29 Jun 2022, 16:30 PM

STA, 29 June 2022 - After her predecessor launched proceedings for the eviction of several NGOs renting out the Culture Ministry's premises in Ljubljana's Metelkova Street, Asta Vrečko, the new culture minister, announced on Wednesday that the procedures would be terminated. The ministry has also cancelled plans to give the premises to the Museum of Natural Sciences.

Vrečko told the press after a meeting with the affected independent producers and organisations that her predecessor Vasko Simoniti and the previous government had pursued a fairly hateful discourse targeting NGOs.

While the ministry is aware of the infrastructure issues of the Museum of Natural Sciences, the ministry noted the building at Metelkova 6 had from the very start been intended for NGOs and that it needed to stay this way.

Vrečko announced the court proceedings meant to secure the eviction of 18 NGOs and six libraries would be terminated as soon as possible. Talks will probably also start in the summer on a much needed renovation of the building.

The director of the Peace Institute Iztok Šorli said on behalf of the users that today's meeting inspired optimism. He expects the new government to secure better conditions for NGOs in Slovenia when it comes to infrastructure.

29 Jun 2022, 12:50 PM

STA, 29 June 2022 - MPs rejected on Wednesday the Democrats' (SDS) motion for a referendum on the opposition party's own legislative proposal to scrap the compulsory subscription fee for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija. Also voted down was the SDS's proposal to have the government as opposed to parliament appoint the state's supervisors at the STA.

The RTVS motion for a consultative referendum, put forward with the argument that the broadcaster had lost up to 250,000 viewers in the past decade and that people should decide on their own if and how much subscription to pay, was rejected in a 54:28 vote.

While the SDS and the fellow opposition New Slovenia (NSi) argued the EUR 12.75 monthly fee was higher in Slovenia than in some other European countries and the efficacy of RTVS poorer, the Culture Ministry warned the changes sentinelled significant financial consequences and would prevent the provision of information in line with public interest.

The government labelled the referendum proposal unacceptable, saying the aim of the idea's proponents was to financially ruin the public broadcaster.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly also rejected the SDS's proposal for changes to the act on the Slovenian Press Agency (STA).

In line with the changes, the government and no longer parliament would appoint four of the STA's supervisors, while the changes would also affect rules governing the agency's income from copyrighted photos.

MPs voted 54:22 against the proposal, with the coalition arguing that it ran counter to its commitment for changes to media legislation that would reduce political influence, boost the independence of public media and secure stable funding for content that is in public interest.

The government had moreover argued that the proposal was not based on studies concerning the agency's execution of its public service and market activities and lacked an assessment of the impact, especially on the STA's financial situation.

A number of other opposition-filed legislation proposals were rejected in parliament today, including an SDS motion addressing rules on the awarding of public licences to pharmacies deemed unconstitutional in some respects by the Constitutional Court.

28 Jun 2022, 16:30 PM

STA, 28 June 2022 - The Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal by former PM Janez Janša against the statute barring of the Patria defence deal bribery case. While Janša felt denied a chance to prove his innocence, the top court claims he had no legal interest, as statute barring is fully equivalent to an acquittal, meaning he is considered innocent.

Janša, whose 2013 conviction for bribery in a 2006 tender won by Finnish defence contractor Patria was quashed by the Constitutional Court in April 2015 and sent into retrial that later became statute barred, published the ruling on Tuesday.

He wrote on Twitter that "After more than 15 years of the Patria saga the caricature of Slovenian rule of law ended with the pronouncement of innocence".

Janša, who had already spent 145 days in jail before a retrial was ordered, had appealed the 2016 Supreme Court ruling, which had upheld the view of the Higher Court from November 2015 that Janša could not appeal a decision that was in his favour.

The Supreme Court also argued that statute barring the case, involving a deal worth EUR 278 million and Janša's alleged accepting of a promise of a bribe for which no direct evidence was presented, is fully equivalent to an acquittal or a case dismissal.

Moreover, while nodding to Janša about the case actually falling under the statute later than claimed by the first instance court in September 2015, the Supreme Court argued this would still have happened before a retrial could end and would thus change nothing.

Janša meanwhile claimed violations had occurred of the articles of the constitution on equal protection of rights, the right to justice, the right to a remedy and the principle of legality in criminal law.

28 Jun 2022, 11:49 AM

STA, 27 June 2022 - The coronavirus pandemic and new legislation related to absenteeism have exacerbated a little discussed issue that the public health insurance fund says demands urgent attention. Faced with a continuing rise in the share and amount of sick leave costs it is having to bear, the ZZZS is urging change, in particular for long-term absences.

While the healthcare spotlight has mostly been on the long waiting lines for treatments and the debate on how much privatisation should be tolerated in the sector, the ZZZS has seen absenteeism costs born by it rise from EUR 225 million in 2013 to EUR 315 million in 2017, then to EUR 442 million in 2020 and to EUR 498 million in 2021.

The figures recorded by June have the ZZZS speaking of the possibility of exceeding EUR 700 million this year, which is partly the result of pandemic restrictions that continued into this year and legislative changes introduced last year.

The changes shortened the number of sick leave days covered by employers from the first 30 days to the first 20 days, which means the ZZZS shoulders the costs sooner. What is more, the maximum number of sick leave days in a year covered by employers has been reduced from 120 to 80 days. Anything beyond that is borne by the ZZZS.

A look at 2021 shows employers covering a total 807,278 sick leave absences amounting to 5,745,668 days, while the ZZZS bore the costs of 551,539 absences totalling 8,438,690 days.

The share of work days lost to sickness in the total number of work days rose by 0.6 percentage points in 2021 to 5.1%, with the share covered by the ZZZS rising from 2.6% to 3%.

While the average duration of absence due to sickness or injury was about 11 days in the past two years, the ZZZS had to cover all the costs stemming from mandatory isolation due to the epidemic.

The fund is meanwhile noting costs will also continue to rise because of the relatively high employment rate, later retirement, the absence of a cap on the number of paid sick leave days, and the lacking coordination of procedures ascertaining temporary and permanent work disability.

The ZZZS argues Slovenia's legislation governing long-term sick leave absences is at odds with those in modern European countries, "where the duration of sick leave is usually limited to one year".

Highlighting ongoing absences that began as far back as 2009, it notes that the tendency to continue extending absences due to sickness or injury as opposed to applying for disability status is also driven by compensation in the former case being higher.

The ZZZS says the aim of future systemic measures should be to preserve the working capacity of insured persons. The key challenges include rapid reintegration in the work process, which can be achieved with effective vocational rehabilitation, workplace adaptation, earlier and more active involvement of employers and the occupational health profession.

The fund sees the need to reorganise the right to sick leave compensation in a way comparable to other European countries, to raise awareness with workers about their responsibility for their health and with employers about the need for a safe and healthy working environment.

It demands a reform of disability legislation to speed up procedures, adequate disability benefits, a shift from focusing on the incapacity for work towards finding and recognising the work capacity that remains, and for a boosting of rehabilitation efforts.

28 Jun 2022, 11:28 AM

STA, 28 June 2022 - Marta Kos, vice-president of the Freedom Movement, has officially announced her bid for the presidency of the republic. She will run as her party's candidate and hopes the two coalition partners will endorse her as well. 

The first of the candidates so far to run with the support of a parliamentary party, Kos said she was "proud to be a representative of the progressive forces that restored people's dignity and hope for the future after two difficult years of backwardness."

"I will be proud if I can continue to be a voice of a civil society that swears by solidarity, the common good, and civic courage," she said, adding that she would proudly represent Slovenia and restore its reputation in Europe and in international relations.

"We know what bothers, confuses and frightens us. The uncertain situation, the grating times, the cruel war. But we also know what we are capable of doing and how to win, we know how to be proud of a job well done, to trust in cooperation, gentle kindness as well as solidarity," she said.

Kos said she would be different than the incumbent, Borut Pahor, who has decided not to be a moral authority.

The party's president, Prime Minister Robert Golob, said it was time to "change how the office of the president is performed".

"We need a president who knows how to act as a moral compass ... we want a president who can tell what is right and what is wrong, regardless of who is in power; even if I am in power, we want the president as a corrective of the executive branch," according to Golob, who added it was high time for Slovenia to get a female president.

Born in 1965, Kos used to work as a TV journalist, including as foreign correspondent from Germany, before she led the Government Communications Office under the Janez Drnovšek government in 1997-1999, whereupon she first worked for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and then as a business coach.

In 2013 she was named ambassador to Germany and in 2017 she became the ambassador to Switzerland, a post from which she resigned in 2020 due to differences in views with the Janez Janša government.

Since then she has worked as a business coach in Switzerland, where she met her current partner.

When announcing her candidacy today, Kos expressed hope that the coalition partners Social Democrats (SD) and the Left would support her, but the parties have since said that they would be putting forward their own candidates.

SD head Tanja Fajon said the party would be discussing the presidential election on Monday, adding that given the party's history, tradition and its network it was only appropriate to run with a candidate of its own.

Matej Tašner Vatovec, the deputy group leader of the Left, meanwhile said that internal candidacy procedures were underway and that the party would announce its candidate once these were completed.

Kos is the third candidate to formally make the announcement after lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar and psychoanalyst Nina Krajnik. Siol news portal reported today that Anže Logar, the former foreign minister, will enter the race as well.

Moreover, musician Gregor Bezenšek, who runs a charitable foundation collecting funds for children requiring expensive treatments abroad, said today he will be announcing his candidacy next week.

 Quizzed about remarks that both her and Pirc Musar were targeting the same group of voters, Kos said that she respected all candidates. "We can all contribute to what has been lacking in Slovenia in recent years - political culture."

Indications that Kos would enter the race have led Milan Kučan, the formed president who endorsed Pirc Musar, to say it is not good if a single party controls the most important posts in the country.

Golob said these concerns were misguided. "I respect Mr. Kučan, but sometimes even he will put his foot in his mouth," he said.

27 Jun 2022, 15:44 PM

STA, 27 June 2022 - Nina Krajnik, a philosopher and psychoanalyst, has announced she is entering the presidential race. She will run as an independent but will accept endorsement by like-minded political parties.

 "I am making it official and public. I will run for president of the republic in the autumn election," the 37-year-old told the press on Monday.

Krajnik says her politics is different since she is creating space for "everybody's truth and desire."

Lawyer Pirc Musar Will Enter Autumn's Presidential Election

She says people who would vote for her are neither left nor right but "can open their eyes to social reality" and "do not buy into diverse attempts at brainwashing."

Her desire is to connect people. "If we do not stand together during crisis, we are never together."

Krajnik has received endorsement from prominent conservative figures including former Constitutional Court judges Peter Jambrek, who she said "opened her eyes to the candidacy," and Jože Jerovšek.

The author Gabriela Babnik Outarra, ski jumper Lovro Kos and physicist Bojan Kambrič have endorsed her as well.

The spouse of Moravče Mayor Milan Balažic, Krajnik has not had much of a public profile until a recent TV interview during which she attacked the 1990s left for having privatised public property.

"Privatisers" is also how she recently described on Twitter two other candidates for president, Marta Kos and Nataša Pirc Musar.

After the interview, many prominent figures on the right started elevating her public profile on social media.

Krajnik holds a PhD in philosophy and an MA in cultural studies. She is currently head of a department of Lacanian psychoanalysis at the University of Sigmund Freud - Ljubljana.

One newspaper commentator recently described her as the first proper alt-right candidate in Slovenia.

25 Jun 2022, 10:11 AM

What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 17 June
        BRUSSELS, Belgium/OHRID, North Macedonia - PM Robert Golob said he would propose that Bosnia and Herzegovina be granted EU candidate status at the next EU summit. He acknowledged that a single member state can prevent this process, but hopes reason will prevail.
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry said Slovenia would pay legal expenses to Croatia over its border arbitration-related lawsuit against Croatia before the EU Court of Justice, which rendered the lawsuit inadmissible. The ministry said Slovenia saw this issue as part of the procedure to implement the 2017 border arbitration award.
        NEW YORK, US - International law expert Vasilka Sancin failed to get re-elected for another four-year term on the UN Human Rights Committee. She said her bid failed because the former government blocked her nomination, so her candidacy was submitted as the last one, in early June, almost two months after the 6 April deadline.
        LJUBLJANA - The coalition parties filed to parliament changes to the communicable diseases act that will make the country's efforts to fight infectious diseases in line with the constitution after the top court ruled a year ago Article 39 unconstitutional, giving the National Assembly two months to remedy the situation.
        LJUBLJANA - Irena Vodopivec Jean, one of the three vice-governors of Banka Slovenije, asked the parliament to be relieved of her duties for personal reasons. Her term would have expired in October 2027.
        LJUBLJANA - Legendary illustrator and painter Marlenka Stupica, best known for her illustrations of world classics such as Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Mehurčki, the collection of children's poetry by Oton Župančič (1878-1949), died aged 94.

SUNDAY, 19 June
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia produced a proposal to grant Bosnia-Herzegovina EU candidate status as early as at the next EU summit. Under the proposal, Bosnia would have to adopt the laws set out in the political agreement reached by Bosnian political parties at talks in Brussels a week ago before accession talks could start.
        NOVO MESTO - Slovenia's star rider Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the 28th Tour of Slovenia to defend the title from last year. The 23-year-old two-time Tour of France winner finished the race, which he sees as a good rehearsal before the upcoming Tour de France, ahead of his Polish teammate Rafal Majka, with Slovenia's Domen Novak (Bahrain-Victorius) finishing third.
        LJUBLJANA - As owners of motor vehicles headed for service stations en masse ahead of expected price hikes all three major fuels providers, Petrol, OMV and MOL, experienced occasional fuel shortages. Economy Minister Matjaž Han assured the public the next day the country had sufficient reserves of fuel, while PM Robert Golob said this was a scandal.

MONDAY, 20 June
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Slovenia's proposal that the EU should grant Bosnia EU candidate status as soon as possible received a great deal of support and, above all, a great deal of understanding among EU foreign ministers, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said after she outlined it to her counterparts at a session of the Foreign Affairs Council.
        RIGA, Latvia - President Borut Pahor urged the leaders of Three Seas EU countries to endorse Slovenia's proposal at the EU summit later this week to give Bosnia the status of EU candidate country, as he addressed the summit of the Three Seas initiative in Latvia.
TUESDAY, 21 June
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia donated 35 Yugoslav-era armoured combat vehicles to Ukraine. In return, Slovenia is to receive a credit from the US to be used for equipment needed by the Slovenian Armed Forces in their operations.
        LJUBLJANA - The prices of petrol and diesel at service stations along Slovenian motorways became completely deregulated under the new fuel pricing model, which pushed them up by roughly 20 cents a litre compared to those at stations outside the motorway network, which are now fully regulated.
        LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency launched an investigation into whether Petrol and OMV Slovenija, the country's two largest fuel retailers, abused their dominant market position as fuel shortages occurred right before a new pricing regime kicked in, raising fuel prices.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary EU and foreign affairs committees outlined Slovenia's foreign policy for the future, with PM Robert Golob saying after the closed session that Bosnia-Herzegovina should get immediate EU candidate status and that Slovenia would help Ukraine with demining in the future.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon spoke over the telephone with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba assuring him of Slovenia's support for Ukraine's EU candidate status and the country's post-war reconstruction. She also announced that she would visit Kyiv soon.
        LJUBLJANA - The new police commissioner sacked two high-ranking police force members who have reportedly been involved in a contentious hiring of an employee in which security check results had been falsified.
        LJUBLJANA - The management of energy company Petrol said fuel price regulation in Slovenia and Croatia would affect Petrol's business in the first half of the year, so the Slovenian group did not expect to achieve the planned results.
        LJUBLJANA - After rejecting the candidacy of RTV Slovenija journalist Urban Laurenčič for the position of director of TV Slovenija (TVS), the public broadcaster's TV arm, the RTV programme council endorsed the appointment of music advisor Patrik Greblo as TVS acting director.
        LJUBLJANA - Two European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) will be set up in Slovenia, the European Commission decided upon evaluating applications in the first call of the DIGITAL Europe Programme.

        LJUBLJANA/KYIV, Ukraine - Prime Minister Robert Golob had his first conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with the talk focusing on the status of EU candidate country that is expected to be given to Ukraine. Golob assured the Ukrainian president that although there had been a change of government in Slovenia, the country's attitude towards Ukraine had not changed.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the government act allowing Prime Minister Robert Golob to shape his government as he wants as it deflected an attempt by the opposition Democrats (SDS) to hold a referendum on the act. A new referendum motion may however be initiated by a group with close ties to the SDS.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor said the Russian aggression against Ukraine had confirmed the need for Slovenia to have a highly trained and professional army, as he addressed via video call Slovenian soldiers serving in missions.
        LJUBLJANA - The works council at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija urged director general Andrej Grah Whatmough to "step down immediately and irrevocably", presenting a number of reasons for its decision, taken a day after RTV staff went on strike as the talks following the 23 May strike brought no major progress.
        LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore expressed the wish for a continuation of the dialogue between the state and the Roman Catholic Church as he berated previous governments for not showing willingness to address all open issues during a sermon at a mass celebrating the anniversary of Slovenian statehood.
        LJUTOMER - A multi-stakeholder commission for cereals proposed that the government purchase all wheat Slovenian farmers will harvest this year, and then sell it on to millers. Slovenian farmers will grow 100,000 tonnes of wheat and they would reportedly like to sell it to Slovenian millers, but if the price is not right, they will sell to whoever is willing to pay more.
        BRUSSELS - While Slovenia did not succeed with its proposal that Bosnia-Herzegovina be granted EU candidate status along with Ukraine and Moldova at the EU summit, Prime Minister Robert Golob said an "important step" has nevertheless been made since the country has been put back on the EU's agenda and given a rough timeline on when it could get the status.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Justice Committee unanimously endorsed a draft declaration on the European Parliament's resolution on fighting impunity for war crimes in Ukraine, which was tabled by the opposition Democrats (SDS) and endorsed by the government the previous day.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted two regulations to temporarily abolish two environmental duties on diesel at service stations on the motorway network, where prices are fully liberalised, to help hauliers cope with the price hike.
        LJUBLJANA - The government changed a regulation laying down the cooperation between the police and the prosecution and other bodies in pre-trial procedure, abolishing a restriction that allowed prosecutors to communicate their orders to the police only in written form. The restriction was put in place by the previous government.
        LJUBLJANA - The government replaced members of the supervisory boards of nine hospitals due to the institutions' poor financial performance. It also ordered a special audit to see how they continue to post losses despite receiving hundreds of millions of euros in extra funding last year.
        LJUBLJANA - Lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar, best known in her former role as information commissioner, announced she would enter the presidential race in the autumn election as an independent, becoming the first candidate to formally announce her bid.
        LJUBLJANA - Checks carried out by market inspectors at service stations across Slovenia in the aftermath of severe fuel shortages have not produced indications that fuel retailers intentionally kept supplies low to take advantage of higher prices after the transition to a new price regulation model.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission said it had opened an in-depth investigation to assess Hungarian energy group MOL's purchase of service stations of OMV Slovenija, the second largest such network in Slovenia, over concerns that the takeover would severely reduce competition on the Slovenian retail motor fuel market.

25 Jun 2022, 10:04 AM

STA, 25 June 2022 - Slovenia celebrates Statehood Day on Saturday, marking 31 years since the country declared independence from the former Yugoslavia. A number of events and celebrations were held across the country last night to mark the occasion, with President Borut Pahor addressing the main ceremony in Ljubljana.

Before the ceremony late on Friday evening, President Pahor held the annual reception for the families of those who had fallen or been injured in the 10-day war that followed Slovenia's independence declaration.

He also laid a wreath at the monument to the victims of all wars in Congress Square, underlining that the courageous people who gave their lives for an independent Slovenia will never be forgotten.

Preserving peace is the most important mission of all, said the president, noting that the war in Ukraine was a clear reminder that peace cannot be taken for granted.

Addressing the main ceremony in Congress Square, he noted that more than 30 years ago "we, Slovenians, were capable to create the conditions to establish our own country". There are many challenges that the country faces today, including the sustainable, green and digital transition, but if there will be unity and solidarity, Slovenia can achieve anything, he said.

It is a respected country in the international community and one of the safest countries in the world, the president pointed out, adding that just as Slovenia was ready to meet challenges more than 30 years ago, it is ready to do the same now.

"Slovenia will help Ukraine as much as it can together with allied countries and will not let it down," he said, noting how important it was to achieve "a just peace" in Ukraine.

In the current situation, Slovenia "needs to further strengthen all the elements of statehood, democracy, its institutions and, of course, its values" and it needs to ensure that "the usual political differences do not escalate into dangerous political divisions".

He also noted that the country should help make the EU stronger, while making sure it preserves its own identity.

In addition to the Guard of the Slovenian Armed Forces and the flag-bearers of the army and the police, the ceremony once again featured flag-bearers from all veteran, independence and patriotic organisations after this was not the case in the past two years. In 2020 they were all excluded, ostensibly, due to Covid restrictions, and in 2021 the flag-bearers of the WWII veteran organisation NOB were not invited to attend.

Prime Minister Robert Golob could not attend yesterday's ceremony since he was still in Brussels for his first EU summit, but he attended a reception for Slovenians working in European institutions to mark Statehood Day.

In his message dedicated to this public holiday he extended congratulations to all citizens, underlining that strength lies in unity. Times are hard, but just the fact of knowing that "we can overcome any obstacle if we work together gives us hope for a brighter and better future".

More than three decades ago, Slovenians decided to live in a society governed by the rule of law and democracy, and a society in which everybody will be able to live a dignified life, he said.

"Looking back today, we can proudly say that we not only preserved independence and sovereignty, but we also became proud and equal members of a wider European family," Golob said at the sidelines of the EU summit on Friday.

Before the main ceremony, the National Assembly and the National Council, the lower and upper chambers of parliament, each held a ceremonial session to mark the holiday.

National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič said that the many divisions faced by Slovenia were unnecessary and so were perpetual quests for a new or one's own truth, which can never be absolute.

"How nice it would be if we embraced our history such as it is, and the diversity of the Slovenian nation in its entirety. This should make us strong, not divide us ... we don't have to deny a part of history, and it would not be right. But we also don't have to play the victim."

National Council President Alojz Kovšca said in his address that Statehood Day was a holiday that unified all Slovenians without exception. He believes the celebrations of last night were an opportunity to show through actions political correctness and mutual respect.

"Only empowered and enlightened leaders know how and are capable of overcoming political divisions which undermine people's trust and basic values, such as tolerance, harmony and peace." These values will forever remain a key part of Slovenian identity, he believes.

Today, President Pahor will decorate Ludvik Toplak, a former university rector, for his contribution to Slovenia's independence efforts, and Roberto Battelli, a former MP for the Italian minority, for his contribution to the development of Slovenia's democracy and efforts dedicated to the Italian community in Slovenia, the president's office said.

Pahor will also hold an open day at the Presidential Palace in honour of Statehood Day.

23 Jun 2022, 13:44 PM

STA, 23 June 2022 - Lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar, best known in her former role as information commissioner, has announced she will enter the presidential race in the autumn election as an independent, becoming the first candidate to formally announce her bid.

"For several years I've had this desire to do something in Slovenian society and politics and the role of president would fit like a glove," she told the press on Thursday.

"I've done a lot in life and am currently at the peak of my powers. I'm 54 years old, I may as well do something for Slovenia," the self-described liberal said.

Pirc Musar, who has long had a prominent presence in the media and on social media as a commentator of current affairs, is convinced that the president of the republic must state their opinion "loud an clear," in particular in difficult times.

She says she had been invited to enter politics on several occasions in the past but does not see herself in the executive branch given the need to "make rotten compromises."

Given that she has worked her whole life on human rights and the foundations of the rule of law, she thinks the presidential office is a great fit.

To run as an independent, Pirc Musar must collect 5,000 voter signatures. While she plans to formally run as an independent in any case, she says she is not averse to discussing receiving support from political parties.

Her candidacy has so far been backed by more than a dozen prominent individuals, including former presidents Milan Kučan and Danilo Türk.

Holding a degree in law, Pirc Musar started her career in TV and worked as a journalist and news anchor for more than a decade.

She briefly did PR in the corporate sector and the public sector between 2001 and 2004, when she was elected Information Commissioner, a position she held for two terms.

In 2014 she became an attorney at law and has had her own law firm since.

While Pirc Musar is the first person to announce a run for the presidency, the ruling Freedom Movement have tentatively picked their candidate as well, former diplomat Marta Kos.

Media have mentioned several other potential candidates in recent days, including Miro Cerar, a former prime minister, and Ivo Vajgl, a former foreign minister.

The incumbent, Borut Pahor, is term-limited.

22 Jun 2022, 10:09 AM

STA, 21 June 2022 - The parliamentary EU and foreign affairs committees outlined on Tuesday Slovenia's foreign policy for the future. Following the closed session, Prime Minister Robert Golob said Bosnia-Herzegovina should get immediate EU candidate status and that Slovenia would help Ukraine with demining in the future.

Talking to the press, Golob said that the proposal for Ukraine and Moldova to become EU candidate countries was a clear message to the two countries that they can count on EU membership. He believes that Bosnia-Herzegovina deserves to receive the same message from the EU Summit this week.

"This is the first time that the European Commission did not use a technocratic approach," Golob also said. Today, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon also advocated this course of action for Bosnia-Herzegovina at the foreign affairs ministerial in Luxembourg.

Last week immediate candidate status for Bosnia was proposed by President Borut Pahor in a letter to EU Council President Charles Michel, while Golob advocated for it during his first visit to Brussels as PM, when he met with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Michel.

The two committees approved today a decision advising the EU Council to perform an in-depth discussion on the Western Balkans when in session later this week.

Moreover, some 20 MEPs appealed to EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola to support the proposal. The move was spearheaded by MEP Matjaž Nemec (S&D/SD), who succeeded Fajon in EU Parliament when she became foreign minister some three weeks ago.

Nemec expressed belief that Metsola will convey a clear message of support for immediate candidate status for Bosnia at the EU Summit. Apart from him, the appeal was also signed by Slovenian MEPs Milan Brglez (S&D/SD), Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj (both Liberals/LMŠ) and Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS).

The two parliamentary bodies also discussed Slovenia's approach to aid for Ukraine, with Golob saying that Ukraine was currently most interested in Slovenia's demining capabilities.

"We have already promised this type of help. This way we meet the interests of Ukraine and are not forcing upon them what they do not need. If they request something that is in our power to do and it makes sense, we will provide more help."

Touching on Slovenia's decision to send armoured vehicles to Ukraine, he said the decision was made by the previous government and that it had not been a solo action by Slovenia but a coordinated effort by allies.

Meanwhile, opposition New Slovenia (NSi) MP Janez Žakelj said the government had not made clear its position on the war in Ukraine.

He also said the government was inconsistent in its stance toward defence spending. "At home, we're talking about drones and guerrilla warfare and in the EU we support increase in defence investments and battalion group formation, which was already advocated by the previous government."

21 Jun 2022, 15:21 PM

STA, 21 June 2022 - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry told the STA on Tuesday it had no information of assets of any Russian citizen under the EU sanctions being frozen in Slovenia since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

The ministry is in charge of implementing the law on restrictions Slovenia introduces in line with legal acts and decisions adopted by international organisations.

The changes to the law were passed in March and entered into force in April under the previous government.

At the time, the then Foreign Minister Anže Logar assessed that the new legislation significantly empowered the government in the process of implementing sanctions.

The legislation gives institutions such as the Financial Administration (FURS) and the Surveying and Mapping Authority the needed powers, he said.

If a person or company from the EU sanctions list had a piece of property in Slovenia, these institutions would put a seal on it.

The STA turned to FURS with a query, but the revenue service referred it to the Foreign Ministry, arguing the ministry is in charge of collecting the data about the action taken in this respect by FURS, banks, fund managers, insurance companies or the stock exchange operator.

These institutions must check if the Russians on the EU sanctions list have any property, bank account, money invested in funds, a share in a company or a boat in Slovenia.

In March, Logar did not have the information on how many assets Russians had in Slovenia that should be frozen.

He said, however, that once the ministry got the first information from FURS, he saw no problem in making it public.

As a result of the EU sanctions against the Kremlin due to the aggression on Ukraine, EUR 12.5 billion worth of assets of Russian oligarchs and related companies in the EU have been frozen. This is almost double the 6.7 billion reported in April. The latest figures cover luxury yachts, real estate, helicopters and works of art, but not the frozen assets of the Russian central bank.

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