6% less year-on-year.

German president to visit Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The president's office announced that German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will arrive in Slovenia for a two-day official visit on 9 May. The future of the EU and the upcoming elections to the European Parliament will be in the focus of talks between President Borut Pahor and his guest. They will also discuss the situation on the international community, especially the Western Balkans and the "possibilities and the readiness of countries in the region to join Euro-Atlantic integrations".

Erjavec appoints new army's force commander

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec has appointed Brigadier Milan Žurman the new force commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces, to succeed Brigadier Miha Škerbinc, who was dismissed at the beginning of April. Žurman, who previously served as the deputy force commander, will take over today, the Defence Ministry said, noting that the appointment came on the proposal by the chief of the general staff, Maj Gen Alenka Ermenc. Škerbinc was dismissed ostensibly because he allowed shooting with heavy weapons late at night at the Poček training grounds near Postojna.

SDS only issued reprimand over illegal EUR 450,000 loan from Bosnian

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Local Court has drastically reduced the fine originally issued to the opposition Democrats (SDS) in connection to the first of two violations of the political parties act, while only issuing a reprimand as opposed to a fine in connection to the second, shows a report by the weekly Demokracija. The SDS was indicted by the Court of Audit in March 2018 over two contentious loans it took out in 2017, and found guilty by the local court earlier this year, but reports about the details have been conflicting. The local court, which maintains that the SDS broke the law in both cases, has revised upon the SDS's appeal both of its original verdicts.

DZS group increases profit, revenue

LJUBLJANA - Tourism and media group DZS posted EUR 2.5m in net profit last year, an improvement over the EUR 91,000 in profit generated the year before. Sales revenue was at EUR 87m, slightly higher than in 2017, DZS said in the business report. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) went up by a third, from EUR 3.2m to EUR 4.3m, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) went from audited EUR 8.6m in 2017 to EUR 9.9m.

Report says Turkish embassy spied on Erdogan critics in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The Swedish news portal Nordic Monitor claims it has obtained secret documents revealing that diplomats working at the Turkish Embassy in Ljubljana spied on a number of critics of Turkey's government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Foreign Ministry told the STA that it was not familiar with Nordic Monitor's report and does not want to comment. The STA has also contacted the Turkish Embassy for comment.

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