News

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Exports, imports plummet in April

LJUBLJANA – Slovenia’s exports dropped by 28.8% to EUR 2.01 billion in April compared to April 2019, the sharpest contraction since 2008, while imports plummeted by 41.2% to EUR 1.86 billion, the Statistics Office said. The trend was driven by a decline in car trade, which shrank by about three-quarters compared to last April. Road vehicles are the third most traded group of products, preceded only by medical and pharmaceutical products, and electric machines and devices. The surplus in external trade in goods reached EUR 149.3 million, the highest surplus in a decade.

Pandemic to mark EU presidency trio priorities

LJUBLJANA – State secretaries from Slovenia, Portugal and Germany discussed the priorities of the countries’ successive stints at the presidency of the Council of the EU in a videoconference, agreeing those would be strongly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, ans noting the importance of development cooperation. Similarly, in an address to a meeting of ambassadors of EU countries, Western Balkans and Turkey in Ljubljana, hosted by the EU House as part of Croatia’s EU presidency, PM Janez Janša said the coronavirus epidemic had changed the government priorities as well as the priorities of Slovenia’s upcoming EU presidency. He suggested the need to tackle dependence on Asian markets for critical equipment, urging a joint EU action plan for potential new wave of Covid-19.

Slovenia to host Brdo-Brijuni summit on 29 June

LJUBLJANA – The next summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process of cooperation in the Western Balkans will take place on 29 June at Brdo and will mark the 10th anniversary of the initiative. The office of President Borut Pahor said that all leaders of the participating countries – Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo – had been invited and chances were good they would all attend, provided the epidemiological situation allowed.

Chinese ambassador says 17+1 summit new opportunity for cooperation

LJUBLJANA – While China and Slovenia have had good relations, Chinese Ambassador to Slovenia Wang Shunqing told the STA a new opportunity to deepen the relations will be the 17+1 initiative summit in Beijing. Wang expects that the good bilateral relations between China and Slovenia, which were confirmed by the visit by Foreign Minister Wang Yi last December, will continue under the Janez Janša government. The ambassador also hopes Slovenia will be pragmatic in picking 5G technology. « I hope that it will take a pragmatic approach and that it will not succumb to the US influence, » he said.

Opposition file ouster motion against interior minister

LJUBLJANA – The four left-leaning opposition parties filed an ouster motion against Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, their second against a minister since the Janez Janša government was sworn in in mid-March. The move comes after the ministry overrode a ban on a concert by Croatian singer Marko Perković Thompson, who is accused of glorifying the Ustasha regime. But the parties included several additional points. The four parties are seven votes short of the needed majority for the motion to pass. Meanwhile, a Thompson concert will not be held for the time being.

Šircelj says EUR 5bn in EU funds for Slovenia « adequate estimate »

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj believes the estimate of funds Slovenia is to receive as part of the EU’s anti-coronavirus measures – around EUR 5 billion – is « adequate ». He hopes the European Commission sticks to these estimates when it sets conditions for receiving the funds in more detail. This was as EU finance ministers discussed for the first time the EUR 750 billion in funds to be available to member states to revive the EU economy after the pandemic.

Zobec withdraws Constitutional Court bid

LJUBLJANA – Barbara Zobec has withdrawn her bid for Constitutional Court judge. In a statement sent to the National Assembly on Monday, she said she had decided to run for the post because of the expertise, experience and reputation she gained in her 35-year career on the bench. But she realised that in the « overheated and split Slovenian political and ideological reality » alliances take precedence over one’s dedication to the constitutional order, human rights and equality. Zobec enjoyed the support of the ruling SDS, while most other parties tentatively endorsed the only other candidate, Andraž Teršek.

Slovenian, German ministers discuss EU Green Deal

LJUBLJANA – The Slovenian and German environment ministers, Andrej Vizjak and Svenja Schulze, discussed the priorities of the EU presidency which Germany is assuming on 1 July, focussing on the Green Deal, an economic growth plan aiming to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The pair shared a view that Europe must put the Green Deal at the forefront of its plans to revive the economy after the coronavirus.

One new coronavirus case on Monday

LJUBLJANA – Out of 814 coronavirus tests conducted, one came back positive, raising the total number of coronavirus infections in Slovenia so far to 1,486. The case is a patient at Jesenice hospital who had been in contact with a nurse who tested positive last week. There are now a total of seven cases from that cluster. Government data show six Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, none needs intensive treatment.

Doctors reject criticism of improper treatment of elderly

LJUBLJANA – Amid a debate on the treatment of care home residents during the coronavirus epidemic, a statement was issued by several medical organisations and representatives of medical staff saying that the elderly received proper care during the epidemic. Doctors’ organisations said all decisions on the treatment of elderly patients and their potential hospitalisation during the epidemic were made in the best interest of the patients. « We find statements that care home residents were neglected compared to other citizens false and ill-conceived. »

Court annuls anti-trust decision against United Media

LJUBLJANA – The Administrative Court has annulled the Competition Protection Agency (AVK) order that United Media, the media division of United Group, sell its Sport Klub TV channels due to anti-trust rules. The court said it had established « substantial procedural violations » and tasked the anti-trust watchdog with deciding on the matter again. Cas Media, a subsidiary of United Group, said the court had found the AVK had failed to consider all relevant circumstances and denied United Media the right to present certain relevant facts.

High fines for tourist voucher fraud

LJUBLJANA – As more details emerged on the holiday vouchers handed out to all residents to help Slovenian tourism survive the Covid-19 crisis, officials told reporters that cheating involving the vouchers will entail fines of EUR 1,200 to 40,000 for legal entities and EUR 200 to 600 for individuals. The Financial Administration (FURS) and market inspectors will conduct random checks. FURS will pay the providers for the service within 30 days. Payments will not be possible via platforms such as Booking or Airbnb.

Fish Society reports Environment Minister Vizjak to corruption watchdog

LJUBLJANA – The Slovenian Native Fish Society reported Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Andrej Vizjak to the Corruption Prevention Commission over an alleged conflict of interest and ethics breaches in connection to the recent deregulation of environmental permit procedures. It said Vizjak had been personally in charge of the pending Mokrice hydro power plant project before he became minister in March, whereupon he oversaw legislative changes that deregulate permit procedures for major projects and exclude a large part of NGOs.

NGO wants cross-border study for Venice-Trieste rail upgrade

LJUBLJANA – Alpe Adria Green requested a cross-border environmental impact assessment for Italy’s project to upgrade the railway line between Venice and Trieste, as it includes construction of tunnels in the sensitive karst terrain and threatens sources of drinking water in the proximity of Slovenia. It said the construction of the Venice-Trieste railway would include « work which would have a significant environmental impact in the underground of the Trieste karst close to the border with Slovenia. »

Head of consular service to be decorated for repatriation efforts

LJUBLJANA – President Borut Pahor announced he will decorate Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s consular service, with the Order of Merit for helping Slovenian citizens around the world, most notably for his emergency repatriation efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic. Šter played a key role in the ministry’s efforts to help stranded Slovenians return back home after air travel restrictions were imposed due to the coronavirus outbreaks worldwide.

Employment outlook for Q3 worst since 2013

LJUBLJANA – Manpower Group presented a grim employment outlook for the third quarter of the year. The share of employers planning layoffs surpasses those planing to hire by seven percentage points. The net hiring outlook for the next quarter is 5 percentage points lower than for this quarter, and 23 percentage points lower than for the same period last year. This marks the worst jobs outlook since 2013.

Fortenova hopeful to take over Mercator soon

LJUBLJANA – Mercator shareholders gave the management and supervisory boards discharge of liability for 2019. Since the controlling company of the Mercator group made no profit last year, none was distributed and the loss remains uncovered. At a separate event, Mercator chairman Tomislav Čizmić argued for prompt transfer of Mercator from Croatia’s indebted Agrokor to its successor Fortenova, now blocked by the Slovenian regulator over a fine, which Fortenova chairman Fabris Peruško indicated could be settled.

Alamut to be published in China

LJUBLJANA – Alamut, a critically acclaimed novel about an 11th century Persian religious leader by Slovenian author Vladimir Bartol (1903-1967), will be published in China in autumn, said the Slovenian publisher Sanje, which holds international copyright for the novel. Sanje announced it signed a contract with the publisher Beijing Book Search Cultural Communication, which will translate the book and publish it. It will be printed in simplified Chinese.

Oscar nominee Honeyland opening 22nd Documentary Film Festival

LJUBLJANA – North Macedonia’s Honeyland, an Oscar nominee, opened the 22nd Documentary Film Festival, to be followed by around two dozen films. Five documentaries will compete for the Human Rights Award conferred by Amnesty International Slovenia: Exemplary Behaviour by Audrius Mickevičius and Nerijus Milerius; For Sama by Waad Al Kateab Waad and Edward Watts; Advocate by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche; Collective by Alexander Nanau; and Overseas by Yoon Sung-a.

Creators lie down in front of ministry in protest

LJUBLJANA – Culture workers held a third weekly protest in front of the Culture Ministry to point to what they believe is the ministry’s inactivity in protecting the vulnerable sector during the coronavirus epidemic. An estimated hundred of them laid to the ground and stayed motionless there for a few minutes in what was labelled the Last Act for Culture. « We have gathered once more because the Ministry of Culture insufficiently cares for art and culture, » the organisers said.

Volleyball team gets Order of Merit

LJUBLJANA – The men’s volleyball team, the 2019 European Championship silver medallists, were decorated with the Order of Merit by President Borut Pahor for their inspiring athletic achievements and for promoting Slovenia on the international stage. President Pahor said they « proved with unpretentiousness and kindness that friendship still exists in top sports ». Tine Urnaut, who captained Slovenia during the feat, thanked everyone for the « fairy tale we will always carry in our hearts ».

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