Ljubljana related

02 Aug 2019, 02:38 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia to host NATO top body meeting in September

LJUBLJANA - The STA learnt that Slovenia would host on 13 and 14 September a meeting of the NATO Military Committee, the alliance's highest military body bringing together around 400 attendees, among them some 150 top military personnel from NATO countries. Also in attendance will be a civil representative of Iceland, which does not have a standing army.

Govt to extend auxiliary police deployment

LJUBLJANA - The government indicated it is planning to extend the deployment of auxiliary police to help the regular force cope with a spike in illegal migration on the Schengen border with Croatia and with other duties. Under the proposed decree, released on the government web site, auxiliary police will be deployed until the end of the year to help patrol the border and stand in for absent regular police officers. The proposal notes that illegal migration rose by more than 45% year-on-year in the first half of the year. It also notes a deterioration in road safety and the engagement of larger numbers of police officers in providing the security at a number of high-risk events.

Luka Koper picks parking garage contractor

KOPER - The port operator Luka Koper has selected the GIC Gradnje construction company and its business partner Pro-concrete for the project of constructing a parking garage that will feature 6,000 parking spaces and expand car terminal capacities. The parking garage, whose value had been estimated at some EUR 19 million, will increase the company's annual vehicle transshipment amount by 162,000 cars, expand storage capacities and meet the growing demands of clients for covered storage areas as well as improve internal logistics.

Inquiry ordered on suspicion judge's health records compromised

MARIBOR - UKC Maribor, Slovenia's second largest hospital, will have to conduct an internal inquiry on suspicion of mass unauthorised access to the health records of a Maribor judge who was recently brutally assaulted. The Health Ministry has ordered that a special commission check whether hospital staff or even some outside the hospital had accessed the health records of Danijela Ružič, a Maribor judge who suffered severe injuries in an assault in front of her Maribor home in mid-June, the newspaper Večer reported.

Ombudsman condemns hate speech ahead of Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day

MARIBOR/MURSKA SOBOTA - Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina condemned hate speech in Slovenia as he addressed an event on the eve of the Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day at the Maribor Synagogue. Slovenia likes to boast about being tolerant and open, having a wealth of cultural diversity, but in reality the opposite is often true, said Svetina. The Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day is observed on 2 August, when in a single night 75 years ago the Nazis killed nearly 3,000 Roma and Sinti at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Most of the victims were women, children and elderly.

Greenpeace projects environmental slogans on TEŠ cooling tower

ŠOŠTANJ - Activists of Greenpeace Slovenija projected environmental messages on one of the cooling towers of the Šoštanj thermal power plant (TEŠ) early this morning to call on Prime Minister Marjan Šarec to recognise the climate crisis as a national crisis and take immediate measures. Using a projector, the activists wrote slogans on the cooling tower, including The Alarms are Ringing, This Is a Climate Crisis and Take Measures.

Slovenian mountaineers win Piolet d'Or once more

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian mountaineers Aleš Česen, Luka Stražar and Brit Tom Livingston will receive the Piolet d'Or, the top award in mountaineering, in September for their ascent of Latok I in August last year. The threesome were only the second expedition that ascended the 7145-metre Latok I and the first ever to reach the peak over its north face. This will be the second Pioler d'Or for both Česen and Stražar. The former was part of an expedition that won the award in 2015, while the latter was part of an expedition honoured in 2012. It will also be the eight Piolet d'Or going to Slovenia, since the award was first handed out 27 years ago. Only last year, Andrej Štremfelj was honoured with the lifetime achievement award.

Janja Garnbret a Sportswoman of the Year finalist

NEW YORK, US - Slovenia's climbing sensation Janja Garnbret has made it among the ten finalists for the Sportswoman of the Year award for 2019, conferred since 1980 by the New York-based Women's Sports Foundation. Garnbret, currently ranked No. 1 in the world by the International Federation of Sport Climbing, has been picked side by side with the likes of US alpine skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin and artistic gymnastic champion Simone Biles, US track and field athlete Ajee Wilson, US boxer Claressa Shields, US mountain biker Kate Courtney, US Paralympic swimmer Rebecca Meyers, Paralympic triathlete Allysa Seely, UK auto racer Jamie Chadwick and South Korean golfer Jin Young Ko.

Maribor make it to third round of Champions League qualifiers

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Slovenian football champions Maribor qualified for the third round of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers by eliminating AIK in Stockholm on Wednesday evening by virtue of scoring more away goals. Maribor had to work extra time as the regular time ended with a 3:3 tie on aggregate.

European Junior Olympiad in Informatics taking place in Maribor

LJUBLJANA - Maribor will host at the end of August the third European Junior Olympiad in Informatics (EJOI). Slovenia sees the event, which will feature around 90 competitors from 23 countries, as a good opportunity for promotion of IT, coding as well as the country itself. The competition will take place at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science between 23 and 29 August.

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01 Aug 2019, 02:23 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia's annual inflation hits 2% in July

LJUBLJANA - Consumer prices in Slovenia grew at an annual rate of 2% in July, up from 1.8% in June and the highest level since the end of last year, even as prices declined by 0.7% at the monthly level due to summer clearance sales. Prices in the group housing were the biggest drivers of inflation, accounting for 0.6 percentage points of the annual growth rate on the back of much higher water and electricity prices. Dearer food contributed another 0.5 percentage points.

Govt budget EUR 200m in surplus

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's government budget posted a surplus of EUR 208.2 million for the first half of the year, which compares to a surplus of EUR 184.2 million in the same period a year ago, data from the Finance Ministry show. The revised budget for 2019, passed in March, projects a revenue of EUR 10.35 billion and EUR 10.16 billion in expenditure with a surplus of EUR 193.6 million.

Pahor certain that border with Croatia will be implemented

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor posted a series of tweets, noting that an agreement was reached ten years ago today that led to the 2017 border arbitration award by the International Court of Arbitration. Despite Croatia's refusal to acknowledge the award, he believes that the award will be implemented sooner or later. "Some European leaders have stated clearly that Slovenia is right and that the award needs to be respected. At the same time, many hint that we should do this in a way that would allow Croatia to save face. To them I say that the only right and honest thing to do is to treat Croatia like any other responsible contracting party, liable to meet all of its obligations, and not treat it like a spoilt child who only does what it wants."

Ex-minister sees Lenarčič candidacy as sign of deeper problems

LJUBLJANA - Dimitrij Rupel, the long-serving former foreign minister, took issue with the candidacy of Janez Lenarčič for the commissioner job in an op-ed in Delo, saying he was not the best fit for the job. Indeed, he sees the candidacy as a sign of deeper problems for the political class. Lenarčič is "a capable and decent diplomat, but he is neither a former prime minister or deputy prime minister, neither foreign or finance minister, and neither MEP, which means he has never contested an election," Rupel says.

Career diplomat Suhadolnik appointed ambassador to China

LJUBLJANA - Career diplomat Alenka Suhadolnik has been appointed Slovenia's ambassador to China. She is currently serving as the director general of the Foreign Ministry's Directorate for Economic and Public Diplomacy and has previously served as Slovenia's ambassador to Israel. President Borut Pahor signed the order appointing her the new ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to China on 12 July, the Foreign Ministry said in today's press release.

Cinkarna Celje's half-year revenue, profit down

CELJE - The chemical company Cinkarna Celje saw its sales revenue drop by 5.6% year-on-year to EUR 92.7 million in the first half of the year. Net profit meanwhile plummeted by 57% to EUR 9.7 million, the company said on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange. The management said in the half-year report that the poorer results were a consequence of a changed balance in the supply and demand for the titanium dioxide, its main product.

Slovenia's beer exports up by almost 20% last year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian beer exports grew by almost 20% in 2018 year-on-year, while hop exports increased by 17%, showed the Statistics Office data released ahead of International Beer Day, which is observed on the first Friday in August. The country's beer exports exceeded imports last year - exports topped EUR 34 million, while imports reached EUR 28.5 million. Slovenia exported most of its beer to Croatia (30%), while most of Slovenian beer imports, which decreased slightly last year (by 3%), came from Austria (40%).

Slovenia starts brewing zero-alcohol Heineken

LJUBLJANA - Pivovarna Laško Union, the Slovenian subsidiary of the Dutch brewer Heineken, got the green light in July to start brewing and bottling non-alcoholic Heineken beer. The EUR 2 million investment will consolidate the Slovenian company's role as one of the major exporters within the Dutch group. The first batch of zero-alcohol Heineken beer produced in Slovenia proved satisfactory in May, meeting all the global Heineken requirements. Regular production has been launched this month.

Protesters rally for affordable housing

LJUBLJANA - A few dozen people, mostly young, protested against what they believe will be a recapitalisation of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC), the bad bank, through the national Housing Fund. Dubbed Where Will We Sleep Tomorrow?, the civil initiative believes that the Housing Fund should not have to pay for the plots it is to receive from the bad bank. "The Housing Fund has not been recapitalised since 2009. Now, the government decided to recapitalise the fund to the tune of the value of the plots that are to be transferred from BAMC. This means that the entire sum will immediately be forwarded to BAMC," said Klemen Ploštajner.

Retailer Jagros ventures into bakery business

ROGAŠKA SLATINA - Jagros, a family-run business operating a chain of retail stores in the north-east of the country, has acquired the Ptuj-based bakery Ptujske Pekarne in Slaščičarne as part of its expansion drive. Jagros acquired the bakery and its debts from Bank Assets Management Company, taken over from the liquidated bank Probanka. The newspaper Delo values the deal at half a million euro.

Slovenian tourism bullish in first half of year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian tourism continued to boom in the first half of the year. Arrivals were up by over 6% compared to the same period last year to 2.6 million, with accommodation facilities recording 6.3 million nights, an increase of 10%, fresh statistics show. While domestic arrivals increased just 4% to 733,000, foreign arrivals surged by 8% to 1.8 million, mostly due to increases in arrivals from the most important source countries.

Govt to allocate EUR 1.7m to towns affected by army activities

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed a programme of financing of local infrastructural projects this year and in 2020 in three municipalities that are affected by activities and training of the Slovenian armed forces. In line with the decision, the Defence Ministry will allocate EUR 1.7 million for infrastructure projects in the municipalities of Pivka, Ilirska Bistrica and Brežice. The three municipalities are home to the army's main training grounds Poček, shooting ground Bač and the Cerklje ob Krki airbase.

Prime suspect from prostitution ring sought by Interpol

LJUBLJANA - Interpol has issued an arrest warrant against Slovenian businessmen Sergej Racman, the former owner of the cinema chain operator Kolosej, who is being sought by the Slovenian police in connection with a prostitution ring that was allegedly operating near Nova Gorica. Racman has recently been indicted as the prime suspect together with 17 persons after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) completed in January a four-year investigation into prostitution, human trafficking and drug abuse in the areas of Nova Gorica and Maribor.

Police apprehend trafficker of illegals after traffic accident

ORMOŽ - The police apprehended on Tuesday a Serbian citizen who was transporting six Turkish Kurds who had entered Slovenia illegally. He was caught only after a chase, during which he caused a traffic accident in Ormož (NE). As the initial attempt by the police to stop the vehicle failed, the police started following it, with the chase lasting some ten minutes.

Modern photography on display in Novo Mesto

NOVO MESTO - The 6th international festival of contemporary photography Fotopub started in Novo Mesto in south-east. Until Sunday, 27 artists from ten European countries and China will be presented at six exhibitions. The exhibitions will explore the difference between reality and fiction, which "can become a tool for constructing collective and individual identities through visual and popular culture and information technologies".

Four-days music festival starts in Fara

KOSTEL - A four-day music festival started in the idyllic village of Fara in the south, including camping on the Kolpa river. The long list of bands that will entertain the crowd includes Asian Dub Foundation, Soulfly, Skindred and Inner Circle. The organisers have also prepared a variety of activities to keep visitors entertained during the day.

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31 Jul 2019, 02:09 AM

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Watchdog says Dnevnik-Večer merger does not decrease competition

LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency (AVK) has published its decision to approve the tie-up of Dnevnik and Večer, in which it says that the merger of the publishers of the second and third largest daily newspapers in the country does not decrease or prevent effective competition on the relevant markets. The AVK said it had examined exclusively the economic impact of the merger, while media plurality aspects had been in the jurisdiction of the Culture Ministry, which approved the merger, expected to have a 40% share on the printed media market, last December. Journalists and pundits have mostly criticised the development and the Trade Union of Journalists protested today against a planned dismissal of seven employees of Večer as part of the merger.

Fiscal Council demands projections of planned pension legislation changes

LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council has warned that some of the measures included in the changes to the pension legislation, which have been put up for public debate, could jeopardise the long-term sustainability of the country's public finances. Under the changes, the pensionable base for men with the full 40 years of service would increase from 57.25% to 63.5% by 1 January 2025. Meanwhile, the latter figure is already in place for women. The Fiscal Council said that the government should provide long-term projections before the end of the public debate in early September.

Three bids for construction of Maribor-Šentilj railway

LJUBLJANA - As part of an ongoing upgrade of the rail line between Maribor and the Šentilj border crossing with Austria, three bids have been submitted for the construction of a demanding new section. According to the Infrastructure Agency, the lowest bid was submitted by a local consortium headed by Pomgrad and including Kolektor Koling, SŽ-ŽGP, GH-Holding and Gorenjska Gradbena Družba. The Turkish company Cengiz is bidding to build the section for EUR 117.4 million, and the Austrian builder Strabag placed for EUR 136.6 million.

Army trade unionist opposes disciplinary procedure launched against him

LJUBLJANA - The head of the Trade Union of Soldiers (SVS), Gvido Novak, left a hearing in a disciplinary procedure launched against him after only a few minutes. He argues the hearing is illegal because it is being held behind closed doors. Novak did, however, submit a written statement, referring to article 76 of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of trade union activity. Chief of the General Staff Alenka Ermenc had launched a disciplinary procedure against Novak over alleged severe disciplinary violations.

Slovenian researchers make major discovery to treat depression

LJUBLJANA - Researchers at the Ljubljana Faculty of Medicine presented the discovery of a new molecular mechanism of action in ketamine that they say opens up new potential for development of fast-acting antidepressants. Ketamine, a medication used primarily for starting and maintaining anaesthesia, is already applied to treat depression in the US but not yet in Europe. The discovery could accelerate making the drug available as an antidepressant soon in Europe as well.

Ministry says Slovenia is global hop production powerhouse

ŽALEC - Slovenia is one of the leading hop producers worldwide, exporting between 95% and 99% of its hop production, said the Agriculture Ministry as this year's International Hop Growers' Convention, running until Friday, was officially opened in Žalec. Addressing the opening, Agriculture Ministry State Secretary Tanja Strniša said the ministry supported hop field rejuvenation and techniques of producing noble varieties of hops. The head of the Slovenian Institute of Hop Research and Brewing Martina Zupančič said Slovenia was the fifth largest hop producer in the world - every 12th pint of beer worldwide is made of Slovenian hops. According to the website of RTV Slovenija, Slovenia accounts for 3% of global hop production.

Foreign citizens increasing Slovenian population

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's population stood at 2,084,301 on 1 April, which is 3,400 more than at the start of January, the Statistics Office reported. The increase however comes on account of a larger number of foreign citizens, with the number of Slovenian citizens in fact decreasing. The number of Slovenian citizens dropped by 1,600 in the first quarter of 2019, while the number of foreign citizens grew by 5,000 to 143,192 and represented 6.9% of Slovenia's population.

Fancy a game of Ping-Pong over the border fence?

NOVO MESTO - The Simulaker gallery in Novo Mesto will launching an interactive exhibition tonight that will allow the visitors to partake in a game of Ping-Pong over the border fence between Slovenia and Croatia. The installation comes after an artist, active internationally under the pseudonym name:, played a game of table tennis with a partner over the fence along the Kolpa river in April. A recording of the performance will now be screened in the gallery, while the visitors will be invited to scale ladders to engage in symbolic inter-government ping-pong over a similar table. The installation will be open until 10 August.

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30 Jul 2019, 02:14 AM

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Merger of publishers Dnevnik and Večer cleared

LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - The Competition Protection Agency (AVK) has given a nod to the merger of Dnevnik and Večer, the publishers of the second and third largest daily newspapers in the country, respectively. The AVK said on Monday it had established that the merger was in line with the competition rules. The content of the decision is yet to be published, while the managements of both publishers have already received it. The clearance was first reported by the public broadcaster Radio Slovenija, which said the joint company would have a 40% share on the printed media market, which is believed to have been the reason why the deliberations of the AVK on the case took a whole year.

Approval rating for govt, Šarec up in POP TV poll

LJUBLJANA - The voter approval rating for the Marjan Šarec government increased further in a poll commissioned by the commercial broadcaster POP TV, while Šarec overtook President Borut Pahor as the most popular politician. The poll, conducted by Mediana and released by POP TV on Sunday, shows 57% of those questioned supporting the government, up 3.1 percentage points on the month before; 11.4% are undecided and 31.5% oppose it. The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) continues to lead the field among parliamentary parties at 19.2%, up 2.6 percentage points, ahead of the opposition Democrats (SDS) at 18.2%, up 3.2 points.

Ex-education officials indicted in Armenian healer case

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that former State Secretary at the Education Ministry Andreja Barle Lakota was among the ten people who have been indicted for alleged abuse of office in a case involving Armenian healer Ruben Papian. He was allegedly paid tens of thousands of euro between 2009 and 2011 by three Slovenian education institutions for two studies allegedly written by Barle Lakota. The paper said that those charged included Mojca Štravs, the former director of the Educational Research Institute, and Andrej Koren, the former head of the National School for Leadership in Education.

Slovenia drops a spot in Global Innovation Index

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia slipped one spot to rank 31st among 129 countries in the 2019 Global Innovation Index, released by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and business school INSEAD. Switzerland continues in the lead as the world's most innovative country, ahead of Sweden, the US, Netherlands, UK, Finland, Denmark, Singapore, Germany and Israel. Slovenia placed a spot after Italy and one ahead of Portugal. Among the neighbouring countries, Austria ranks 21st, Hungary 33rd and Croatia 44th.

Božič hosts Italian Foreign Affairs Committee chair

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dobran Božič hosted Marta Grande, the chair of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, to discuss minority issues, the Western Balkans and Slovenia's measures in the protection of the Schengen border. Grande was accompanied for the talks by Italian Ambassador Paolo Trichilo and committee members Filippo Giuseppe Perconti and Francesca Piazza, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said.

Disciplinary procedure launched against army trade unionist

LJUBLJANA - Chief of the General Staff Alenka Ermenc has launched a disciplinary procedure against the head of the Trade Union of Soldiers (SVS), Gvido Novak, over his unionist activities, the SVS said in a press release. According to Maj-Gen Ermenc, who accuses Novak of severe violations of army discipline, there is ground to suspect that Novak made statements between 12 April and 7 May that harmed or could harm the interests of his employer. During that time, the controversial dismissal of the army's force commander, Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc, unfolded at Ermenc's request. The General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces said the procedure had been launched due to Novak's actions as a member of the armed forces and not as trade unionist.

Financial Administration taking on taxdodging crypto miners and traders

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Financial Administration told the STA that serious efforts had been under way to detect and sanction individuals engaged in regular crypto currency mining or trading while failing to pay taxes. It highlighted the example of a miner who had to pay EUR 100,000 in taxes after his undeclared activity was discovered. Furs responded last year to the soaring values of popular cryptocurrencies by issuing warnings that regular crypto mining and trading can amount to a work activity that needs to registered and is subject to taxation.

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29 Jul 2019, 02:07 AM

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Ambassador Knez regrets lack of trust between Slovenia and Croatia

ZAGREB, Croatia - Smiljana Knez, who is wrapping up her term as Slovenia's ambassador to Croatia to become an aide to President Borut Pahor, told the STA in a valedictory interview that a lack of trust was the biggest obstacle preventing relations between two countries to thrive. Knez is happy with her record in office because the embassy "has in fact done a lot" considering the state of bilateral political relations. Bilateral trade has increased during her term, but she believes mutual trust is needed to tackle the unresolved issues, including how to implement the border arbitration award.

Taxman to help offset loss of revenue from lower labour tax

LJUBLJANA - After the government proposed a series of tax tweaks aimed at reducing labour taxation, coupled with higher taxes on capital, which would partly offset the loss of revenue, the Finance Ministry now revealed that the missing amount would be secured through more effective tax collection. The Financial Administration is to produce an extra EUR 160 million through a proactive approach that would make tax collection more effective and crack down on tax evasion, while raising tax literacy.

Maribor competes in Climate City Cup

MARIBOR - Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, has joined the first Climate City Cup, a global competition in which cities and their residents compete in making positive change against climate change. Running between 18 July and 18 November, the competition involves entrants such as Vienna, Singapore, Geneva and New Delhi. They compete in emissions, mobility, energy consumption, sustainability and circularity. The winners will be declared at the UN climate conference in Chile in December.

Koper port has welcomed 55,000 passengers this year

KOPER - The passenger terminal at Koper, Slovenia's sole maritime port, welcomed 55,000 cruise line passengers by Friday this year with more than 109,000 expected to arrive at the port by the end of the season. By the end of the season 71 cruise liner arrivals are expected with a total of more than 106,000 passengers on board, so the port may even trump the boom year of 2010, when it welcomed more than 109,000 passengers on board of 78 ships, the city authorities told the STA.

Nova Gorica to get bike-sharing network in 2020

NOVA GORICA - After a number of Slovenian cities successfully launched bike-sharing networks, Nova Gorica is the latest to join the sustainable bike-sharing trend. The local authorities and development agency are planning to launch the city's bike-sharing network Go-kolo by March 2020. The network will initially include 28 standard bikes and 13 e-bikes located at eight stations. The Go-kolo network is later to be expanded to the neighbouring Šempeter-Vrtojba municipality.

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28 Jul 2019, 02:35 AM

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Židan says Russian Chapel more than a place of reverence

VRŠIČ - National Assembly Speaker Dejan Židan addressed the annual ceremony at the Russian Chapel below the Vršič mountain pass, saying that the chapel had become more than a place of reverence and a symbol of the deep friendship between the Slovenian and Russian nations. "It has become a part of our moral and civilisational commitment to ensure peaceful and safe life to this and future generations," Židan said at the event honouring Russian POWs killed by an avalanche while building a road during First World War. More than a thousand people gathered at the event organised by the Slovenia-Russia Association, including senior officials from Russia and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec.

Bulc takes stock of outgoing term in an interview for STA

BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc took stock of her outgoing term in an interview for the STA, noting that the EU was fist to start discussing the vision of zero transport emissions by 2050, She is also very proud of the transport agreement with the Western Balkans, labelling it the biggest achievement in the relations with the region. The Slovenian member of the European Commission has dealt with a number of important topics, with the Germanwings air disaster and the Dieselgate scandal marking the start of her five-year term. The key priorities of her term were zero casualties on the European roads and zero emissions from transport by 2050.

Value of construction works up 29% last year

LJUBLJANA - The value of construction works in Slovenia carried out last year amounted to EUR 2.57 billion, which is 29% more than in the year before, the Statistics Office has reported. It was the second time in a row that the value increased on the annual basis, and it was also 1% above the amount from 2010. The works that construction companies carried out on buildings last year are valued at EUR 1.35 billion, which is 35% more than in 2017. The value of works on engineering structures was meanwhile up by 23% to EUR 1.22 billion.

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27 Jul 2019, 02:39 AM

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Govt officially confirms Lenarčič as EU commissioner candidate

LJUBLJANA - The government officially confirmed Slovenia's ambassador to the EU Janez Lenarčič as the country's candidate for European commissioner, after taking note of the positive opinion of the parliamentary EU Affairs Committee. The government has already send the proposal for Lenarčič's appointment to Brussels, which the European Commission is expected to receive on Monday, the government has confirmed for the STA. The official confirmation comes after Lenarčič, a career diplomat, was endorsed by the committee, with the vote, not binding on the government, being eight in favour and two against.

Kerosene train derailment caused by broken rail switch

LJUBLJANA - Preliminary findings show that the freight train derailment that led to a massive kerosene spill near Hrastovlje on 25 June was caused by a broken or cracked rail switch. The Infrastructure Ministry's rail accidents investigator Daniel Lenart said an investigation into why the rail switch broke would be conducted by an independent institute specialising in metals. He said there could be many reasons for the broken switch, ranging from faulty material to hidden track defects.

Gorenje group with a EUR 29.4m net loss in H1

LJUBLJANA - The household appliances group Gorenje generated EUR 567.5 million in revenue in the first six months of the year, up 1.6% on the same period in 2018. However, its net loss in the first half of the year amounted to EUR 29.5 million, Gorenje announced. Out of the EUR 567.5 million total sales revenue in the first six months, the principal activity accounted for EUR 523.4 million or 92.2%. Sales of household appliance were up by 1.5% and growth was particularly pronounced in East European markets (Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic).

Slovenian House to open in Brussels to promote the country

LJUBLJANA - The government announced it will establish a Slovenian House in Brussels in September, which will take care of general promotion of the country. It is expected to become fully operational at least at the end of next June, with its activity peaking during Slovenia's presidency of the EU in the second part of 2021. The Slovenian House will be established as a unit of the Slovenian Embassy in Brussels. Its main purpose will be promoting Slovenian art, innovation, economic competitiveness, science, sport, tourism, cuisine and wines.

Janša does not see Lenarčič as EU commissioner material

LJUBLJANA - Janez Janša, the head of the opposition Democrats (SDS), commented for Radio Ognjišče on the government's pick for Slovenia's EU commissioner, Janez Lenarčič, saying that the country's ambassador to the EU was not a "commissioner material". In the interview for the Catholic radio station, the president of the largest parliamentary party assessed that Prime Minister Marjan Šarec was looking for a person who would not strengthen one of the coalition parties, while not representing competition on the domestic political scene. Janša reiterated that Slovenia would need Lenarčič more at home as an operative during the country's upcoming EU presidency.

Ombudsman calls on state to hire more prison guards

LJUBLJANA - Following recent attacks on prison guards in the Dob prison, Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina called on the state to respect the staffing standards and norms for prisons, noting that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman had been pointing to the insufficient number of prison guards for quite a while. Responding to reports about separate attacks on two prison guards at Slovenia's largest prison on Wednesday, Svetina said that his office had been stressing in its recent annual the issues of the prison system, especially when it comes to prison guards.

Steklarna Hrastnik boosts half-year profit

HRASTNIK - Glass maker Steklarna Hrastnik posted EUR 33 million in revenue for the first half of 2019, a 11% year-on-year increase, and a net profit of EUR 5.9 million, a 54% improvement. The company told the STA that its glass packaging division had been the main driving force behind the successful results, with revenue in this segment up 35% compared to the same period last year. The company plans to invest EUR 24.6 million into an expansion of the segment this year.

Slovenia criticised over posting of workers

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's model of temporary posting of workers to other EU countries has been subject to sharp criticism about exportation of cheap labour. The country has seen an exponential growth in such postings over the past ten years and is reportedly third in the EU by the number of posted workers. Apart from the growth another problem is that employers pay social contributions corresponding to what would be the workers' pay in Slovenia rather than their actual pay, which is higher. Plans are now under way to reform the regulations.

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26 Jul 2019, 02:03 AM

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Commissioner candidate Lenarčič endorsed at committee

LJUBLJANA - Janez Lenarčič, Slovenia's candidate for EU commissioner, was endorsed by the EU Affairs Committee in an 8:2 vote with several abstentions. Slovenia's current ambassador to the EU told the committee that he would strive for equal treatment of citizens from all members states, consistent observance of EU law, and strengthening of the rule of law. The government is expected to take note of the committee's opinion tomorrow, when it formally nominates him for the post.

Five bids submitted for Karavanke tunnel, Cengiz cheapest again

LJUBLJANA - DARS, the national motorway company, has received five fresh bids in what is the latest chapter in the construction of Slovenia's half of the second 8km tube of the Karavanke tunnel to Austria. Turkish builder Cengiz, already picked in a procedure last year that was subsequently quashed, is the cheapest bidder again. Cengiz, which had promised to execute the project for EUR 89.3 million in 2018, now issued a bid worth EUR 99.6 million, DARS announced after opening the bids, which will now be examined in detail.

Constitutional Court clears use of drones by police

LJUBLJANA - After annulling legislative amendments that allow the police to use equipment for automatic license plate recognition, the Constitutional Court has now cleared provisions that allow them to use drones. The use of drones and systems for automatic license plate recognition were introduced into law through amendments to the police tasks and powers act, passed by parliament in February 2017. These and some other changes, including those on collection of air passenger data, have been challenged by Human Rights Ombudsman at the Constitutional Court on grounds of invasion of privacy.

Slovenian MEPs welcome EU pressure on Austria over child benefits

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Two Slovenian members of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee welcomed the EU Commission decision to continue infringement proceedings over Austrian child benefits as a sign that discrimination will not be allowed. "This is welcome news for our commuters," Romana Tomc (SDS/EPP) said. Milan Brglez (SD/S&D) said the EU may not allow discrimination, in particular when children are the ones being discriminated.

Business sentiment in Slovenia improves with summer

LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia improved with the summer, with the relevant index increasing by 1.4 percentage points in July compared to June, mostly due to more optimism in the manufacturing sector, the Statistics Office reported. The sub-index measuring business sentiment in manufacturing was up by 1.4 percentage points at the monthly level, while other sub-indices had no major influence.

Reports on attempts to limit access to Maribor airport corrected

MARIBOR - Media reports that the Chinese owners of airport operator Aerodrom Maribor, who are terminating the 15-year lease agreement it signed in 2017, are trying to limit access to the airport by putting up no trespassing signs seem to have been exaggerated. "There are no problems for now. We all park normally and drive normally across these land plots," said Smiljan Kramberger of DRI, the state-owned consulting and engineering company which took over the management of the airport from Chinese-backed SHS Aviation in June. Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek visited the airport today to confirm that the easement had been settled.

Gorenjska Banka doubles half-year profit

KRANJ - Gorenjska Banka, the Kranj-based bank now in sole ownership of Serbian AIK Banka, nearly doubled net profit in the first half of the year compared to year before, to EUR 22 million. The bank's total assets increased by 2.2% compared to the end of 2018 to EUR 1.872 billion on 30 June, which the bank attributes mainly to growth in retail deposits, capital and lending. The bank reported that the proportion of bad loans decreased by 26%. As of 30 June, gross credits amounted to EUR 1.1 billion with the capital adequacy ratio at 15.1%.

Human smugglers filling Slovenian prisons

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has been seeing a spike in illegal migration in recent months, but while most of the migrants are being returned to Croatia, the smugglers who helped them across the border are filling up Slovenian prisons. A report by the rtvslo.si cites official data showing that foreigners account for nearly a quarter of Slovenia's prison population. Half of them, 176, have been incarcerated for smuggling migrants.

Maribor win first leg of Champions League qualifier with AIK

MARIBOR - Slovenian football champions Maribor opened the second round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League against AIK Stockholm with a 2:1 win at home on Wednesday evening. The team is happy with the win, but is aware that the away goal scored by the Swedish side will make the return leg next week very difficult. Maribor head coach Darko Milanič said the opponent was very difficult, "perhaps even too good for this stage of competition", which is why he expects a tough return leg on 31 July. The winner of the encounter will play in the next round of qualifying against the winner of the matchup between BATE Borisov of Belarus and Rosenborg of Norway.

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25 Jul 2019, 02:49 AM

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Telekom's H1 net profit up 35% on lower sales

LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije posted a net profit of EUR 19.6 million for the first half of the year, an increase of 35%, even as sales revenue declined 5% to EUR 340.6 million. Group profit before income tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 11% to EUR 112.3 million and pre-tax profit (EBIT) surged 41% to EUR 23.8 million. The company said sales revenue was down due to the sale of Blicnet, which was completed in the second half of the year, and lower revenue from fixed segment of the end-user market.

Počivalšek gets support from upper echelons to lead SMC

SEVNICA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek is tipped as the most plausible candidate to succeed Miro Cerar as the leader of the Modern Centre Party (SMC). He is yet to take a final decision on whether to bid for the post at the October congress, but he has already been endorsed by the party's top echelons. Visiting the town of Sevnica, Počivalšek said that he had been endorsed to bid by the party's ten MPs and executive committee. "I'm happy and honoured that they see me as a uniting figure," he said.

Jourova urges Slovenia to translate GDPR into law

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia, Greece and Portugal, the only EU countries that have not yet transposed EU-wide data protection rules, were urged to take action urgently by European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova. Just over a year after the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) started being applied, the European Commission released a report today looking at the impact of the rules, and how implementation can be improved further. The report finds that most of the countries have done their job in transposing the rules, but that Greece, Portugal and Slovenia are still lagging behind.

Slovenia offers condolences over Croatian soldier's death

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec sent condolences to their Croatian counterparts after a Croatian soldier serving in Afghanistan was killed in a suicide attack by the Taliban. Pahor, who sent his condolences to Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, and Erjavec, in a letter to Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, also wished speedy recovery to the two Croatian soldiers who were seriously injured in the attack on their convoy outside the Afghan capital of Kabul today.

US carrier reportedly eyeing Adria Airways

LJUBLJANA - US regional carrier Mesa Airlines is reportedly interested in acquiring struggling Slovenian airline Adria Airways. The company has been going through Adria's books for almost two weeks and is expected to reach a decision by the end of the summer, the news portal 24ur.com reported late on Tuesday, quoting "unofficial but reliable sources". Siol.net later reported that the US carrier had been checking Adria for a short period of time, but decided it was not interested in the transaction.

Stilles's development investment gets minister's support

SEVNICA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek promised the government's support for the Stilles furniture maker's investment plan as he visited the company based in Sevnica in eastern Slovenia. The manufacturer plans to invest EUR 4.5 million in producing semi-finished products out of new materials. Stilles would like to expand its production, which relies heavily on hotel interior design of higher quality, and reduce its dependence on a single type of clients, that is, hotels. During his visit, Počivalšek explained that the Economy Ministry could come up with strategies for supporting the investment based on the promotion of balanced regional development act.

Slovenia and Austria first in EU to exchange social security data

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia and Austria are the first EU countries to start exchanging social security data as part of the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI) system, which provides European social security institutions with comprehensive electronic exchanges and speeds up procedures. Slovenia's ZZZS health insurance institute and the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Institutions have been cooperating in setting up the electronic exchange since the beginning of 2018. The EESSI project aims to speed up and simplify administrative procedures, and enhance data protection.

Burgenland governor holds a series of meetings in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Hans Peter Doskozil, the governor of the Austrian state of Burgenland, discussed the future of cross-border cooperation projects as he met Minister of Development and European Cohesion Policy Iztok Purič on the second day of his two-day visit to Slovenia. The governor also met Justice Minister Andreja Katič with the pair noting good and efficient cooperation in justice affairs between Slovenia and Austria. The governor also met state secretaries at the ministries of health and culture.

Businessman Racman reportedly main suspect in Nova Gorica prostitution case

LJUBLJANA - The Specialised State Prosecution has has filed an indictment against 18 persons in connection with a prostitution ring that was operating near Nova Gorica and was cracked by police in January. The prime suspect is said to be businessmen Sergej Racman, the former owner of the cinema chain operator Kolosej. The indictment comes after the National Bureau of Investigation completed a four-year investigation into prostitution, human trafficking and drug abuse in the areas of Nova Gorica and Maribor.

Verdicts final in Balkan Warrior trial, sentences reduced slightly

LJUBLJANA - In what makes for a final verdict in the Balkan Warrior drug trafficking trial, the Ljubljana Higher Court has reportedly reduced the sentences of some of the defendants, including for chief defendant Dragan Tošić, who is looking at 15 instead on 16 years and a half behind bars. Deliberating on appeals filed by attorneys of what were 13 defendants found guilty after a retrial in March 2018, the Higher Court found 11 of the defendants guilty again, but only of drug trafficking and not also of racketeering, the newspaper Primorske Novice reported.

SNG Maribor Ballet sells out Clug's Peer Gynt at Bolshoi

MOSCOW, Russia - Slovenia's SNG Maribor Ballet is making headlines in Moscow, having sold out both of its Bolshoi Theatre performances of Peer Gynt, a contemporary ballet as conceived by the ensemble's star choreographer Edward Clug. "This is a major recognition for our culture and an exceptional achievement of Slovenian ballet," Clug commented on the SNG Maribor's successful show making it to the Bolshoi and selling out both guest appearances.

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24 Jul 2019, 02:18 AM

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Russian Chapel ceremony to focus on post-WWI time

LJUBLJANA - This year, the memorial ceremony at the Russian Chapel under the Vršič Pass, which honours Russian POWs killed during First World War, will focus on the post-war period. Several thousand people are expected to turn out for the event on Saturday, including senior officials of the Russian government and Orthodox Church. The ceremony will be addressed by parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan and Ljubljana University Chancellor Igor Papič. It was Russian immigrants who helped establish the university 100 years ago.

Top court issues injunction against IMSI catchers

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court ordered an injunction against a legislative provision that allows police to use IMSI catchers, devices that mimic mobile phone towers to intercept mobile traffic. The provision will be stayed until the court has deliberated on a petition in which the opposition Democratic Party (SDS) and Left challenge several contentious provisions in the amendments to the criminal procedure act passed in March on the grounds of invasion of privacy.

Two more ambassadors appointed

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor formally appointed two more new ambassadors last Friday. Lea Stančič will take over as ambassador to Romania and Peter Japelj as ambassador to Albania. Stančič has so far served as ambassador to Albania. Japelj currently heads the department in charge of Slovenia's policy on issues pertaining to the work of EU institutions and bodies.

Židan and Burgenland governor stress importance of cohesion policy

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan received the governor of the Austrian state of Burgenland Hans Peter Doskozil in Ljubljana. Doskozil, who also met President Borut Pahor, and Židan discussed developments in the Slovenian parliament, social policy and in particular European cohesion policy, which they said is key for reducing development gaps between different regions and securing general prosperity. Doskozil, who started a two-day visit, is also scheduled to meet Development and European Cohesion Policy Minister Iztok Purič and Justice Minister Andreja Katič.

Work on Koper pier extension to start soon

KOPER - Work on the extension of Pier 1 at Koper, Slovenia's only seaport, will start on Thursday, with the EU-co-funded project slated completion in 2021. Port operator Luka Koper said the EUR 235 million investment would secure further development and increase the port's international competitiveness. Pier 1, which supports container terminals, will be extended by 98.5 metres in length and 34.4 metres in width, extending the southern side of the pier to 695 metres.

Consumer confidence deteriorates again

LJUBLJANA - After rising in the previous month following a negative streak, the consumer confidence index was down again in July, dropping by one percentage point on the month before and standing three points below the value in July 2018. However, the value was still 14 percentage points above the long-term average, the Statistics Office reported. The monthly decline was due to the more pessimistic expectations about savings and the households' finances.

SKB assembly fills management board

LJUBLJANA - The assembly of Societe Generale-owned SKB Banka, which is in the process of being sold to the Hungarian OTP Bank Group, filled vacancies on the nine-member management board by appointing two new members. The assembly appointed Milan Žiaran the SKB's new CEO and Manica Novak a board member to have In line with a counter proposal, tabled today by Societe Generale, the management board will change after the bank's sale - the board members will be Zsolt Barna, Imre Bertalan, Anna Florova Mitkova, Branko Miksa, Draga Cukjati and Anita Stojčevska, with Ravbar, Žiaran and Novak keeping their seats.

Okarina festival gets under way in Bled

LJUBLJANA - Great names of jazz and world music will perform admission-free concerts against what is arguably the most picturesque backdrop in Slovenia at he annual Okarina festival in Bled. Held for 29th year running, the festival got under way at Bled Castle with a concert by Vigüela, the Spanish ensemble performing authentic rural music from the Castilla-La Mancha province. After the first two concerts, the festival will move to the promenade by the lake until 3 August. See the schedule and videos of performers here

Živadinov set to complete 50-year "postgravity art" project

LJUBLJANA - Plans by Slovenian "postgravitational artist" Dragan Živadinov and his team to conclude an ongoing 50-year performance by replacing its deceased actors with artistic satellites are entering the test stage. Živadinov told the press that the first umbot satellite would be set into the orbit by 2021 at the latest. Drawing on high-tech, Suprematism and Constructivism, the evolving performance Noordung 1995-2045, is named after Slovenian space science pioneer Herman Potočnik Noordung (1892-1929).

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