Ljubljana related

13 Jun 2019, 02:54 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia makes case for ECHR admitting lawsuit against Croatia over LB bank

STRASBOURG, France - The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held an oral hearing in Slovenia's case against Croatia over Croatian companies' debt to the defunct bank Ljubljanska Banka (LB). Slovenia, whose claim to just satisfaction amounts to EUR 429.5 million, presented the lawsuit as substantiated and admissible, arguing Croatia violated the European Convention on Human Rights by systematically preventing LB from recovering debts incurred by Croatian companies in the 1990s. Ana Polak Petrič, Slovenia's high representative for succession, said the Convention "guarantees rights to all natural and legal persons", including state-owned.

EU Court to hear Slovenia's case against Croatia on 8 July

LJUBLJANA - The EU Court of Justice scheduled an oral hearing for 8 July in a case that Slovenia had brought against Croatia due to its failure to implement the award of the border arbitration tribunal. Slovenia alleges that Croatia is breaching several provisions of EU treaties and regulations by refusing to implement the final award of an arbitration tribunal that the two countries appointed to resolve their long-standing border dispute.

Central bank slightly downgrades GDP growth forecast for 2019

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's central bank forecasts that the economy will expand by 3.2% this year, a slight downgrade from the 3.4% growth rate it projected in December. In 2020 and 2021 GDP is expected to grow by 2.9%. "The more moderate GDP growth will be the consequence slightly lower growth of foreign demand and the gradual transition to a more mature period of the economic cycle," the central bank said, adding that downside risks were now "more pronounced" due to non-domestic factors.

Fiscal Council: Time for structural measures running out

LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council called on the government to adopt measures to ensure sustainability of public finances in the long term, warning that the growing risks related to negative demographic trends mean the time for taking the needed measures is running out. In its assessment of compliance of the general government budget implementation with fiscal rules in 2018, the body noted that even now, at a time of growth, transfers from the national budget to the pension fund amount to about 2% of GDP. Unless measures are taken to secure long-term sustainability, this will have much bigger impact on public finances than the failure to comply with the fiscal rule in a single year.

Bratušek meets Chinese counterpart in Beijing

BEIJING, China - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek met Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng on the final day of her visit to China to talk about Slovenia's geostrategic advantages in light of China's plans to upgrade links to Europe. According to a press release from the Infrastructure Ministry, Bratušek also met the management of Cosco, one of the world's biggest shipping companies which has stakes in several European ports, including a 100% stake in the container terminal of the Piraeus port in Greece, and is also a major partner for Slovenia's sole maritime port, Koper. Bratušek put in her word for boosting that cooperation, and presented plans to build a second track connecting the port inland.

Cerar urges EU enlargement at CEI ministerial

TRIESTE, Italy - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar urged for the EU to launch accession talks with the candidate countries which have met EU membership conditions, as he addressed a ministerial meeting of the Central European Initiative (CEI). He also highlighted the role of regional cooperation as the right way to strengthen trust among EU members and EU aspirants at a time of changed geopolitical conditions. The CEI, which has 17 members, should focus on EU states passing their experience on to the countries which have started accession talks or are still waiting to do so, Cerar said.

Slovenia remains committed to Iran nuclear deal

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Simona Leskovar reiterated Slovenia continues to support the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and regrets the US's withdrawal. Talking at a session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, she also called on Iran to continue honouring the deal. "We call on all sides to refrain from moves and rhetoric that could lead to more tensions and deterioration of the security situation," she said as she answered an MP's question about the fate of the deal.

Čeferin says human rights law should be adjusted to social changes

LJUBLJANA - Human rights law should be adjusted to social changes, or else it loses touch with reality and becomes an inefficient tool to address social issues, Rok Čeferin, the nominee for a Constitutional Court judge, said as he presented his bid at the Presidential Palace. This is why protecting human rights amid fast digital technology development will be one of the Court's future challenges. Responding to criticism he advocates exaggerated restrictions to freedom of expression, Čeferin labelled this freedom a key human right and a fundamental prerequisite for democracy, but added that inciting intolerance towards underprivileged groups can be dangerous. Parliament is expected to vote on Čeferin's appointment this month.

Climate Mirror: Slovenia on track to meet 2020 climate target

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2.8% in 2017 and is likely to achieve the 2020 emission reduction target set by the EU 2020 climate and energy package, shows the latest Climate Mirror report. The central national document monitoring climate crisis action, presented by the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) in cooperation with the Environment Ministry, highlights high transport emission levels as the biggest outstanding issue - transport emission levels are the highest and should not increase any further, with immediate action necessary.

Coalition, NSi would like to put off uniform cigarette packages

LJUBLJANA - The coalition parties and two MPs of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) have proposed putting off obligatory standardised packaging for tobacco products until 2023. Under the current law, the uniform packaging would be introduced in 2020. The group of 38 MPs - six short of an absolute majority - find uniform packaging a too extreme measure that would cut revenue from excise duties and boost the sale of tobacco products on the black market. NGOs as well as the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) immediately protested the move, describing the uniform packages as one of the most cost-efficient measures to reduce the burden of chronic non-contagious diseases.

PM meets archbishop meets, announces trip to the Vatican

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore paid a visit to Prime Minister Marjan Šarec to discuss relations between the Roman Catholic Church in Slovenia and the government, foremost open issues and future cooperation. The Church expects the government to reach new agreements with the Holy See and not to deteriorate the status of children in private schools, Zore told Šarec. Šarec, on the other hand, presented to Zore the political situation in the country and his view on reconciliation regarding post-WWII divisions and summary killings. The visit was a part of preparation for Šarec's visit to the Holy See on 27 June, where he is expected to meet Pope Francis.

Ministry confirms Environment Agency decision on Petišovci gas

LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning has confirmed the decision of the Environment Agency on the controversial gas extraction project in Petišovci (NE), thus rejecting an appeal by UK investor Ascent Resources. In line with the decision, a separate permit procedure will be needed for hydraulic fracturing. The agency granted the investor the permit for a planned gas processing plant but demanded a separate environmental impact assessment to determine whether the UK company can step up extraction via hydraulic fracturing, which is crucial for the refinery that would be allowed to process 280,000 cubic metres of natural gas and a tonne of oil per day.

Industry facing new challenges

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Slovenian businesses debated challenges ahead for industry as the government seeks inputs for how to frame an industrial policy. Innovations and improving uptake of digital technology were highlighted as major challenges. Statistical data indicates the industrial sector employs over 200,000 people in Slovenia, almost a quarter of the workforce, and accounts for half of Slovenian exports. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said it was because of industry and associated services that Slovenia's economy expanded at a rate of 4.5% last year, but he also stressed that it had to adapt by digitising and deploying robots more widely.

Parliamentary inquiry initiated into prosecution of ex-Maribor mayor

LJUBLJANA - The upper chamber of parliament voted unanimously to initiate a parliamentary inquiry into political responsibility for what it sees as targeted prosecution of Franc Kangler, the former Maribor mayor who now serves as a member of the National Council. The National Assembly, the lower chamber, will now need to launch the inquiry. Kangler faced a series of allegations of wrongdoing while serving as Maribor mayor between 2006 and December 2012. He was forced out of office half-way into his second term amid mass protests.

Govt adopts bill to reduce bear and wolf population

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an emergency bill ordering the culling of overgrown bear and wolf populations. The move comes after a decree with the same order was successfully challenged by an environmental NGO in Administrative Court, leading to a steep increase in wolf and bear attacks on farm animals this year. The bill stipulates the "removal" of 200 bears, of which 175 are to be culled, while the rest is expected to perish naturally or in car accidents or other incidents. Moreover, 11 wolves are to be culled.

New Slovenian consulate opens its doors in Greece

THESSALONIKI, Greece - Slovenia officially opened a consulate in Thessaloniki on Tuesday, the first Slovenian consulate in Greece that has jurisdiction over the entire north of the country. The opening ceremony was also attended by David Brozina, the director general for EU affairs at the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, and Slovenian Ambassador to Greece Anita Pipan. Pipan handed over the exequatur to Honorary Consul Nikolaos Takas, saying that she believed his efforts would significantly contribute to strengthening economic cooperation between the countries.

Massive hail causes damage in south Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Storms with massive hail the size of oranges hit parts of south Slovenia late on Tuesday afternoon, damaging dozens of houses. Almost 90 local firefighting brigades were deployed to help locals. The National Emergency Centre reported significant hail damage in the municipalities Kočevje and Črnomelj. About 130 buildings were affected in Kočevje municipality where the large hail crushed roof tiles. The hailstorms come almost exactly a year after the region suffered massive hail damage, but preliminary estimates suggest the damage is not as bad as it was last year.

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12 Jun 2019, 02:40 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Left wants Abanka privatisation suspended

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left urged the government to scrap the privatisation of Abanka, Slovenia's third-largest bank, just weeks before an EU-imposed deadline for privatisation. It also wants the government to renegotiate privatisation commitments with the European Commission, designate Abanka a strategic asset, and examine the possibility of suing the Commission at the EU Court for pressuring the government into privatising the three banks bailed out in 2013. Coalition parties said they were mostly in favour of somehow suspending the privatisation of Abanka, although opinions differ.

Contractor picked for Ljubljana airport terminal extension

LJUBLJANA- Fraport Slovenija, the operator of Ljubljana airport, has selected the companies GIC Gradnje and Elcom to extend the existing passenger terminal in a repeat call for bids after the National Review Commission introduced a new practice in tenders. According to Monday's announcement, the two companies had submitted the lowest bid in the repeated tender and the decision to select them had been made only recently, although GIC Gradnje already said unofficially in April they had been selected.

Local initiatives call on Pahor to discuss migration issue

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of three civil initiatives from areas bordering on Croatia and Italy and facing an influx of illegal migrants asked President Borut Pahor to call a meeting on the migration issue. The debate should feature representatives of the deputy groups, mayors of border municipalities, civil initiatives and the interested public. Addressing a letter to Pahor, the civil initiatives from Ilirska Bistrica and Črnomelj near the border with Croatia, and from Škofije near the border with Italy said that the locals' rights were being violated.

Cerar opens consulate's new premises, meets Fedriga, minority

TRIESTE, Italy - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and Massimiliano Fedriga, head of the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, opened new premises of the Slovenian Consulate General as Cerar began a two-day visit to Trieste. He also held a bilateral meeting with Fedriga and met representatives of the Slovenian minority in Italy. Cerar welcomed Fedriga's efforts to find a solution for the minority to get a representative in Italy's lower and upper chambers of parliament, a provision set down in the law governing Slovenian minority rights, and expressed the expectation Italy would return the National Home in Trieste to the Slovenian minority.

Professional public shocked following thumbs down for Slovenian judge

MARIBOR/LJUBLJANA - The professional public in Slovenia is shocked after the country's candidate for the EU's General Court failed to get endorsed by the court's advisory panel. However, such rejections are not rare. Maritime law professor Marko Pavliha is the first Slovenian to be interviewed by the panel, but he is far from being the first candidate whose bid was rejected as unsuitable, Janja Hojnik, an expert on EU law, told the STA. Hojnik, a lecturer at the Maribor Faculty of Law, said the panel had turned down one out of seven candidates over the past five years, including those from Italy, Sweden and Malta, and four from Slovakia.

Slovenian PM attends ILO centenary celebrations

GENEVA, Switzerland - PM Marjan Šarec reaffirmed the Slovenian government's "sincere and firm commitment to the ILO's principles, values and mission" as he addressed an event marking the centenary of the ILO. The anniversary was marked as part of the 108th session of the International Labour Conference, which is dedicated to the future of labour and should result in an ILO Centenary Declaration. Slovenia advocates an ambitious declaration to reaffirm the ILO's mandate and clearly define its future role. Šarec met ILO head Guy Ryder, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and visited CERN.

Conference underlines EU commission's call for reforms

LJUBLJANA - A call for health, pension, long-term care and labour market reforms along with a consolidation of public finances echoed at a conference the latest recommendations issued to Slovenia by the European Commission. Maarten Verwey, head of the Commission's Structural Reform Support Service, said Slovenia had had mixed succeess in recent years as regards the adoption of reforms that would secure long-term financial stability. The event was hosted by the STA and the European Commission Representation in Slovenia, bringing together government and Commission officials as well as social partners.

Employment prospects remain robust

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian companies have strong demand for labour, with forecasts for the third quarter of the year suggesting that a fifth of employers plan to hire, 77% expect no change and only 2% project layoffs, according to the latest employment forecast by temping agency Manpower. This makes for a seasonally-adjusted net employment forecast of 20%, up 11 percentage points over the previous quarter and one of the strongest growth rates in the world.

Govt drafts bill to contain bear and wolf populations

LJUBLJANA - In an effort to bypass environmentalists' campaign against the culling of bears and wolves, the Agriculture Ministry drafted an emergency bill targetting 200 bears and eleven wolves, following protests by farmers whose herds had been decimated. The draft legislation echoes the ministry's initial plans for the management of big carnivore population in Slovenia for this year, which were presented last November. The government is expected to adopt in at Wednesday's correspondence session.

Jesenice hospital closes department due to shortage of nurses

JESENICE - A shortage of nurses has prompted the Jesenice General Hospital to close part of its internal medicine department, with 17 beds left unoccupied. The closure comes after the Oncology Institute, the country's main cancer treatment hospital, opted for the same measure due to the same reason last month. All clinical departments in Slovenia have witnessed a trend of nurses leaving for less demanding but similarly paid jobs in healthcare over the past two years. Many have also left the healthcare system for jobs in more lucrative sectors of the economy, Janez Poklukar, the hospital's director, said, urging a systemic solution.

Literary historian Janko Kos gets Golden Order of Merit

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor decorated literary historian and critic Janko Kos, 88, with the Golden Order of Merit for his exceptional oeuvre and outstanding lifetime achievements in comparative literature. Kos, who is also a literary theoretician, publicist and editor, received the accolade as one of the founders of comparative literature in Slovenia, the president's office said.

IJS scientists with major discovery in electrical conductivity

LJUBLJANA - Researchers of the Slovenian Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) are the first to confirm in an experiment the existence of the Kondo effect in an electrical insulator, establishing that conduction electrons are not a key condition for such an effect, as believed so far. The discovery, made in an accelerator at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, was recently reported on in the monthly scientific journal Nature Physics.

Duncan Haldane, Ronald Šega join Slovenian engineers' academy

BRDO PRI KRANJU - The Slovenian Academy of Engineering (IAS) met at Brdo pri Kranju on Monday to formally admit newly-elected members, ten domestic experts and eleven from abroad, including Nobel laureate Duncan Haldane of Scottish-Slovenian descent and US astronaut Ronald Šega of Slovenian descent. President Borut Pahor, the honorary sponsor of the event, noted that one of the IAS's priorities was "consolidation of our industrial identity".

German boy dies in freak accident during holidays in Slovenia

BOVEC - A German teenager died in an accident at a school holiday camp near the Soča village in north-western Slovenia on Monday afternoon. He died as a rock rolled off a hill and crushed him against a nearby tree. According to a press release from the Nova Gorica Police Department, the 12-year-old boy was attending a nature school camp organised by a German alpine organisation.

Poets, critics and translators join forces for Pranger festival

LJUBLJANA - Martina Potisk was declared the winner of this year's Stritar Prize for up-and-coming literary critics, as the 16th Pranger festival of poetry, literary criticism and translation got under way in Ljubljana, to be held also in Rogaška Slatina and Šmarje pri Jelšah. The festival, running until 16 June, will see three panels dedicated to literary criticism. Barbara Korun, Domen Slovinič and Aljaž Koprivnikar will be featured as critics, each having picked three poets with new collections to jointly reflect on their work.

Imago Sloveniae and Summer in Old Ljubljana festivals open

LJUBLJANA - The annual international music festivals Imago Sloveniae and the Summer in Old Ljubljana kicked off with a concert celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Ljubljana-based Forum of Slavic Cultures, which connects Slavic nations in culture, arts, education and science. Under the title Slavic Rhapsody, the concert will present Slavic folk music and its echoes in music by featuring segments of operas, symphonic and choir music by composers such as Antonin Dvorak, Bedrich Smetana, Marjan Kozina, Stevan Mokranjac, Jakov Gotovac and Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin.

Slovenia demolish Latvia 5:0 for first Euro qualifier win

RIGA, Latvia - The Slovenian national football team defeated Latvia 5:0 in Riga on Monday evening to earn its first win in the four matches it has so far played in the qualifiers for the 2020 Euro. In what was almost a do-or-die game after they drew the first two matches and lost to Austria on the road on Friday, Slovenia came out of the gates, with Domen Črnigoj scoring goals in the 24th and 27th minutes.

11 Jun 2019, 02:45 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:


Coalition makes healthcare, pensions budgetary priorities for 2020, 2021

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Coalition partners and ministers agreed at a summit that the healthcare and pension systems would be the priorities of Slovenia's budgets in 2020 and 2021. Each will get EUR 200-300 million more annually, but the budgets will still be in surplus. The coalition agreed to have the budget surplus at around 1% of the country's GDP, with a view to have a structurally balanced budget by 2022. Health Minister Aleš Šabeder said his ministry's priorities were a long-term care bill, improving the management of medical organisations and reducing waiting times. He indicated private doctors will be needed to cut the long waiting times, but PM Marjan Šarec was quick to add this should not be a cover for "permanent privatisation". Defence Minister Karl Erjavec, the leader of the Pensioners' Party, said the budgets should enable Slovenia to meet its commitments to NATO and to raise pensions. Slovenia's possible candidates for the European commissioner were not discussed.

Coalition could reach consensus on abolishing electoral districts

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Public Administration Minister Rudi Medved presented to coalition leaders a proposal to change electoral legislation by abolishing electoral districts and introducing a relative preference vote. Although coalition parties are not unanimous on the proposal, Medved is optimistic a consensus could be reached. Forty-six votes in the 90-seat parliament are needed to redraw the map of electoral districts, whereas the preferential vote would require 60 "yes" votes. The five coalition parties in Marjan Šarec's minority government, however, have fewer than 46 votes, so no reform can be made without the opposition.

Šarec calls on new MEPs to cooperate closely with government

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec hosted five of the eight newly-elected Slovenian MEPs to express his wish for their closer cooperation with the government. While they do not represent Slovenia directly as part of the EU, cooperation needs to be coordinated nevertheless, he said after the meeting. Missing were the three MEPs elected on the joint slate of the Democrats (SDS) and People's Party (SLS), as they are attending a meeting of the European People's Party (EPP) in Spain. Ljudmila Novak of New Slovenia (NSi), also an EPP member, did attend. While Šarec said everybody had their priorities, Novak does not see the absence of the EPP colleagues as contentious.

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 Lawyer Rok Čeferin nominated for the Constitutional Court

LJUBLJANA - Rok Čeferin, a high-profile lawyer from one of Slovenia's best known law firms, has been formally nominated for the Constitutional Court seat that will be vacated in September. Pahor made the announcement following consultations with parliamentary factions that showed Čeferin was the only one of three candidates who could muster the requisite majority in the National Assembly. Rok Čeferin, 55 and the older brother of UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin, works for the law firm founded by their father Peter Čeferin. He has made a name for himself in professional circles as a theoretician of law and lectures media law at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana.

SSH invokes Abanka sale commitment, says govt may step in

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) has invoked state aid commitments in response to Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's suggestion the holding should reconsider continuing the sale of Abanka, but also said that the government could take a final decision on the bank's sale. "The SSH has an obligation to comply with the commitments to the European Commission and implement the strategy of management of state equity stakes," the holding told the STA when asked for a response to a tweet by Šarec, which came as he called the privatisation into question following a TV report which questioned the Commission's role in the bailout of banks in 2013 and 2014. Responding to SSH's statement, Šarec did not give a clear answer as to whether the government would take a decision on the Abanka sale.

NLB shareholders confirm dividend of EUR 7.13 per share

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of NLB bank confirmed the proposal to pay out EUR 142.6 million in dividends at EUR 7.13 per share, and endorsed all new candidates for the supervisory board. Mark William Lane Richards, Shrenik Dhirajlal Davda and Gregor Rok Kastelic have been appointed new supervisors and Andreas Klingen was reappointed effective on 11 June. The management has been authorised to buy NLB up to 36,542 own shares on the organised market over the next 36 months to be used in remuneration packages. Chairman Blaž Brodnjak described 2018 as a very special year since the bank was privatised, which will allow it to conduct business free of limitations imposed by the EU due to state aid commitments once the state has reduced its stake to 25% plus one share.

Tomaž Mencin new ambassador to Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - Tomaž Mencin is slated to become Slovenia's new ambassador to Ukraine, also covering Armenia, Georgia and Moldova, the Foreign Ministry said, noting President Borut Pahor signed a decree about his appointment on Friday. Having worked for the Foreign Ministry since 1992, Mencin has served at various posts at Slovenia's diplomatic missions around the globe. In 2011-2015 he was ambassador to Argentina, and charge d'affaires in India's New Delhi in 2002-2004.

Minister promotes Koper-Divača rail project in China

NINGBO, China - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek has set out the advantages of the new railway connecting Slovenia's sole maritime port as she addressed China - CEEC Investment and Trade Expo fair in China. According to a statement from her ministry, Bratušek addressed ministers and other senior officials of the countries participating in the fair in Ningbo, underscoring the importance of the emerging modern-day Silk Road that would create closer transport links between Asia and European countries. She noted the EUR 1 billion-plus project to build a second rail track between the Koper port and the tail junction in Divača in inland Slovenia. Bratušek will also visit Beijing where she will meet Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng.

Trade, investment discussed as Japanese minister visits Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Ways of encouraging economic cooperation were in the focus of a meeting between Japan's State Minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry Yoshihiro Seki and Slovenia's State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti. The pair also discussed NEDO, a three-year Japanese-Slovenian project developing smart networks, and Society 5.0, a Japanese initiative focusing on the question of how to utilise modern scientific and technological breakthroughs for the benefit of all segments of society. Signing a bilateral agreement on regular air traffic and a deal on flights between air carriers Adria Airways and ANA would be according to the ministry very important for Slovenia, as an increasing number of Japanese tourists visits Slovenia.

Defence Ministry finances road to placate locals around Poček

LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry will co-finance the expansion of a local road near the Poček training grounds as it seeks to placate mounting local opposition to what is the Slovenian army's main training facility. The local road Zagorje-Bač is in bad shape due to use by military vehicles and the Defence Ministry has agreed to pay three-quarters of the EUR 800,000 budgeted for the works. Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said it was "in the interest of the Slovenian Armed Forces to have orderly relations when it comes to cooperation with local communities." The Armed Forces have faced stiff local opposition to Poček, with residents arguing that the shooting and flyovers, including in night time, are damaging to the environment and people's health.

Unions happy with govt's proposals to improve soldiers' work

LJUBLJANA - A Defence Ministry task force presented a set of proposals to improve the status of Slovenian soldiers and their pay to trade unions. The proposals do not increase the wage bill, but include a number of other measures that would have positive effects on the lives of soldiers during service and after they retire at 45. The ministry would for instance like to provide more flats which can be rented out by soldiers at below-market prices and offer assistance when they retire. The unions representing Slovenian soldiers welcomed the planned measures. "At last one government is making a serious attempt to improve the situation in the military seriously," Marjan Lah of the Defence Ministry's Trade Unions said.

Pre-emptive right holder allowed to buy Tobačna City

LJUBLJANA - After a two-year dispute on the sale of land from the bankruptcy estate of a failed developer for the planned Tobačna City development in Ljubljana, the Higher Court has ruled that Igor Pezdirc, the owner of a tiny part of the land, will be able to buy the entire complex as the holder of the pre-emptive right. The development was sold by the administrator of the bankrupt builder Imos-G to the Austrian company EWO - Bauträger for EUR 25m in July 2018, but Pezdirc stepped forward to prevent the transaction. The court, which ruled in line with an April decision of the Constitutional Court, rejected speculation that he did not have enough money for the deal and that he was acting on behalf of Montenegrin businessman Alen Sijarić.

Industrial output continues to grow

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial production rose 5.6% year-on-year in April and was 1.8% higher than in March, the Statistics Office said. The monthly increase comes after two months of contraction, but on a year-on-year basis output has been growing since December. Mining contracted severely, by almost 12% over the year before, and electricity, gas and water supply was broadly flat, but manufacturing proceeded apace, growing by 6.4%. Industrial revenue grew, though at a slower pace than output.

Official says EBRD interested in investing in tourism, finance

LJUBLJANA - Jürgen Rigterink of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) told Delo that Slovenia was one of the most developed countries the bank cooperates with. He noted that the EBRD would like to invest in tourism and the financial industry in Slovenia, as well as in a potential privatisation of Petrol and possibly in the new rail line for the port of Koper. The EBRD is already active in the Slovenian banking sector with investments, and it expects the privatisation and consolidation of the sector to continue, the first vice president of the London-based bank told the newspaper in an interview.

Operator T-2 continues shopping spree

LJUBLJANA - Telecommunications operator T-2 has purchased a majority stake in Avision, a small provider of wireless services in western Slovenia, for an undisclosed price. It is the latest small operator to be acquired by T-2, a top-three telecommunications provider which has recently also bought cable operator Inatel after having acquired Telesat and KKS Kabel Kamnik in April. The buying spree follows a massive 2018 settlement with market leader Telekom Slovenije over antitrust behaviour whose value is believed to be worth roughly EUR 50m. While the market is consolidated at the top tier, T-2 has joined Telemach in consolidating the remaining bits.

Slovenia's supercomputer to be part of EuroHPC network

MARIBOR - The European Commission has selected eight centres to house the EuroHPC supercomputers, among them Slovenia's supercomputer in Maribor. The EU's high-performance computing (HPC) centres will be located in several EU cities, providing support to the research community and industry in developing know-how and knowledge applications in medicine, advanced materials and climate change combat. Called VEGA, after mathematician Jurij Vega, the Slovenian supercomputer, will have the capacity of five petaflops.

Ski star Štuhec's new coach is Stefan Abplanalp

LJUBLJANA - Women's downhill world champion Ilka Štuhec presented her team for the next World Cup season, having selected Swiss skiing expert Stefan Abplanalp as her new coach. The new addition to Štuhec's team has a wealth of experience, as he has coached ski stars including Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and Dominique Gisin. Štuhec, who is returning to skiing after suffering a knee injury in February, will be getting ready for the 2019/2020 season with the help of new fitness trainer Jani Gril and new physiotherapist David Kukovec. Abplanalp has replaced the skier's previous coach, Grega Koštomaj, with whom Štuhec surprisingly parted ways in March after years of successful cooperation.

Roglič to skip Tour de France

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's best road cyclist Primož Roglič, who has recently finished third in the Giro d'Italia, will not participate in this year's Tour de France, which starts on 6 July, his team Jumbo-Visma has confirmed. This is in line with the season plan for the 29-year-old, but speculations about Roglič taking part as a helper and being allowed to win individual stages at the Tour de France appeared after the Giro. Roglič finished fourth at the Tour last year for the best Slovenian result ever.

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10 Jun 2019, 02:48 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Pavliha rejected as Slovenian candidate for EU General Court judge

LJUBLJANA - International maritime law expert Marko Pavliha's candidacy for a Slovenian judge at the EU's General Court in Luxembourg has been rejected, which means Slovenia will have to pick another candidate. According to a TV Slovenija report, Pavliha was turned down after being heard in Brussels by a panel which issues an opinion on the candidate's suitability for the job. Pavliha, 56, confirmed the report the STA, but did not want to discuss details. Unofficial information indicates an anonymous letter listing some of his statements related to Croatia tipped the scales against him. Slovenia's judge at the General Court Miro Prek's term expires on 31 August.

Two Slovenians among cyber crime suspects in US

WASHINGTON, US - A US federal court unsealed earlier this week an indictment charging an America, a Spaniard and two Slovenians with racketeering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud through Darkode, a major computer hacking forum. The two suspects from Slovenia are Matjaž Škorjanc, 32, and Mentor Leniqi, a 35-year old Serbian citizen, who are together with the Spanish citizen still fugitives. Škorjanc is also accused of creating the Mariposa botnet and selling it on Darkode. In 2013, he was sentenced to four years and ten months in prison in Slovenia as the Mariposa botnet mastermind. Leniqi, one of his co-defendants, pleaded guilty in a pre-trial hearing, striking a deal to get a year and three months in jail. Coming out of prison, Škorjanc set up bitcoin marketplace NiceHash, which was hacked in 2017.

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09 Jun 2019, 02:37 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

PM calls for unity in face of "provocations"

LJUBELJ - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec issued a warning about resurgent animosities as he addressed a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of the liberation of a concentration camp. Mentioning "recent provocations," he said Slovenians did not want conflict, but it was necessary to speak up about such events. "We love our neighbours and we don't want conflict. But we are against individuals in these countries who think differently," he said, noting that it was politicians, not nations that are to blame for such things.

EU Commission expects Slovenia to comply with commitments

LJUBLJANA - The EU Commission said it expected Slovenia to comply with its commitments after Prime Minister Marjan Šarec cast doubt on privatisation of Abanka, saying that Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) should "seriously reconsider continuing the sale of Abanka." While refusing to specifically comment on the statement, a Commission spokesperson said late on Friday the Commission "expects member states to comply with their state aid commitments within the set deadlines."

Slovenia empty-handed in third round of Euro 2020 qualifying

KLAGENFURT, Austria - Slovenia lost 0:1 to Austria in the third round of qualifying for the Euro 2020 in Klagenfurt on Friday, the loss Coming after draws against North Macedonia and Israel. The sole goal for Austria came in the 74th minute, when Slovenian keeper Jan Oblak deflected a shot from Austrian striker Marko Arnautović, only for Guido Burgstaller to chip it in just minutes after coming in as replacement.

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08 Jun 2019, 03:07 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia condemns Hungary map

LJUBLJANA/BRESTANICA - Slovenia condemned a map published on an official Twitter profile of the Hungarian government that appears to suggest Slovenia and other countries had appropriated Hungarian lands in the aftermath of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon. The map "does not contribute to the strengthening of the EU values of cooperation and good-neighbourly relations," the Foreign Ministry said on Twitter. President Borut Pahor urged redoubling efforts for respect among nations, while PM Marjan Šarec made a reference to the map in an address to the Slovenian Exiles Day ceremony, saying that Nazism and fascism were making a comeback in Slovenia's neighbourhood. The map was also condemned by most parties.

PM casts doubt on Abanka privatisation

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has cast doubt on privatisation of Abanka, saying on Twitter that Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) should "seriously reconsider continuing the sale of Abanka. In particular to questionable funds." The tweet came after public broadcaster RTV Slovenija aired a long documentary Thursday about the 2013 bailout, raising questions in particular about the role of the European Commission in ordering that junior creditors of three banks be wiped out. "The practices of the then [European Commission] were highly unusual," Šarec said.

Slovenia must join commissioner game, Bulc says

BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc urged Slovenia to immediately join the game as the new Commission takes shape, noting that jockeying for positions is already well under way and it is essential to be there from the start. Asked which portfolio Slovenia should target, Bulc said "anything related to infrastructure is strategically very important for Slovenia." Another area of interest to Slovenia is "anything having to do with links with the region" in Slovenia's neighbourhood.

Complaint against fmr C-bank heads alleges they benefited NLB

LJUBLJANA - A criminal complaint filed against the former governor and vice governors of the central bank in the bank bailout investigation alleges the five procured EUR 277.38 million in unlawful assets for NLB bank, shows a facsimile of the document published by Portal Plus, a news portal. The complaint, filed by the National Bureau of Investigation in late-2018, alleges that central bank management knew the actual state of banks balance sheets had not been determined, a condition for the introduction of restructuring measures under the banking act.

Počivalšek discusses cooperation at business forum in Russia

  1. PETERSBURG, Russia - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). He also met Russian Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov and Alexander N. Shokhin, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The meetings focussed on ways to further strengthen economic cooperation. The possibility to help Slovenian companies win new deals in the Russian market was also on the agenda.

Pahor visiting Vienna next week

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor will visit Vienna on 13 June, meeting his counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen and likely also the country's new Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein, as well as Speaker Wolgang Sobotka. A day earlier, Pahor will attend a reception hosted by the Slovenian embassy in Vienna to mark Slovenia's Statehood Day, observed on 25 June.

Prelesnik slated for reappointment as info commissioner

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor sent to parliament a proposal to appoint Mojca Prelesnik Slovenia's information commissioner for a second five-year term. The president had consulted deputy group leaders about the candidate, establishing she enjoyed sufficient support for appointment, which requires a simple majority. Prelesnik's first term runs out on 17 July, so Pahor expects the National Assembly to take a vote on the nomination at June's plenary session.

Slovenia wants EU to be autonomous in digital economy

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Attending a session of the European Council for Telecommunications, Public Administration Ministry State Secretary Leon Behin said Slovenia wanted the EU to be competitive and more autonomous as it transforms into digital economy. He argued that an ethical digital economy was key to the EU's competitiveness. Behin also met German and Portuguese officials to discuss preparations for EU presidency, announcing the 5G revolution would be a major focuses of Slovenia's presidency in 2021.

Swift Response military exercise under way

CERKLJE OB KRKI - The international exercise Swift Response 2019 got under way in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania in which allied units from France, Italy, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and US will drill airborne operations and ground support activities. The exercise is running until 22 June. According to the Slovenian Armed Forces, the activities in Slovenia will be centred on the Cerklje ob Krki airbase, which will provide logistic support.

Exports growth outpaced by imports growth in April

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia exported EUR 2.81 billion worth of merchandise in April, an increase of 12.9% on the same month a year ago, while imports surged by 28.4% to EUR 3.09 billion, creating a trade deficit of EUR 278 million. The Statistics Office said this was the highest monthly trade deficit on record. In the first four months of the year Slovenia's exports increased by 10% to EUR 11.04 billion, while imports were up 13.9% to EUR 11.17 billion, with the deficit at EUR 128 million.

Ministry proposes all producers pay for packaging disposal

LJUBLJANA - The Environment Ministry put forward a draft decree on packaging and packaging waste which expands the obligation to pay for packaging disposal to all companies that put packed goods or packaging on the market, instead of just those who put out more than 15 tonnes. The decree, which will be under public consultation until 8 July, says that all producers which put packaged goods or packaging on the market must contribute to the management of all packaging waste generated in Slovenia.

Biennial of Graphic Arts focusing on satire and humour

LJUBLJANA - The 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts got under way at the International Centre of Graphic Arts and several other venues, with satire and humour as the common thread. Running until 29 September under the title Crack Up - Crack Down, the biennial was curated by the art collective Slavs and Tatars. The festival Grand Prix went to the Brit Hamja Ahsan and his The Aspergistan Referendum, a project encouraging reflection and repair of "broader structures of social exclusion and alienation".

Ljubljana outdoor festival season begins

LJUBLJANA - The outdoor festival season in Ljubljana opened with June in Ljubljana, a series of free events in the centre of the city that will kick off by Giselle performed by the SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana. More than thirty events will be held over two weeks starting during the day and culminating with evening shows on Congress Square and multiple other venues in the city centre. The highlights include a concert by the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and a concert by Swedish performer Tami T.

Exoplanet in Hercules constellation to be named in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The exoplanet WASP-38b and its star WASP-38 in the Hercules constellation will get their popular names in Slovenia as part of a campaign promoting astronomy to mark the 100th anniversary of the International Astronomical Union. Proposals for the names will be collected by the end of October. Running across the world under the slogan 100 Years Under One Sky this year, the NameExoWorlds campaign in Slovenia will pick a name for the exoplanet and its star located 446 light years from the Earth.

Slovenian women handball team qualify for world championship

CELJE - The Slovenian women's national handball team qualified for the World Handball Championship, to be played in Japan in the autumn, by defeating North Macedonia in a second play-off match last night. After beating North Macedonia in Skopje 33:30 last Sunday, Slovenia followed up the win with a 38:27 beatdown last evening, earning their sixth berth at the women's world handball championships. The team will be looking to improve on their best result at the worlds, the 8th place in Croatia in 2003.

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07 Jun 2019, 03:00 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Three Seas Initiative Summit urges EU to consider its goals

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Presidents of the Three Seas Initiative called on the EU following a summit to incorporate the initiative's goals in its existing and future policies, with interconnectivity and energy security topping the list of the initiative's priorities. Presenting the declaration after the summit, President Borut Pahor said that the initiative aimed not only to bridge the gaps between participating countries but also in the EU and strengthens transatlantic relations.

Three Seas Investment Talk urges steps to bride liquidity-investment gap

LJUBLJANA - The Investment Talk panel, held at the business forum of the Three Seas Initiative summit in Ljubljana, noted the major infrastructure investment gap affecting central and east Europe, and called for effective steps and funding instruments to bridge the glaring discrepancy between existing fiscal liquidity and actual investment. The opening address was delivered by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who underlined Slovenia's view that it was key to also focus on innovation along with the three key areas of the Three Seas Initiative - infrastructure, energy and digital interconnectivity.

Last Three Seas panel calls for concrete results, representation

LJUBLJANA - The business part of the Three Seas Initiative summit concluded with a panel which called for the agreements and plans by the 12 members of the initiative to be made concrete as soon as possible, and agreeing that the group should form a steering committee in order to communicate better with other organisations. Opening the panel, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said that "we must deliver, we have had a lot of ideas and projects and we need to come up with some concrete results."

US official says Slovenian-US relations great

LJUBLJANA - Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs at the US State Department, does not think Slovenia is too pro-Russian or that its foreign policy stance is straining relations with the US. He says US-Slovenian relations are great. "We're NATO allies, we're very proud of the fact that Slovenia was the first of the former Yugoslav countries to become a NATO member and to join the EU. Those were our foreign policy goals," he told the STA on the margins of the Three Seas Initiative summit.

Govt confirms controversial private school financing

LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed a controversial bill under which private primary schools are to get full state funding to teach publicly approved curricula, but what constitutes curricula was effectively narrowed to the extent that private schools are calling it a betrayal of constitutional commitments. The amendments to the act on the financing of education implement a 2014 Constitutional Court ruling mandating full rather than 85% state financing of publicly approved curricula at private primaries.

Almost 300 refugees accepted under EU solidarity schemes

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has so far welcomed almost 300 refugees based on EU solidarity schemes, some from other EU members and others from third countries, government data show. As part of the relocation scheme, Slovenia accepted 253 people between 2016-2018 and another 34 as part of the resettlement programme for migrants residing in non-EU countries. Although both schemes ended in 2018, Slovenia still occasionally shares the burden of refugees with other EU countries.

State firm taking over management of Maribor Airport

LJUBLJANA - DRI, a state-owned consulting and engineering company specialised in infrastructure projects, will take over management of Maribor Airport as a stop-gap solution after the current operator's lease terminates next month, the government decided. The decision comes after Chinese-backed airport operator Aerodrom Maribor announced in January it was invoking a six-month notice and terminating the 15-year lease agreement it signed in 2017 due to delays in a planned expansion of the runway.

Changes to VAT law pave way for lower tax on e-publications

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted changes to the VAT act to transpose three EU directives, including one enabling a lower VAT rate for e-publications. The changes will thus make it possible to apply the VAT rate which is applicable to printed books, newspapers and periodicals to these publications in the electronic form.

Quarter of EU cohesion funds paid out by end of March

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia paid out EUR 740 million in EU cohesion funds by the end of March, or 24% of the EUR 3.068 billion available to the country between 2014 and 2020, according to a report adopted by the government. By the end of March, 406 decisions on financial support for projects, schemes and public calls worth EUR 2.36 billion were issued, which represents 77% of the available funding. By the end of April, Slovenia had claimed EUR 722 million in reimbursement from Brussels, or 24% of the funding.

Gorenje to slash over 100 jobs

VELENJE - Home appliances producer Gorenje will lay off 104 workers, which is fewer than the initially planned 270, the in-house trade union said. Of the 1,481 workers planned to be laid off, 1,377 will be offered a new contract and the rest will be sacked, SKEI Gorenje said as it received the lay-off plan from the management. Gorenje employs over 4,200 workers in Slovenia and abroad, and is amid reorganisation following last year's takeover by China's Hisense and EUR 37 million in net loss.

Protests over Italian MP's proposal to amend minority law

LJUBLJANA/TRIESTE, Italy - The Slovenian minority in Italy, the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad and political parties voiced their protest after Italian MP Roberto Novelli had tabled an amendment to the law safeguarding the Slovenian minority under which a population census would be held in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region to determine language communities. The Government Office for Slovenians Abroad underscored that the minority could not be changed without the Slovenian minority's support.

Slovenia's gender pay gap increasing at top speed in EU

LJUBLJANA - A conference held by the German political foundation Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung and the trade union confederation ZSSS called for equal pay for equal work, noting that even though Slovenia's gender pay gap is relatively low compared to EU average, it has been increasing at the fastest rate. The latest figures put Slovenia's gender pay gap at 8% for 2017, which compares to EU average of 16%, but the gap expanded from only 0.9% in 2010. Women's earnings are lagging behind men's most severely in financial and insurance services, health and social care and education. The situation is surprisingly worse in the public sector rather than in private.

Pensioners demand 7% higher pensions, end of austerity

LJUBLJANA - The Trade Union of Pensioners (SUS) urged the government to raise pensions by 7.2% by 30 June 2020. This would make up for the shortfall resulting from austerity measures taken during the economic crisis when pensions were not raised as they should have been in line with legislation. The government had eliminated the austerity measures from the 2012 fiscal austerity law for all groups of citizens but pensioners, the SUS said in an open letter addressed to the government and MPs.

Pulp and Paper Institute launches new research centre

LJUBLJANA - The Pulp and Paper Institute (ICP) from Ljubljana has launched a renovated centre for research of biomas-based materials and products as part of the InnoRenew project. The new equipment will facilitate research of compounds from wood biomass and other biomass such as pulp and green chemicals, and development of renewable materials and end products based on biomass. The investment is worth EUR 1.25 million, of which EUR 750,000 came from InnoRenew and the rest from the ICP.

Attack on Maribor mayor's restaurant related to his work

MARIBOR - Maribor crime investigators have tracked down the perpetrators of the March attack on a restaurant owned by the new Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič. It was two young men who damaged a window with an explosive device, but they had been paid to do so by a 41-year-old unhappy with some of Arsenovič's decisions. The 21- and 17-year-old turned themselves in after police published security camera material documenting their night attack. They had been paid EUR 300 for the attack by the 41-year-old man while a 48-year-old man provided them with the explosive device which only caused material damage.

All of Slovenia's bathing waters meet EU quality standards

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Bathing water quality in 41 of 47 Slovenian bathing waters included in the European Commission's report for 2018 were classified as being of excellent quality, with all 21 coastal bathing waters receiving this grade. Five waters were labelled good, one as sufficient and none as poor. With the exception of 2011 when one bathing site was classified as good, all coastal bathing waters in Slovenia have persistently been labelled as excellent since 2009.

06 Jun 2019, 02:10 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia hosts Three Seas Initiative summit

LJUBLJANA - A two-day summit of the Three Seas Initiative got under way with a large business forum featuring more than 600 participants from over 40 countries. The summit, hosted by President Borut Pahor, is attended by the presidents of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, while Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are represented by junior officials. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and US ebergy Secretary are the guests of honour. The presidential panel was marked by calls for moving from words to action. Pahor as the moderator of the panel said the participating countries would have concrete proposals to present as the new team of the European Commission shortly took office.

Energy, transport high on agenda of Three Seas Initiative summit

LJUBLJANA - A high-profile panel on energy held as part of the Three Seas Initiative summit pointed to diversification of sources, decreasing dependence on one source of energy and investments in expansion of renewable energy as the most important measures in the field. A panel on transport meanwhile saw the participants highlight connectivity and decarbonisation of transport as the main future priorities in the EU and in the countries of the initiative, which are heavily in rail infrastructure, to close the gap with the west. European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc pointed to four priorities - decarbonisation, digitalisation, investment and innovation, putting a special emphasis on the last one.

US keen on selling nuclear tech to Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Meeting President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec on the sidelines of the Three Seas Initiative summit, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the US was keen on selling Slovenia technology for small modular nuclear reactors. Slovenia is "an excellent potential market for this game-changing technology", Perry told reporters when asked why Slovenia, which is considering building a second reactor in Krško, should choose a US-made reactor over designs from other countries. He said the issue was not only about the best technology but also about safety and non-proliferation.

Brussels tells Slovenia to proceed with reforms and privatisation

BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - The European Commission made a repeated call on Slovenia to secure fiscal sustainability, reforms in healthcare, long-term care, the pension system and labour market, improve the business environment and proceed with privatisations. The recommendations, issued as part of the European Semester, were also extended to investment with the Commission saying it should focus on innovation, energy transition, sustainable transport and environmental infrastructure. Responding to the recommendations, the Finance Ministry said the Commission had acknowledged the progress Slovenia made in public finance.

Cerar, Šarec say speculation about EU commissioner candidate uncalled for

LJUBLJANA - In response to the speculation he was tipped as a candidate for Slovenia's EU commissioner, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said the coalition had not yet discussed potential candidates, adding PM Marjan Šarec would be the one to nominate them. Cerar said the speculation, coming after he decided not to stand for re-election as SMC leader at his party's congress in autumn, were uncalled for and inappropriate, a view also expressed by Šarec. Šarec said there were several suitable commissioner candidates, so the government would have a hard choice to make.

EU enlargement in focus of Montenegrin speaker's visit

LJUBLJANA - Montenegro's EU integration and the Western Balkans featured high on the agenda as Speaker Ivan Brajović began an official two-day visit to Slovenia by meeting his counterpart Dejan Židan and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar. Židan congratulated Brajović on Montenegro's progress towards the EU, hoping the integration process would be completed as soon as possible. He is convinced this will contribute to stability in the region and give hope to some other countries aspiring to join the EU. "Montenegro can count on Slovenia's support," Židan said. Brajović said Montenegro counted on becoming the first new EU member when the Union expanded.

CoE urges Slovenia to bridge "impunity gap in hate speech cases"

STRASBOURG, France - A report by the Council of Europe's anti-racism commission covering 2014-2018 finds progress in anti-discrimination legislation in Slovenia, but it also calls on the country to bridge the "impunity gap in hate speech cases". The report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance also notes a lack of reliable and updated data needed to combat racial discrimination, and continued issues faced by Roma with respect to access to housing and safe water.

Slovenia protests over Trieste councillor map

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec and the Foreign Ministry condemned a move by Trieste city councillor Lorenzo Giorgi, who marked Italy's Republic Day, observed on 2 June, by posting on his Facebook a map of Italy with parts of Slovenia as well as Croatia's Istria and Dalmatia. "Historical revisionism goes against the basic principles of the European system, while such actions do not benefit neighbour relations," the ministry said, while Šarec called the move a stab in the heart.

Lobbying reports quadrupled in four years, corruption watchdog report shows

LJUBLJANA - The president of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, Boris Štefanec, presented the watchdog's report for 2018, expressing satisfaction with more reported cases of lobbying. In 2014, some 1,120 cases were reported to the commission, while the figure exceeded 4,860 last year. He believes the rise shows the commission was successful in raising awareness about reporting all attempts at influencing decision making. He also indicated he might apply for re-appointment as his term expires at the end of March 2020.

Vilenica Prize goes to Dragan Velikić

LJUBLJANA - Dragan Velikić, one of the most esteemed Serbian authors, is the winner of the Vilenica Prize, which will be presented at the conclusion of the 34th Vilenica International Literary Festival in Slovenia in mid-September. Commenting on the news for the newspaper Primorske Novice, Velikić said the Vilenica Festival was very important to him. Velikić has won all the major literary awards in Serbia as well as accolades abroad.

Slovenia showcased at Prague Quadrennial with mural, triptych

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Kapital 2018, a mural by art collective Irwin, and a triptych of video books, are Slovenia's show pieces at the 14th Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. Running between 5 and 16 June, the Quadrennial is the largest international festival of theatre and stage design. Curated by Barbara Novakovič Kolenc from independent art producer Muzeum, the Slovenian installation, themed Warped Space, is showcased in the main section, Exhibition of Countries and Regions.

Slovenia's joblessness keeps falling

LJUBLJANA - The number of people registered as unemployed with the Slovenian Employment Service decreased by 2.6% in May to 72,012, a decline of 6.1% compared to the same month a year ago. In May 4,515 people were freshly registered on the unemployed roll, a drop of 9% compared to April and 11% fewer than a year ago. Out of the 6,468 removed from the roll, 4,723 found a job or got self-employed. This is 20% fewer than in April and 10.5% fewer than in May 2018.

Slovenia's minimum wage ranks 9th in EU

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia ranks ninth among the 22 EU member states that have a statutory minimum wage in terms of the gross minimum wage rate. This year's increase in Slovenia's minimum wage to EUR 886.63 was among the modest ones, finds the annual report on minimum wages in the EU and Norway, published by Eurofound on Monday. The highest wage rate was registered in Luxembourg (EUR 2,071.10), and the lowest in Bulgaria (EUR 286.33).

TEŠ drags HSE group into the red

VELENJE - As the Šoštanj coal-fired power station (TEŠ) sunk deeper into the red last year, its owner, national power utility HSE, also posted a loss in 2018, HSE CEO Stojan Nikolić said on the sidelines of an energy conference. The loss amounted to EUR 31 million, but HSE can still cope with it, as it is within plans. Nikolić attributed TEŠ's mounting loss to impairments.

Slovenia and Hungary sign energy memorandum

LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek and Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto signed a memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation which focuses on gas pipelines and high-voltage power lines. The pair also discussed Slovenia's construction of a new rail line to its port of Koper, with Bratušek noting a decision on whether any country would take part in the project "will be taken shortly, perhaps by the end of the year". Hungary had been mentioned by the previous Slovenian government as one of the possible landlocked countries to co-finance the investment.

Plastics maker Plastika Skaza honoured by German business

LJUBLJANA - Plastika Skaza, a fast-growing maker of plastic products, is this year's winner of the award for innovations given out by the Slovenian-German Chamber of Commerce. The company was honoured for its focus on synergies, sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.

05 Jun 2019, 03:05 AM

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This summary was prepared by the STA

Cerar not to seek re-election as SMC president

LJUBLJANA - Modern Centre Party (SMC) president Miro Cerar notified the party he would not seek re-election at the congress he called for autumn after SMC performed dismally in the EU election. Cerar made the announcement at the outset of a session of the party's executive committee, SMC said on its official Twitter profile. He will stay on as foreign minister and "help the party remain a firm member of the coalition and an important factor in the Slovenian political arena," the party said.

MPs not done quizzing spies yet

LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services interrogated two former directors of SOVA, Damir Črnčec and Stane Štemberger, over the national intelligence agency role in an eavesdropping scandal that undermined the Slovenia-Croatia border arbitration. Unable to draw firm conclusions, the MPs decided to now question junior SOVA officials. Commission chair Matej Tonin said the MPs wanted to talk to the agents assigned to the arbitration case to find out what kind of assurances Slovenian arbitration agent Simona Drenik got with regard to communications security.

Eurovote results complete, turnout at just below 29%

LJUBLJANA - The National Electoral Commission released full results of the 26 May European parliamentary election in Slovenia, having added the vote from abroad. This did not affect the distribution of seats, but it did increase the turnout to 28.89%, a record for a Eurovote in the country. A total of 8,920 valid ballots were cast at Slovenia's diplomatic and consular offices abroad and mailed from abroad.

Darko Muženič takes over as head of NBI

LJUBLJANA - Darko Muženič, who formerly served as the head of the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering, took over on 1 June as the director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), according to an announcement by the Slovenian police. Muženič succeeds Darko Majhenič, who served until the end of May as the acting director after his five-year term at the helm of the NBI ran out at the end of 2018.

Slovenia working on expanding cooperation with Switzerland

BERN, Switzerland/LJUBLJANA - Economic cooperation between Slovenia and Switzerland has been gaining momentum for years, with trade exceeding EUR 2 billion for the first time last year. Ambassador Marta Kos told the STA that there was still a lot of potential, something Slovenia seems to be set to take advantage of with three high-level political trips planned this year, including President Borut Pahor's official visit planned in September.

Muslim community concerned about Islamophobia

LJUBLJANA - As Slovenian Muslims gathered to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in Ljubljana, Mufti Nedžad Grabus expressed concern about what he said was growing Islamophobia in Slovenia. Addressing believers gathered for the Eid al-Fitr prayer, the leader of the Slovenian Muslim Community spoke about the "development of Islamophobia, which is being spread to Slovenia by means of extremist and nationalist platforms in Europe and which is manifested through certain media and political concepts in daily labelling and defining of Islam as a violent religion".

Environment Ministry proposes new EPR system

LJUBLJANA - The Environment Ministry is proposing overhauling the extended producer responsibility (EPR) system so that entities collecting and treating waste from certain type of products would be owned by manufacturers of these products. The new system is to become fully operational on 1 January 2022, ministry official Peter Tomše told an event at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) as he set out the corresponding amendments to the environmental protection act.

Ljubljana gets new Niš route, more frequent flights to Paris, London

LJUBLJANA - Air Serbia will launch a new route between Ljubljana and Niš in August, while Air France-KLM plans to increase flight frequency to Paris and British Airways will beef up flights to London, Ljubljana airport operator Fraport Slovenija told the press. During peak summer season, another airline will improve its connections with the Ljubljana airport - between 15 July and 2 September, British Airways will operate flights twice per week from London Heathrow to Ljubljana, on Mondays and Fridays.

Locals anxious as Maribor airport's fate remains uncertain

MARIBOR - With a month and a half to go before the termination of the lease for the Maribor Airport becomes effective, local businesses and politicians are sounding the alarm, demanding that the government come up with a solution to keep the airport alive. "Whatever decision they adopt to avoid shutting down the airport, this procedure needs to be wrapped up and a private partner found to develop the airport," according to Marko Soršak, the mayor of Hoče-Slivnica, the municipality where the airport is located.

Šoštanj power station deeper in the red

ŠOŠTANJ - The Šoštanj coal-fired power plant (TEŠ) sunk deeper into the red last year with unaudited results showing it posted a net loss of EUR 58.5 million on EUR 196.8 million in revenue. TEŠ incurred a net loss of EUR 32.6 million in 2007 on revenue that was EUR 8 million higher than in 2018. In 2016 the company posted a net loss of EUR 47.2 million.

Basketball clubs Cedevita and Olimpija announce merger

LJUBLJANA - The Croatian basketball club Cedevita from Zagreb and Petrol Olimpija from Ljubljana announced a merger, with the new club to be seated in Stožice Arena in Ljubljana and bring together the best available Slovenian players. The club will be called Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana. According to Petrol Olimpija president Tomaž Berločnik, it would be a Slovenian club featuring "best Slovenian players", which would play in the national championship and become a top-level centre for the development of young players.

John Zorn, Snarky Puppy headline 60th Ljubljana Jazz Festival

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Jazz Festival will celebrate its 60th anniversary in two weeks with an all-star line-up that includes John Zorn and Snarky Puppy, in what promises to be one of the most high-profile jazz events in Europe this year. All in all, thirty concerts are scheduled at eight venues, making the Ljubljana Jazz Festival "one of the most high-profile jazz events in Europe," according to programme director Bogdan Benigar. There will also be several accompanying events

Nenad Firšt wins composers' award

LJUBLJANA - This year's Kozina Award, given out by the Slovenian Composers' Association, was conferred on Tuesday on composer Nenad Firšt, who currently chairs the association. Firšt was honoured for the music he has written for bowed string instruments. More than half of compositions by Firšt are for bowed string instruments, with the composer "using all of their colours and sound possibilities", the jury said. On top of many awards and recognitions, Firšt received the Prešeren Fund Award for artistic achievements in 2009.

Missing Brit found dead in Koritnica river

BOVEC - A Brit who went missing in the treacherous Koritnica gorge five days ago was found dead in the Koritnica river this morning, police confirmed. The body of the 23-year-old was spotted by a group of German kayakers some 300 metres downstream from Kluže Fort, an old military checkpoint positioned over the gorge, where the Brit dropped his phone into the gorge on Thursday. The five-day effort to find him involved specialised mountain police officers from three regions, a special diving unit, firefighters and the mountain rescue service.

Survey shows poor financial literacy in 25-34 age group

LJUBLJANA - A survey has shown that the financial literacy index among Slovenians is 14.5 on a scale from zero to 21. What stands out is that the population group aged between 25 and 34 has relatively poor knowledge of finance, the authors of the survey have pointed out. "Despite financial literacy not being exceptionally low in Slovenia on a European scale, we call for a systematic promotion of financial literacy in Slovenia," said Maja Krumberger of the Slovenian Insurance Association.

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04 Jun 2019, 02:35 AM

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Šarec urges liberal parties to join forces

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec called on Slovenian members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) to join forces heading into the next general election even though his party was successful independently in the recent EU vote. "Whichever way you look at it, ALDE parties will have to join forces as a matter of urgency if we don't want excessive fragmentation," Šarec said in a Facebook post on Monday. Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Karl Erjavec endorsed in principle Šarec's idea, saying such consolidation was "very realistic" and merited "in-depth consideration." The Modern Centre Party (SMC) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) expressed reservations, with the SAB saying it did not believe Šarec was serious, and the SMC understanding the statement as an appeal to closer cooperation that may lead to links which do not necessarily constitute a merger of parties.

Počivalšek and Bavarian minister talk cooperation in industry 4.0

MUNICH, Germany - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy and Hubert Aiwanger highlighted industry 4.0 and digitalisation as potential fields of closer future cooperation as Počivalšek started a two-day visit to Germany. Počivalšek also pointed to the continuing cooperation in the auto industry and the need for the EU to become the leader in autonomous vehicles using AI, saying Slovenian companies can provide the know-how, experience and technology in this field too. On Tuesday, Počivalšek will take part in the biennial Transport Logistic fair. According to the Economy Ministry, 19 Slovenian companies will present themselves at the trade fair under the auspices of the investment promotion agency Spirit.

Labour Ministry confident minimum wage raise can proceed

LJUBLJANA - The macroeconomic situation in Slovenia, both in the past and now, as well as the one projected in forecasts, will allow the country to go ahead with the plan to raise the minimum wage, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. In total, the minimum wage bill will go up by EUR 197 million next year due to the increase, heard the maiden meeting of an expert council on decent work and social security, an advisory body to the ministry comprised of representative trade unions and chaired by minister Ksenija Klampfer. This year, the minimum wage has already been raised from EUR 638 net to EUR 667, while in 2020 it is to reach EUR 700. Employers have started to push against the raise, but unions have been equally adamant to enforce it.

Road safety, drunk driving discussed at upper chamber

LJUBLJANA - The National Council hosted a panel debate at which the ministers of infrastructure, home affairs, justice and health discussed methods to improve road safety. Pointing to everyone's personal responsibility for safe driving, they said a change in the mindset would be needed to have no casualties on Slovenian roads. Traffic Safety Agency acting director Vesna Marinko said measured would be drafted on the basis of best practice to improve road safety with a view to achieve vision zero - no fatalities involving road traffic. Experts from various fields joining the debate said there was a lot of room for improvement, highlighting traffic control, infrastructure, training of young drivers or the risks posed by older drivers.

Slovenian, Croatian cohesion ministers happy with cooperation

DELNICE, Croatia - Iztok Purič, the minister of development and cohesion policy, and his Croatian counterpart Gabrijela Žalac praised the cooperation of their countries in cross-border projects as they met at an event in Risnjak National Park in Croatia, near the border with Slovenia. In his address, Purič expressed satisfaction that the Interreg Slovenia-Croatia programme has already allocated all of the funds available to it in the 2014-2020 period. The ministers also talked about the upcoming EU presidencies of their respective countries.

Waste packaging remains issue despite emergency law

LJUBLJANA - Although the country has a new law on packaging waste, the waste continues to pile up, which means the law is ineffective, two waste packaging management companies warned as they spoke to the press. Dinos and Interseroh proposed a set of measures to deal with what they said was an acute situation, with Goran Ambrož of Dinos saying that packaging waste was piling up again, making it a public health, environmental and fire hazard. The companies propose that all companies putting packaging waste on the market should pay for disposal, which means the rule under which only companies which put more than 15 tonnes on the market pay for its disposal should be eliminated.

Slovenia becomes chair of intl association of plant bakers

LJUBLJANA/MANCHESTER, UK - Slovenia became the chair of the International Association of Plant Bakers (AIBI) at the association's congress in Manchester the past weekend. For the next two years, AIBI will be led by Janez Bojc, the head of the baking section at Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and general manager of the bread and pasta maker Žito. "This is the first time in more than sixty-year history of this respected association that Slovenia got the honour and responsibility of holding its presidency," GZS said in a press release. Slovenia's presidency will wrap up with an international baking industry conference in Bled between 27 and 30 May 2021.

WWII deportees want Slovenia to at least claim EUR 3bn from Germany

LJUBLJANA - The Society of Slovenian Deportees 1941-1945 urged Slovenia ahead of 7 June, Slovenian Deportees Day, to claim at least a symbolic portion of what it says remains around EUR 50 billion owed by Germany in war damages. The society's Ivica Žnidaršič believes Slovenians know too little about the deportations that started in June 1991. "Slovenian deportees remain the group of Slovenians that have been hurt the most, since we lost all of our property and never received reparations. We only secured our status as victims of war violence in 1995," she told the press.

European Walk of Peace planned in remembrance of WWI

BOVEC - Partners from nine countries, including Slovenia, have pledged to set up an European Walk of Peace to bring together the heritage of World War One (WWI) around Europe. Zdravko Likar, the president of the Walk of Peace Foundation, which had given the idea for this pan-European project, says that the project was "not just about remembering, it's foremost a noble idea about the necessity of peaceful coexistence among European nations." A charter on the partnership was signed by Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia as they attended an international conference on WWI in Bovec last week.

SAZU's protest for language protection gains support

LJUBLJANA - Slovenska Matica, the nation's oldest cultural and scientific society, and the Slovenian PEN association of writers have expressed support for a recent letter to the government and the Constitutional Court in which the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) calls for better protection of the Slovenian language. "We support the demand that all documents, all digital applications in public use must be translated to Slovenian, the official language," Slovenska Matica said shortly after the original letter of protest was presented by SAZU.

Slovenians crowned diatonic accordion world champions

VIENNA, Austria - Slovenian Danaja Grebenc has won the Junior Diatonic Accordion World Championship, while her compatriot Anže Krevh has become the world champion among adult accordion players. The international competition recently took place in Austrian Sankt Peter-Freienstein, hosted by the Austrian Accordion Association. Grebenc from Dravograd Krevh from Lovrenc na Pohorju have thus brought both titles to Slovenia in a historic achievement of winning both categories. A record number of 16 Slovenian accordionists performed at the competition.

Indian tourist dies in boating accident on the Sava

RADOVLJICA - A 34-year-old woman from India has been killed in a boating accident on the Sava river as a rafting boat carrying eight tourists capsized close to Radovljica this weekend. The woman was pulled out of the water by locals and resuscitated, but she later died in hospital, police said today. The boat, carrying eight tourists and two guides, capsized Sunday afternoon near the Šobec campsite when it hit a turn in the river, according to police.

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