STA, 26 May 2022 - Storms that raged in parts of eastern and north-eastern Slovenia on Wednesday afternoon have caused significant damage, especially in the Pomurje region and the small town of Rogatec that were hit by egg-sized hail.
The hail damaged around 100 cars and roofs in Rogatec, a town located a stone's throw away from Slovenia's eastern border with Croatia. The damage would have been even greater had it not been for local firefighters, who did their best to cover the roofs with protective foil, Rogatec Mayor Martin Mikolič told the STA on Thursday.
He said the hail affected crops and vineyards, but thankfully no buildings were flooded this time. The head of the Rogatec Voluntary Fire Brigade, Danijel Lež, told the news portal 24ur.com that firefighters had been working until late at night and were mobilised again today to assist with roof repair.
The Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief said a severe storm with heavy rainfall, hail and strong winds hit the eastern and north-eastern parts of Slovenia at around 4:30pm yesterday. A total of 40 firefighting units have been deployed to deal with the consequences of the storm.
Toča Rogatec. pic.twitter.com/1uZWIJIO6k— OF (@rogacan) May 25, 2022
So far, around 100 incidents have been reported, most of them, nearly 60, in the north-eastern Pomurje region where, in addition to the wind, the storm also dropped hail, damaging a large number of roofs, flooding basements and felling trees. Many fire brigades were deployed.
The area alongside the Mura river was hit hardest, and the most damage was done to fields, gardens and orchards. It is still too early to estimate the full extent of the damage, said Metka Barbarič from the Murska Sobota agriculture and forestry authority.
Crops nearing the end of the ripening process are more affected, while newly-planted crops tend to recover well after such events.
The highest number of incidents was recorded in the Radenci municipality, whose mayor, Roman Leljak, estimates the damage at around EUR 300,000 there alone.
Firefighters had to intervene in Gornja Radgona, where a local road was buried beneath a landslide. They also dealt with damaged roofs and flooded buildings and streets in several other places.
Pummelling the area, hail brought motorway and street traffic to a standstill, and about 250 metres of roadway had to be cleared in the Lendava municipality.
The weather will remain moody in the coming days, and Slovenia can expect temperatures to drop by as much as 10-15 degrees over the weekend. Despite the weather turning cooler, this May will be among the three warmest on record in most of Slovenia, 24ur.com said.
STA, 25 May 2022 - Several alternative culture groups, NGOs and other initiatives called on Wednesday for a boycott of the emerging new creative centre at the location of Ljubljana's former bicycle factory Rog. They argue the city has been deaf to the proposals of the autonomous community that was evicted from Rog's dilapidated premises in 2021.
Addressing the press in front of the sizeable centre, which is being revamped in a EUR 20 million investment meant to be completed next year, the groups called for an open debate that would allow a democratic planning of the new premises.
The boycott initiative has been backed by the Autonomous Rog Factory collective, Ljubljana's counter-culture centre Metelkova Mesto, the Youth for Climate Justice, members of Radio Student, the Collective of culture workers, the anthropology department of the Faculty of Arts and several other groups.
The grievances include unsolved issues related to the police-backed eviction of Rog's users in January 2021 by the City of Ljubljana and what the protesters see as the exclusion of all but "the obedient partners of the city authorities" from the planning of the new centre.
While calling for a public discussion to exchange ideas, they pointed to alternative proposals that Rog's users already put forward in 2019 in an effort to make the centre a model for self-organisation and active participation.
One possible solution would be a cooperative-like model that would allow workers with precarious labour arrangements, the unemployed and refugees to receive training in construction work, crafts and administration.
The other would involve full autonomy, with the city committing to respecting the principle of self-organisation and the centre's users to the organisation of non-profit activities for the public good.
The protesters, who say the city has refused to discuss these options, hope for some support from new government given the size of the project.
The Rog Centre responded by saying it had been cooperating with a number of NGOs and initiatives, as the centre's development was the largest example of community planning so far.
Its programme as part of the RogLab project has been created since 2010 through a broad participative process. More than 6,000 users, 450 experts and 80 partner organisations from Slovenia and other countries have been involved so far.
"Both the interested former users and the wider public participate in conceiving the programmes, as well as its neighbours, as it is designed to be a publicly accessible space uniting very different communities. Anyone who is willing to take part can join this process at any time," Rog said.
Rog Centre is in the purview of the City of Ljubljana, which announced in April the centre would promote cultural and creative activities, especially product making, applied arts, architecture and design.
Plans include seven production labs, including for textile, wood processing, ceramics and glass, and green and culinary labs, for which there will be a membership fee similar to a library fee.
A total of 25 production units will be available free of charge based on calls for applications. The use of the facilities will be limited to three to four years. Five residential units will be available to users from abroad, the project's representatives announced.
The centre will also have a large area for socialising and exhibitions, a library and cafes. There will moreover be two smaller shops where products manufactured at the labs will be sold.
The building will have four floors and a total of 8,500 square metres. Outside the building a park will span 8,000 square metres.
STA, 24 May 2022 - A higher court ruling shows that it may prove harder than initially thought to evict the NGOs renting out the offices from the Culture Ministry in Metelkova Street in Ljubljana, which the ministry would like to renovate and give to the Museum of Natural Sciences, which is in dire need of more space.
The Ljubljana Higher Court has recently annulled the eviction order for the Centre for Slovenian Literature, a ruling the ministry plans to appeal.
The other NGOs in the same building meanwhile expect the court to pass similar rulings on their appeals against their eviction orders.
At the end of 2020, the ministry gave all tenants a year to vacate the building but did not offer them alternative offices, a plan the NGOs objected.
The ministry thus launched eviction proceedings against every individual NGO, which they separately challenged in court, Iztok Šori, director of the Peace Institute, one of the tenants, told the STA on Tuesday.
Šori labelled the ruling as "a great success and relief" for all the organisations which have been in an uncertain situation for a year and a half.
He sees it as a precedent for the rest of the NGOs there whose appeals are yet to be ruled on, and an end of the attempted eviction.
Similarly, Dino Bauk, a lawyer for the NGOs, said the case is more or less closed.
He said that most of the NGOs have a clause in their agreements under which they remain tenants until a new call to rent out the premises is published.
And since such a call has not been published, the argument that the building will be rented out to the Museum of Natural History also does not hold, Bauk explained.
The majority of lease agreements were signed with the NGOs in 1997 on the basis of a public call.
Since no new call was issued after a three-year period expired, the contracts were extended with annexes and eventually became permanent.
But the ministry has said earlier that no rental or lease agreement can be permanent, that some tenants have rented out the premises to a third party, and that some no longer meet the criteria for free-of-charge lease since they no longer have the status of an NGO in culture.
The culture community has largely seen the eviction plan as yet another of Minister Vasko Simoniti's attempts to undermine the independent culture sector.
STA, 25 May 2022 - A new multiplex cinema will open in Ljubljana on Wednesday. Located in the Supernova shopping mall in the southern borough of Rudnik, it will have seven theatres with a combined 1,357 seats.
The cinemas offer seats in various quality (standard, double-lover, VIP, VIP deluxe) and are equipped with Barco laser projectors and Dolby Atmos sound system.
The multiplex is run by the Austrian company Cineplexx, which is already the largest movie chain in Slovenia with theatres in Kranj, Koper, Novo Mesto, Maribor, Celje and Murska Sobota.
The investment totalled EUR 5.2 million. The company said last week it was convinced that it will pay off. "The multiplex will undoubtedly become the centre of film entertainment, socialising, quality leisure, inspiration and education," Cineplexx CEO Christian Langhammer said last week.
While the multiplex will open with the premiere of the Hollywood flick Top Gun: Maverick, the company says there will also be place for national and European titles.
Cineplexx Rudnik will be Ljubljana's second multiplex cinema and it opens at a time when the city's first multiplex, the ageing Kolosej complex, which opened in 2001, is struggling.
Its owner, Kolosej Kinematografi, has been in bankruptcy proceedings since 2016 and the bankruptcy administrator unsuccessfully attempted to sell it in April this year at an opening price of EUR 7.6 million.
STA, 24 May 2022 - The first case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Slovenia in a man who arrived from the Canary Islands. The patient, who developed the symptoms after arriving in Slovenia, is doing well, the country's chief epidemiologist Mario Fafangel told the press on Tuesday.
Fafangel said Slovenia thus joined 16 other countries where the virus has been confirmed. International institutions, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), have already been notified, he said.
He stressed the monkeypox virus is not new and that unlike in the case of Covid its spreading could be stopped and had been stopped in several African countries in the past.
The risks for the broader society associated with the infection have been estimated as low by the WHO and the ECDC, he said.
According to Fafangel, contact tracing has been under way but no quarantine is envisaged for contacts, as a person can spread the disease only after they develop symptoms.
Tatjana Avšič Zupanc of the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology said their lab dealing with exotic viruses had been informed of suspected monkeypox infection in Slovenia yesterday afternoon.
She said the lab had prepared protocols for the monkeypox virus as it started spreading in other countries earlier this month.
The diagnosis was confirmed with three PCR tests, she said, adding that the sample was now being sequenced to determine its nucleotide sequence.
Out of the two variants of the virus - the west African and central African - the former, which has been spreading recently, is milder. The man in Slovenia is infected with this variant, Avšič Zupanc confirmed.
UKC Ljubljana Department of Infectious Diseases, Tatjana Lejko Zupanc said no major complications were expected with infection with this version. However, the disease might pose a greater risk to persons with compromised immune system, pregnant women and small children.
The infected man is not hospitalised, Lejko Zupanc said.
Infected persons are recommended to stay at home and avoid close contact with risky groups as well as with their pets for three weeks or until their scabs fall off, she said. If the person is going out they should wear a facemask.
Heath workers wear similar protective equipment as with Covid when dealing with infected patients, she noted.
Currently, two vaccines are available to prevent the disease; one is the smallpox vaccine, which is also effective against monkeypox, and the other which is registered for monkeypox as well as smallpox.
Lejko Zupanc said that at this point it would perhaps make sense to vaccinate lab workers. Talks on the supply of a vaccine, if it were needed, are under way.
One medication is registered for treating monkeypox - tecovirimat, which is not available in Europe at the moment, but talks are under way for small quantities if they were needed, she said. An alternative medication, cidofovir, is already available.
Mojca Gobec, head of the sector for prevention of disease and injuries at the Health Ministry, said the ministry was monitoring the situation and would adopt measures if necessary.
Experts have already proposed that monkeypox be included on the list of occupational diseases, which will enable its monitoring and better communication with international organisations, she said.
STA, 24 May 2022 - A procedure has been launched for the coastal town Lucija (Lucy) in the Piran municipality to be given back its original name Sveta Lucija (Saint Lucy), which was changed in the 1950s as part of postwar efforts to remove religious elements from toponyms.
Piran municipal councillors tasked at Monday's session Mayor Đenio Zadković to start activities to rename the town after several initiatives had been filed, including by municipal councillors of the Italian community, Democrats' (SDS) councillor Vojko Jevševar and the council of the Lucija local community.
The Piran mayor had also commissioned a survey, which pollster Mediana conducted among 135 locals. It turned out that they are in favour of the name change and are very familiar with the history of the town's name and initiatives for the name change.
However, things did not go smoothly at yesterday's session, as Gabrijel Franca from the Movement for the Piran Municipality proposed the issue be removed from the agenda and discussed after the financial consequences of the move are assessed.
Italian community councillor Manuela Rojec explained that, as the procedure was launched, all the documents, including the assessment Franca demanded, would be presented.
Another councillor representing the Italian community, Andrea Bartole, said this was no whim and that the cost of the name change would be minimal.
"This is not a name change but restoring of the historical name," he said, noting that the name Sveta Lucija had been documented as early as in the 13th century and that the town had been renamed Lucija after the Second World War by the regime.
Restoring the original name of the town would be a sign of reconciliation with history, he said.
Davorin Petaros from the Movement for the Piran Municipality said Bartole was forging history, while calls for a referendum on the issue could also be heard.
Eventually it was decided that a consultative referendum will be held along with the upcoming local election in the Lucija area, while activities for the name change which the councillors agreed on will meanwhile be under way.
STA, 24 May 2022 - Russian activist group Pussy Riot will perform at the Lesbian Quarter festival in Ljubljana on Thursday, in what the organiser ŠKUC Association dubbed as one of the highlights. The festival will focus on lesbian future, which in a heteronormative and patriarchal society must be understood as "a radically impossible utopia".
The Russian punk band came to global fame following their February 2012 gig at Moscow's main cathedral drawing the public's attention to the Orthodox Church's support for President Vladimir Putin. All three members of the band were later sentenced to prison over the gig.
The 8th Lesbian Quarter is opening on Tuesday with an evening of post-2008 short films at the Slovenian Cinematheque.
The films bring accounts of activists about their efforts, while also representing a guerilla response to lesbophobia, lesbian invisibility, and violence and discrimination in Slovenia.
Several workshops, including about storytelling and digital activism, will be organised alongside a panel discussion to mark 35 years of the Slovenian lesbian movement.
The Lesbian Quarter will close with Saturday's party accompanying a new edition of the Lezbozin bulletin and with Sunday's Astro-brunch.
Tickets for Pussy Riot can be bought here
STA, 23 May - The Supreme Court has annulled the 15-month suspended sentence handed out to a confectioner from Hoče for baking THC-laced cookies for a health inspector back in August 2017 and offering them to customers. The court said that it had not been proven in the trial that Nik Štekar had known that the cookies contained THC, the newspaper Večer reports.
Štekar was sentenced to the suspended prison sentence with a probation period of two years by the Maribor District Court in March 2020 as he served the cookies to four of his regular but unsuspecting customers.
He allegedly baked the cookies for Zlatko Babič, a retired health inspector and fellow resident of Hoče near Maribor, while he was not informed of the nature of the butter Babič provided as part of a cookie baking request.
Štekar reportedly baked roughly a kilo of cookies with the THC-laced butter, keeping a share of the product for himself and offering it at one point to four guests without a warning.
Two of the guests - one said he had had ten pieces - ended up in hospital to be diagnosed with THC poisoning.
The verdict was upheld by the Maribor Higher Court, with the newspaper Delo reporting at the time that the judges said that an explanation different than that he had known about the content of the cookies could not be accepted.
They noted that Štekar had told the guests, who later had to seek medical attention, that there was nothing hazardous in the cookies, which was an unusual thing to say when food is served in an establishment where food was supposed to be harmless.
Štekar's defence turned to the Supreme Court, which has recently ruled that it had not been proven in the trial that Štekar had known that the cookies contained THC, Večer reported on Monday.
Annulling the rulings of the district and higher courts, the Supreme Court said a retrial should be held before a different judge, so the file has been handed to Mateja Kamenšek Gornik, the newspaper added.
When the new judge asked the defendant last week if he would defend himself, he said that he had already said everything he had to say.
Večer notes that Babič explained in the first trial that he had asked the confectioner if he would bake him cookies with THC, and that Štekar had agreed to this. Babič confirmed this last week when he appeared in court as a witness.
The trial will continue on 21 June, the newspaper adds.
STA, 21 May 2022 - A survey by a student employment agency has found that the student work market has changed significantly in recent years for many reasons, and almost half of students would now like to perform hybrid work. Most of them expect a monthly wage of up to EUR 1,000 in their first job.
The survey carried out among 1,012 young people this month was presented by Vesna Miloševič Zupančič of e-Študentski Servis at a recent event in Ljubljana on shortened working time.
It showed that 43% of the respondents would like to perform hybrid work (remote work, work at the employer's seat and field work), 29% said they would work only at the employer's seat, 23% would work only remotely and 4% only do field work.
Around 40% of the respondents said it would be difficult for them to afford studying without student work, 21% said this was partly true and 38% said that this was not the case.
When it comes to the monthly net wage for the first employment, most of the respondents (41%) said up to EUR 1,000, 38% said up to EUR 1,500, 12% up to EUR 757.56 (minimum wage), 6% up to EUR 2,000, and 3% more than EUR 2,000.
Almost half of the students want a standard work schedule of five days a week and eight hours a day, and 27% would like to work part-time (various combinations, including a four-day working week).
Some 6% would like to perform project work (for example, more than eight hours a day, then several months off), and 14% do not think about this yet. It is notable that as many as 59% still want employment on a regular basis.
Miloševič Zupančič rejected the notion that young people do not want to work, noting that two-thirds of young people in Slovenia perform student work for an average of nine hours a week, earning EUR 200 euros a month on average.
She said that young jobseekers had changed greatly in recent years, that young people knew their labour rights and knew how to stand up for themselves, while the reputation of the employer was also important to them.
Young people are becoming increasingly interested in professional work and work related to their education, they look for work that brings important competences, lead to regular employment, and is important for their career development, she added.
They are generally digitally literate and prefer to communicate digitally, they adapt quickly to changes in the labour market, speak multiple languages, and pick jobs more strategically.
On the other hand, they are not always responsive, they spend a lot of time on their phones, they sometimes fail to show up to work, they give up quickly and are used to being serviced and entertained, Milošević Zupančič said.
The student work market has also changed. Demand is high while the number of eligible students has dropped by a third compared to ten years ago - due to demographics, legislative restrictions and students focusing on their studies.
In addition, student work has been significantly more expensive since 2015, with the minimum hourly rate set at EUR 5.21 net, and with EUR 100 in net earning for a student costing the employer EUR 167.06 due to various contributions.
STA, 20 May 2022 - Young and beekeeping will be in the focus as World Bee Day is celebrated in Slovenia for the fifth year running on Friday after the UN declared it in 2017 on Slovenia's initiative to raise awareness about honeybees and other pollinators for agriculture, food safety and biodiversity.
The topic coincides with the 2022 European Year of Youth, with the Agriculture Ministry noting the role of transfer of know-how for the future of beekeeping.
The Beekeeping Association says it is important to raise awareness about bees being endangered and about what communities and individuals should to do preserve them.
Apimondia vice president Peter Kozmus thus urges planting native honey plants, mowing flowering plants after flowering, buying honey and other bee products from the nearest beekeepers and reducing the use of pesticides that are harmful to bees.
"When we help bees, we help other organisms as well as people," says Kozmus, adding that bees and people need practically the same conditions to thrive: clean air and a healthy environment without pollution.
A number of events will be held to mark World Bee Day, with one of them being an awards ceremony to give out Slovenia's top international award for outstanding achievement in beekeeping; the Golden Bee Prize will be conferred the second time.
Its first recipient - scientist Lucas Alejandro Garibaldi from Argentina, will meanwhile attend the main World Bee Day event, to be held on Saturday in Dolenjske Toplice, south-east, as part of the 19th Beekeeping Festival.
Slovenia is best known for its Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica), but is home to more than 500 species of wild bees.
Statistics show that there were over 11,290 beekeepers in Slovenia in October 2020, who produced some 1,300 tonnes of honey.
World Bee Day is celebrated on 20 May to remember the day in 1734 when Anton Janša, the Slovenian credited with being the pioneer of modern beekeeping, was born.
The Beekeeping Association's head Boštjan Noč is convinced the message of World Bee Day is being successfully spread: "Today, the world talks respectfully of bees, beekeepers and all that goes with them."
This year's main international event marking the day will be the Food and Agriculture Organization's conference Bee Engaged: Celebrating the Diversity of Bees and Beekeeping Systems.
STA, 17 May 2022 - Five Slovenian MEPs have sent a public letter to Austria and the European Commission criticising the recent decision of Austria to again extend police controls on the border with Slovenia, labelling the move as unjustified and disproportionate. They argue that this is confirmed by the valid EU law and the recent decision of the EU court.
The letter signed by Irena Joveva, Klemen Grošelj (both Renew/LMŠ), Milan Brglez (S&D/SD), Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) and Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS) is addressed to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner and Ylva Johansson as the competent European commissioner.
It notes that Slovenia was more than appropriately addressing the challenges in irregular migration, possible terrorist threats and trafficking in human beings.
The functioning Schengen Area poses no threat to Austria, while border control severely restricts freedom of movement, the letter says, adding that there were no new threats to justify the decision.
According to the five Slovenian MEPs, the subsequent six-month extensions of internal border control since 2015 have not been in line with the EU rules.
They have urged the Austrian government to reconsider its intention to renew control on the EU's internal border, and asked the Commission to issue an opinion about the necessity or proportionality of the decision of the Austrian authorities.
The MEPs noted that reintroducing internal border control should be a measure of last resort and that alternative measures for internal border control should be sought.
The Commission told the STA that the relevant ruling of the EU Court of Justice clarified the rules applied for temporary reintroduction of internal border control. A preliminary ruling says the matter must now be decided by a national court.
It added that it was working with the EU member states to end the continued reintroduction of internal border control in close technical and political dialogue.
The Commission is also ready to work with the European Parliament and the Council to address the issue in the ongoing negotiations on updating the Schengen Borders Code, it added.
In April, the EU Court of Justice said that a Schengen Area member state could reintroduce border control in the event of a serious threat to its public order or internal security, but should not exceed the maximum total duration of six months.
It may reintroduce the measure immediately after the end of this six-month period, but only if it faces a new serious threat that is different from the one originally identified.
Austria notified the Commission last week that it would extend control on its borders with Hungary and Slovenia for at least six months. The war in Ukraine was cited among the reasons for the decisions this time.