20 Jun 2022, 11:28 AM

STA, 20 June 2022 - The in-house trade unions at RTV Slovenija will go on strike between 2pm and 11pm after talks on their demands following the 23 May strike brought no progress. The management is meanwhile surprised that the staff will resume the May strike, arguing that a number of proposals had been offered to implement the strike demands.

Before the strike, Culture Minister Asta Vrečko, whose ministry is in charge of media policy, will give a statement to the press about the situation at RTV Slovenija.

The new government has announced to change media legislation, including the RTV Slovenija law, to eliminate the influence of politics on the public broadcaster.

The trade unions claim the talks with the management have brought no progress on journalistic, editorial and institutional autonomy, changes to staffing policy and a raise in the lowest wages, their main demands.

As part of today's strike a rally will be held at 7pm in Republic Square, across the street from the National Assembly, to urge action from decision makers.

The public broadcaster's Programme Council will meanwhile meet to decide on its approval of sport journalist Urban Laurenčič's candidacy for TV Slovenija director.

The broadcaster's TV arm has been without a full-fledged director since Natalija Gorščak was dismissed last August.

The council will also discuss the management's proposal to severely reduce the network of correspondents abroad, a move strongly opposed by the staff and journalist organisations.

A day before the strike, the management urged the trade unions to cancel the strike to prevent the damage it would cause to the broadcaster, arguing it had offered to address all strike demands in a strike agreement.

The unions responded by saying the strike will go on as planned, adding that some strike demands had been addressed in the talks but not the main ones. They labelled director general Andrej Grah Whatmough's latest appeal and offer to sign the strike agreement by Monday 10am as an ultimatum and another attempt at preventing the strike.

20 Jun 2022, 11:24 AM

STA, 19 June 2022 - Slovenia has produced a proposal to grant Bosnia-Herzegovina EU candidate status as early as at the EU summit next week. Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon will present it to her EU counterparts on Monday at a session of the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg.

The proposal obtained by the STA shows that Bosnia would be awarded the status at the 23-24 June summit, which will be attended by PM Robert Golob.

Golob suggested during his Brussels visit earlier this week that he will propose awarding Bosnia-Herzegovina the candidate status.

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.

These are the law on the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, the law on courts, the law on prevention of conflict of interest and the law on public procurement.

Once these laws enter into force, negotiating chapters 23 on justice and fundamental rights and 24 on justice, freedom and security could be open.

The other negotiating chapters would be opened once Bosnia has met the criteria set out in the Brussels agreement in the area of elections and other relevant areas.

As sources at the EU told the STA, Minister Fajon will, if she gets the opportunity, present the proposal at Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers.

President Borut Pahor has been recently actively advocating granting Bosnia the candidate status.

This week, he outlined the initiative in a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, while he is expected to seek support for it at the Three Seas initiative summit in Latvia on Monday.

18 Jun 2022, 08:00 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, 10 June
        NEW YORK, US - The UN General Assembly elected Slovenia to the Economic and Social Council, one of the six principal UN bodies, for the 2023-2025 period. This was the country's first candidacy for the rotating membership of 54 UN member states.
        THESSALONIKI, Greece - President Borut Pahor said Ukraine must not be "left in the lurch" and urged EU enlargement to the Western Balkans as he addressed the annual summit of the South-East European Cooperation Process. He repeated his idea to give Bosnia-Herzegovina EU candidate status before the country carries out needed reforms.
        THESSALONIKI, Greece - FM Tanja Fajon attended a ministerial of the South-East European Cooperation Process, noting the importance of a credible EU enlargement policy for the reform efforts of the Western Balkans. She said that enlargement policy was the EU's most effective geostrategic policy.
        LJUBLJANA - A 101-strong contingent of the Slovenian Armed Forces arrived in Slovakia as part of NATO's international Enhanced Vigilance Activities. The Slovenian soldiers will operate within the framework of the international battle group command with a light infantry company.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - The Slovenian Interior Ministry said that for the time being, Slovenia did not intend to participate in the voluntary solidarity mechanism for the transfer of asylum seekers from the countries of their first entry, which has been unofficially joined by 12 EU member states.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - EU interior ministers reached agreement on a negotiating basis to reform the Schengen Borders Code to tighten the rules of reintroducing internal border controls. Slovenia's Tatjana Bobnar stressed these checks must be temporary, and introduced only when other alternative measures have been exhausted. Austria has been extending such checks since 2015.
        LJUBLJANA - Parts of a criminal complaint filed against former Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek over purchases of ventilators at the start of the epidemic were revealed on the Tarča current affairs show on TV Slovenija on 9 June. Investigators are said to have found proof of deals for the payment of kickbacks and of notification of suspects about upcoming house searches.
        MURSKA SOBOTA - An international conference heard of the worsening situation of the Roma in Europe as genocide, hate speech and anti-Roma activities spread in some countries and Roma refugees from Ukraine were mistreated. The conference sent out a message to European institutions on what the Roma propose for the situation to improve.

        LJUBELJ - A ceremony marking the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Ljubelj concentration camp urged efforts to prevent the spread of evil and called for peace in light of the war in Ukraine. The keynote speaker, Anica Mikuš Kos, head of Slovenian Philanthropy, pointed out that the horrors of the past could serve as a cautionary tale.
        LJUBLJANA - The Pride Parade festival culminated in Ljubljana Pride in what was a parade celebrating difference and urging equality. Members of the LGBTIQ+ community called for peace in Ukraine, and several senior officials participated in Pride.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia ranks seventh out of 180 countries in the Environmental Performance Index, which is calculated by Yale University to assess the state of sustainable environmental care. Slovenia is the highest-scoring Eastern European nation in the report.

SUNDAY, 12 June
        AURISINA, Italy - Igor Gabrovec was elected mayor of Duino-Aurisina/Devin-Nabrežina, a municipality north of the city of Trieste bordering Slovenia.
        MARIBOR - The Škofja Loka Passion Play, a Jernej Lorenci-directed production of the early 18th century rhymed-verse parable of human salvation, won the main prize at the 57th Maribor Theatre Festival, along with the award for best music. Sebastijan Horvat took best director for his take on Heiner Müller's Cement in a production by SNG Drama Ljubljana Theatre.
        ANNECY, France - Primož Roglič won the eight-day Criterium du Dauphine road cycling race after letting Jumbo Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark take the final mountain stage. Roglič is the second Slovenian to win this race after Janez Brajkovič attained the feat 12 years ago.
        MUNICH, Germany - The Slovenian women's team won bronze in the Olympic recurve bow discipline at the European Archery Championships in Munich. Ana Umer, Urška Čavič and Nina Corel defeated Denmark in the bronze medal match for what is the best result for Slovenian women recurve bow archers since 2005.

MONDAY, 13 June
        MARIBOR - Slovenia's stance on the war in Ukraine will be shaped by the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, PM Robert Golob said in response to a letter by nearly 20 academics and politicians urging the government to take a stance encouraging Ukraine and Russia to engage in serious peace talks. Another opposing letter was addressed to the government later by a different group of public figures, calling for decisive support for Ukraine's defence.
        DIVAČA - The first of the seven tunnels on route of the new, 27-km railway linking the port town of Koper with the Divača railway junction was broken through. The hole-through ceremony for the Mlinarji tunnel was attended by Slovenian and Turkish infrastructure ministers as the track is being built by Slovenian company Kolektor CPG in cooperation with two Turkish partners.
        MARIBOR - PM Robert Golob visited Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, underlining the only right way forward for the country is polycentric development. He believes that the eastern half of the country needs a capital that would equal Ljubljana, and that Maribor has a lot to offer.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič called for respecting the credibility and independence of supervisory institutions as she received Court of Audit President Tomaž Vesel. If this respect is undermined, democracy and its immune system are undermined, she warned and announced greater cooperation with the Court of Audit.
        LJUBLJANA - The 9 June session of the European Central Bank and the announcement of the first interest rate rise after eleven years has pushed up the yield on the Slovenian 10-year bond - to 2.92%, a new high after the 2013 and 2014 banking system bailout.
        LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - The European Court of Auditors found in a special report that Slovenia failed to inform the European Commission of the introduction of border checks on EU borders due to the Covid pandemic in the summer of 2020 and spring of 2021 and the Commission failed to check compliance with Schengen rules.
        LJUBLJANA - The Freedom Movement gained 4.6 points to 31% in the June poll commissioned by the newspaper Delo to extend its margin ahead of the Democrats (SDS) to 9.5 points, despite the opposition party gaining 3.4 points from May to 21.4% for its best showing since the 2018 election.

TUESDAY, 14 June
        LJUBLJANA - FM Tanja Fajon indicated Slovenia's efforts regarding Ukraine would shift to the provision of development and humanitarian aid, such as demining, after the previous government focused on sending military aid. This came after she said earlier in the week that Slovenia's foreign policy should focus on humanitarian and development aid, and that getting Russia back to the negotiating table remained the common goal.
        KYIV, Ukraine - Slovenia's Ambassador to Ukraine Tomaž Mencin returned to Kyiv, having left the capital city at the outset of Russia's invasion in what Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon described as "an important message to Ukraine".
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) proposed a resolution in support of a resolution by the European Parliament that is dedicated to the fight against impunity for war crimes in Ukraine. MP Branko Grims said the crimes that were committed there showed clear signs of genocide.
        LJUBLJANA - Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič pledged to advocate for Constitutional Court rulings to be put into effect as she received the court's president Matej Accetto. The rulings must be respected, she said. Accetto said the court expected mutual cooperation from the legislature aimed at enhancing the rule of law.
        LJUBLJANA - The recently-discovered Heiligenkreutz manuscript from the 12th century has turned out to feature the second-oldest known document in Old Slovenian after the famous Freising Manuscripts. An analysis confirmed that the numerals from one to ten are written in an early Slovenian language, public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported.
        VATICAN CITY, Vatican - The leadership of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference met with Pope Francis during their visit to the Holy See. They discussed sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, noting the importance of zero tolerance to sexual violence, the Bishops' Conference said.

        LJUBLJANA - Banka Slovenije upgraded its economic growth forecast for Slovenia by 1.8 percentage points from its December outlook to 5.8% for this year as a result of a carry-over from last year, while downgrading the projection for 2023 by 0.9 points to 2.4%. Inflation is projected to run at 9% this year before easing to 4.5% and 2.3% over the next two years.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Ten EU member states, including Slovenia, addressed an open letter to decision makers in the EU warning about making the Fit for 55 package less ambitious, arguing that this could affect the EU's reaching the set climate goals.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob set out the first government measure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, announcing a return to a model where fuel retailers' price margins at service stations outside motorways are regulated while prices of fuels sold along motorways will be liberalised. The new regime will kick in for a year on 21 June. PM later announced regulation of gas and electricity prices as possible additional measures to fight price hikes, as well as measures to tackle high food prices.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob talked to his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal on the phone, expressing Slovenia's firm support for the war-torn country, its sovereignty and peace efforts. Golob moreover expressed support for Ukraine's efforts to acquire EU candidate status and Slovenia's firm support for the Western Balkans.
        LJUBLJANA/TOKYO, Japan - SID Banka, the state-owned export and development bank, signed a cooperation agreement with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The two banks plan to create new business opportunities in digitalisation, clean energy, environment and quality infrastructure in Slovenia and third countries.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia gained two spots in the annual IMD Competitiveness Ranking to place 38th among a total of 63 countries included. Considering the circumstances, the result is satisfactory, economists taking part in the project said. They warned, however, that Slovenia failed to reduce its gap toward countries with which it likes to compare itself.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) appointed Ivan Eržen its acting medical director. The appointment follows government moves that curtailed the powers of the director general. Eržen, the NIJZ previous head, said he counted on cooperation with its current head, Milan Krek, and announced a response strategy will be prepared for the potential new Covid wave.
        LJUBLJANA - The government proposed for the National Assembly to recall two supervisors of the Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), arguing that Božo Emeršič and Leon Cizelj did not meet the necessary requirements for the job. The government also appointed Franci Jagodic acting director of the JGZ Brdo State Protocol Services, the Government Communications Office said.
        LJUBLJANA - Digital vouchers worth 150 euros became available to students from 7th grade of primary school through to university. The vouchers can be used to purchase computer hardware. New Digital Transformation Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh said the vouchers, initiated by the previous government, would only widen the digital and social gaps.

        LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the outset of his first official trip abroad as PM, expressing Slovenia's unequivocal support for granting Ukraine EU candidate status and announcing that Slovenia would ask for its first reimbursement from the EU's post-pandemic recovery fund by the end of this month.
        LJUBLJANA/OHRID, North Macedonia - President Borut Pahor sent a letter to EU Council President Charles Michel calling for Bosnia-Herzegovina to be granted the EU candidate country status without any conditions. In light of the war in Ukraine, Pahor believes tangible steps need to be made for the EU to expand to the Western Balkans as soon as possible. Pahor presented the letter in detail at the Prespa Forum Dialogue in Ohrid where he underlined the importance of dialogue about EU enlargement to the Western Balkans.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor announced he will nominate Jana Ahčin for Court of Audit president and Milan M. Cvikl for a new vice-governor at the central bank after the coalition parties picked the pair as their favourite candidates.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - After his first NATO ministerial meeting, Defence Minister Marjan Šarec told reporters Slovenia's commitments to NATO remained unchanged and the country did not plan to reduce defence spending.
        LJUBLJANA - Ukrainians whom Slovenia awards the status of temporary protection from now on receive a card rather than a written decision to prove their status. The cards will be valid until 4 March 2023. They will also serve as an ID card and as a permit for temporary residence in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian real estate fund Equinox announced a deal under which it will transfer management of three hotels in the centre of Ljubljana, among them the iconic Grand Hotel Union, to Spanish group Grupo Hotusa for 20 years with the option of two five-year extensions. The deal is worth at least EUR 100 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The permanent ban on blood donation based solely on the personal circumstances of gender and sexual orientation will be abolished on 1 July, an expert group for transfusion medicine and infectious diseases decided after the equality ombudsman raised the issue last December.
        LJUBLJANA - The equality ombudsman assessed that the National Assembly election act discriminated against persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities and unjustifiably deprived them of the right to vote. Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič said one of the priorities in the new term would be to ensure the right to vote for all individuals, regardless of their disability.


17 Jun 2022, 09:13 AM

STA, 16 June 2022 - New Digital Transformation Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh is critical of digital vouchers, a measure that was initiated by the previous government, saying they will not help step up digital literacy and inclusion, instead they will widen the digital and social gaps.

From Wednesday, digital vouchers worth EUR 150 are available to students from last three grades of primary school through to university. They can be used to purchase computer hardware and were introduced under an act on digital inclusion that was passed in February.

"The amount of the voucher is such that it will not allow the socially disadvantaged to buy the equipment they need, while others who already have the equipment will be able to buy expensive gadgets that will not contribute in any way to increasing digital literacy," the minister said on Twitter on Thursday.

Stojmenova Duh estimates that the state will spend nearly EUR 60 million on the project, but these funds will mainly be used to finance foreign-made equipment in the development of which Slovenian companies have had no significant role or benefit.

She noted that she would have cancelled the project immediately if that was possible, but it is not.

The vouchers will be later also available to people aged 55 or more who will have previously completed free digital literacy courses. It is not yet known when exactly this training will start.

The minister criticised the previous government for failing to think the project through and forgetting about people with reduced mobility.

The Left, a coalition party, was also critical of the project, noting that it would further deepen inequalities and that the funding used for the project would have come in handy at the moment when cost of living is going up.

Media reports said that the first day of digital vouchers saw quite a rush in electronics shops. Big Bang Ljubljana told TV Slovenija their customers had to wait up to an hour to redeem the voucher on Wednesday.

By 11am on Thursday EUR 826,438 worth of digital vouchers had been redeemed, shows data from the Government Office for Digital Transformation. In a day and a half 5,885 students redeemed their vouchers.

In all, 219,852 individuals are eligible for vouchers worth a total of EUR 32.98 million.

17 Jun 2022, 09:09 AM

STA, 16 June 2022 - Prime Minister Robert Golob expressed Slovenia's support for granting Ukraine status of a candidate for membership of the EU as he met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Thursday. He underscored the significance of the EU's unity in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"I expressed Slovenia's support for Ukraine to get candidate status. We confirmed this at the government session yesterday and I made this very clear," Golob told reporters after his meeting with von der Leyen.

Golob expects the Commission to give a positive opinion on granting Ukraine EU candidate status as it announces its position on Friday.

He acknowledged that Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are under direct threat. "But things can turn around quickly and sometimes it's better to act preventively. In Slovenia, we believe the Western Balkans is a region that deserves a strong and ambitious European policy," he said.

He said Slovenia did not link the process of granting EU candidate status to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to the Western Balkans. However, "we would not want the region to be overlooked," said Golob, who is in Brussels on his first official trip abroad since his government was sworn in on 1 June.

Slovenia does not intend to set any conditions for Ukraine to be granted candidate status, he said.

He underscored the need for EU's unity in its response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The unity already exists with regard to the need to support Ukraine and the inadmissibility of Russian's invasion.

"We need to work on this. Everything else is but nuances," Golob said about differing views on response to Russia's aggression emerging in Europe. One set of positions advocates starting peace talks as soon as possible, with the other warning against yielding to Russia.

In Slovenia positions differ as well and two groups of prominent figures addressed each their own letter to the government to present their views. The positions will be discussed in parliament.

Golob said talks were the only way out of the conflict. "Every war ends at the negotiating table. Peace talks don't mean conceding victory to the aggressor," he said.

Speaking about Slovenia's continued support for Ukraine, he said Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal had not asked him about weapons as they talked on Wednesday, but whether Slovenia could help in demining.

"Let's help where we can help and where help is wanted, and that is our position," he said. He also mentioned assistance by way of taking in refugees, patients and providing humanitarian aid.

He also discussed the matter with European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. In a Twitter post, Lenarčič welcomed "the reaffirmation of Slovenia's commitment to the fundamental values and the core EU".

Golob told reporters that the 24 April election marked an important turning point in Slovenia's foreign policy. "For us, Europe comes first. Slovenia has always been a core EU country and will remain so. And that is our basic message," he said.

Golob will conclude his first visit to EU institutions on Friday with a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel. In the morning, he is scheduled to meet representatives of the Renew political group in the European Parliament.

15 Jun 2022, 16:10 PM

STA, 15 June 2022 - Slovenian citizens have problems accessing some basic services in virtually all municipalities in the country, the Court of Audit has found. The most problematic seem to be access to the internet, banking services and postal services.

The court inquired about this among all of Slovenia's 212 municipalities, with 96.7% of them reporting problems.

The most problems have been reported in areas where municipalities do not have direct influence such as access to ATM services and postal services.

Poor access to banking services were reported in almost 57% of the cases. The only area that is more problematic is access to the internet (almost 71%). Access to postal services is in third place with almost 52% of municipalities reporting of problems.

In some cases, improving the situation would entail large investment in infrastructure, for example renovation of the water supply networks and roads.

Almost 48% of municipalities reported of problems in accessing services for the elderly (accommodation and care), and just over 45% in obtaining appropriate housing.

Almost 43% reported of people's problems with water supply and 42.5% with availability of public transportation.

In almost 39% of municipalities, people have problems accessing basic health services and in just over 37% they have problems accessing administrative services.

The Court of Audit said the most problematic were the high shares of municipalities with problems in accessing internet and public transportation, as the two are crucial for accessing other services.

It urged municipalities to adopt long-term strategic plans to tackle these issues.

14 Jun 2022, 20:48 PM

STA, 14 June 2022 - Slovenia's Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon has indicated the country's efforts regarding Ukraine would shift to the provision of development and humanitarian aid, after the previous government focused on sending military aid.

"We have projects such as demining with which Slovenia can help Ukraine. I hope we can find a common alliance when it comes to post-war rebuilding," she said after talks on Tuesday with Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.

"Both countries are very strong when it comes to humanitarian aid, development aid," she said.

Since the start of the war Slovenia has provided Ukraine humanitarian assistance worth EUR 3.2 million and around EUR 7 million worth of military aid, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Fajon's comments came in the aftermath of two conflicting high-profile public letters written by intellectuals and former politicians questioning Slovenia's positioning on Ukraine.

She announced the formation of a strategic council that would debate both letters. The authors thereof will be invited to the debate.

In a subsequent press release, the Foreign Ministry said the minister had also set up a coordinating group that will cover Ukraine and propose solutions for how to help the country.

Slovenia is moreover making efforts through various diplomatic channels to get Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table.

The ministry condemned the numerous attacks on Russian civilian population and infrastructure and called for an independent inquiry by the International Criminal Court.

Overall, the war in Ukraine and the prospects of giving the country a path to EU membership topped the Fajon-Asselborn talks today.

Both ministers said Ukraine was a sovereign country with internationally recognised borders that is free to choose its security arrangements and alliance.

They said the country should continue to receive development and humanitarian aid, while warning that the conflict was a major challenge with consequences for the whole world.

Both endorsed sanctions against Russia, with Asselborn noting that the sanctions were urgent since they weakened Russian President Vladimir Putin, helped Ukraine and protected European values.

As for the EU membership prospects of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, which will be the topic of the next EU summit, they expressed support, even as they pointed out that criteria cannot be ignored.

"We'll see in the coming days what the European Commission's recommendation will be regarding Ukraine's EU membership prospects. But notwithstanding the Commission's decision, Ukraine can always count on Slovenia's support when it comes to the prospects for membership," Fajon said.

14 Jun 2022, 10:46 AM

STA, 13 June 2022 - The government could present measures to mitigate the rising cost of living as soon as Wednesday, Prime Minister Robert Golob told the press as he visited Maribor on Monday.

If all goes to plan, the first batch of measures may be presented on Wednesday, said Golob, also expressing confidence that the measures to tackle the rising cost of energy and food will be drafted by the end of the month at the latest.

Golob also said that the government will approach the issue in stages, starting with petrol and diesel, followed by electricity, food and gas at the end.

Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer meanwhile said today that the task force of several government ministers led by Golob had had "a rather busy working weekend, working intensively on different scenarios and measures".

Attending a ceremony marking the break-through of the first of several tunnels on the new Koper-Divača railway track, Kumer told the press that the next meeting of the task force is scheduled for tomorrow. "We will discuss all possibilities, measures and combinations thereof."

Meanwhile, public broadcaster Radio Slovenija reported that Golob will meet stakeholders in the energy market tomorrow, to present to them the array and the possible combinations of measures. The Delo newspaper also reported that a meeting with grocers and oil traders is scheduled for Wednesday.

Apart from Golob and Kumer, the task force also includes Economy Minister Matjaž Han, Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko, Labour Minister Luka Mesec and Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič. The task force held its first meeting last week.

The government has said it would tackle the rising cost of energy and food in two steps. First, it will try to agree with stakeholders to share the burden. If this fails, price regulation will follow. Moreover, energy vouchers for the poor and fiscal interventions could be among the measures applied by the government.

11 Jun 2022, 08:31 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, 3 June
        BRIJUNI, Croatia - The presidents of Slovenia, Croatia and Austria urged accelerating EU accession talks with Western Balkan countries and condemned the war in Ukraine, which they believe cannot be resolved diplomatically at the moment. At their annual meeting in Croatia, they also discussed NATO enlargement and supported Croatia's entry into the eurozone and Schengen Area.
        LJUBLJANA - Dzmitry Hleizer, an opponent of the regime of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, is awaiting a decision on his potential extradition to Belarus after being detained in Slovenia on an international arrest warrant in late April. The Belarus diaspora says the warrant is politically-motivated.
        LJUBLJANA - The government replaced the supervisors at three state-owned electricity companies, ELES, Borzen and SODO, as well as at DRI, a consulting and engineering company specialised in infrastructure projects. The day earlier the cabinet named four new non-executive directors the Bank Assets Management Company, who are responsible for appointments of executive directors and the chairman.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Maja Pak director of the Slovenian Tourism Board for a full five-year term. Pak stepped down as director in November 2021 due to disagreements with the then economy minister, Zdravko Počivalšek.
        POSTOJNA - National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič visited the children from a Luhansk orphanage at their temporary home in the village of Slavina near Postojna. She promised to strive for their integration and for securing additional staff to help their Ukrainian guardians.
        LJUBLJANA - The Statistics Office reported that Slovenia's merchandise exports expanded by 28.2% year-on-year in April but were far outpaced by a 42.6% growth in imports, further widening the trade deficit.
        LJUBLJANA - The Employment Service registered 55,854 people as being out of a job in May, the lowest figure since 1990 and a quarter down from the year before.
        NOVO MESTO - Drug company Krka announced that the Romanian anti-corruption watchdog found no irregularities in connection to allegations from 2020 that Krka had been paying doctors in Romania kickbacks to prescribe its products.
        NOVA GORICA - Kaja Širok stepped down as the head of a public institution in charge of organising Nova Gorica's 2025 European Capital of Culture project to become a state secretary in charge of culture at the prime minister's office.

        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Robert Golob joined a call by French President Emanuel Macron for the formation of a new European centrist alliance that would go beyond the ALDE party, according to Politico.
        KOČEVSKI ROG - Victims of post-WWII summary executions were honoured with a ceremony in an area in south Slovenia dotted with mass graves. Bishop of Novo Mesto Andrej Saje and President Borut Pahor called for efforts towards reconciliation.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported that the Bank Assets Management Company became the sole owner of Salomon, a company that forms a key part of a sprawling media empire controlled by Martin Odlazek and his family, after successfully suing to expropriate the only other shareholder.
        AALEN, Germany - Boxer Ema Kozin defeated Hungary's Szilvia Szabados to become the world champion in the women's light middleweight category in the WBF organisation. This is third weight category in which the 23-year-old Slovenian holds the world champion title.

MONDAY, 6 June
        LJUBLJANA - Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg visited Slovenia as the first senior foreign official after the new government took office for meetings with his counterpart Tanja Fajon, Prime Minister Robert Golob and President Borut Pahor. Slovenian officials urged Austria to end checks on its internal Schengen border with Slovenia, but Schallenberg said Austria did not see any alternative to the measure for now.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council criticised the coalition agreement as being too vague, warning of a potential increase in expenditure that could outstrip that of revenue. It urged the government to specify the fiscal implications of the measures planned in the document.
        LJUBLJANA - The State Attorney's Office announced it had withdrawn suits against individuals to compensate the Interior Ministry for the costs of policing anti-government protests held in the past two years after the ministry under the new government withdrew its consent for the damages claims.
        SLOVENJ GRADEC - Journalist Vladimir Vodušek was acquitted of attempting to extort a business executive in 2012 in a retrial at the Slovenj Gradec District Court. In the original trial Vodušek was given a year and a half in prison in 2018, but the ruling was overturned by a higher court.
        LJUBLJANA - The death toll of the powerful explosion that ripped through the Melamin chemical plant in Kočevje, south Slovenia, on 12 May increased to seven after a second of the two severely injured workers died at UKC Ljubljana hospital.
        KOPER - The shareholders meeting of port operator Luka Koper endorsed a counter-proposal by Slovenian Sovereign Holding to pay out dividends of EUR 1.14 gross per share of EUR 15.96 million in total. The state and state owned-funds hold over 67% in the company.

        LJUBLJANA - Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Olena Kondratiuk thanked Slovenia for its support for her country as she addressed the press with Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon, who also promised support for Ukraine's EU accession efforts. Kondratiuk also met President Borut Pahor and Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court stayed parts of the new environment protection act dealing with extended producer responsibility pending its final decision on an application by Interseroh, the German-owned waste management company, and its associates who are worried about the damage the new system would do to their business.
        LJUBLJANA - Having conducted a mission to the country between 22 and 30 May, a team of international experts under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency found Slovenia had a comprehensive and well-functioning radioactive waste and spent fuel management system, but there was still room for improvement.
        LJUBLJANA - The Commission for Human Rights at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) submitted a proposal to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the UN to establish an international court dealing with war crimes against children between 2000 and 2022.
        LJUBLJANA - Žiga Debeljak, a former CEO of retailer Mercator, was appointed chairman of the board of directors of the Bank Assets Management Company as the new board appointed by the government the week before held its inaugural session. He replaces Franci Matoz, the lawyer of former PM Janez Janša, who had stepped down.
        TRIESTE, Italy - Several hundred people gathered at St Ana's Cemetery for the funeral of Boris Pahor, the internationally-acclaimed Slovenian writer who died at his home in Trieste aged 108 on 30 May.
        LJUBLJANA - Latvian poet Amanda Aizpuriete was declared the winner of this year's International Vilenica Prize for Central European literature, to be presented at the conclusion of the 37th Vilenica International Literary Festival in September.
        LJUBLJANA - Ghanaian visual artist Ibrahim Mahama was appointed artistic director of the 35th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts, to take place between 15 September and 14 January, 2023.
        GORNJA RADGONA - A bust dedicated to Ivan Kramberger (1936-1992), a humanitarian, inventor and a candidate in the 1990 presidential election, was unveiled to mark the 30th anniversary of his assassination during his pre-election speech. A book and a documentary on him also marked the occasion.
        CLEVELAND, US - Joe Valencic, a well known promoter of Slovenian and polka events in the US, became the sixth American of Slovenian descent to be inducted to the Cleveland International Hall of Fame to join the ranks of Senator George Voinovich, journalist Dick Russ, jurists Vladimir Rus and Avgust Pust and Bishop Edvard Pevec.

        LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit found major flaws in the way the Koper-Divača rail project had been prepared and run from 2015 until the end of June 2020, finding the government and the ministry in charge had been inefficient in preparing the basis for the construction and management of the project and only partly efficient in their oversight of the project.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of prominent academics and politicians, including former presidents Milan Kučan and Danilo Türk, urged the new government to "take a sensible stance on the war in Ukraine" that would lead to Ukraine and Russia engaging in "serious peace talks". They said "a new security architecture" would have to be built in Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič and her Polish counterpart Elzbieta Witek discussed Ukraine, relations between Slovenia and Poland, and future cooperation by video call. Klakočar Zupančič accepted Witek's invitation to join a group of women parliamentary speakers from EU members to focus on humanitarian aid and other mechanisms to help refugees.
        LJUBLJANA - Members of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) endorsed a merger with the Freedom Movement, the party of Prime Minister Robert Golob, in a near unanimous vote after the party failed to make the 4% threshold to enter parliament.
        LJUBLJANA - The Government Communication Office (UKOM), which has a new leadership following the change of government, announced it would no longer compile reports scrutinising the work of RTV Slovenija journalists and would finance the STA in line with the contract signed in early 2022 by the STA's director and UKOM's former head.
        PARIS, France - The OECD downgraded its economic forecast for Slovenia by 0.8 percentage points to 4.6% for this year and by 0.7 points to 2.5% for next year, partly due to the negative impact of the war in Ukraine.
        CELJE - Mirko Tuš, once one of Slovenia's wealthiest businessmen, and his wife Tanja Tuš pleaded guilty to abuse of office and money laundering charges in exchange for milder sentences over the transfer between 2011 and 2016 of the Tušmobil mobile telephony brand. The pair face suspended sentences plus fines of EUR 450,000 and EUR 90,000 respectively.

        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Peter Grum acting director general of the Financial Administration (FURS). He succeeds Ivan Simič, who stepped down right after the Robert Golob government was sworn in. Grum served as FURS deputy director in 2014-20.
        LJUBLJANA - Pavel Car resigned as director of the National Museum a day after he had to cancel an exhibition of 160 works of art from a Slovenian private collection amid concerns that works by artists such as Picasso, Cezanne and Miro were forgeries.
        LJUBLJANA - After the new government made a promise to remove the fence from the border with Croatia, the Interior Ministry told the STA this was one of the priorities, with the removal expected by the end of the year.
        LJUBLJANA - The government tasked the ministries of justice and home affairs to draw up an analysis of the legal bases used in procedures against individuals for breaking Covid-19 containment measures by the end of August to see whether fines might have been unfair or unlawful. The former government's decision to sue protesters for the costs of policing their rallies were annulled.
        LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Ministry unveiled the draft of a bill that would require gas suppliers to secure storage in other EU countries equalling at least 15% of average annual gas volumes they sell in line with a recently agreed EU regulation.
        LJUBLJANA - The authorities announced they were looking into suspicions of forced labour and human trafficking following reports alleging modern-day slavery conditions at a fishpacking plant owned by the family of Boris Šuštar, a former state secretary who was convicted in the early 2000s for taking bribes. The companies concerned were banned from working with foreign workers.
        LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav ordered an internal inquiry at the National Bureau of Investigation to clarify claims of alleged stalling of certain investigations, including into procurement of medical supplies during the epidemic.
        NEW YORK, US - It transpired Slovenia had formally nominated international law expert Vasilka Sancin for a new term on the UN Human Rights Committee past the deadline after the new government unblocked her bid. 17 candidates are vying for nine vacancies.
        OSLO, Norway - Slovenia pulled off a goalless draw with Norway in the third round of League B of the UEFA Nations League to earn their first point just days after being defeated by Serbia 1:4 in Belgrade and losing to Sweden at home 0:2.

10 Jun 2022, 11:00 AM

STA, 9 June 2022 - Right after the 24 April general election, the intelligence and security agency SOVA recommended to the outgoing government that its officials destroy all mobile phones used in the course of their work before leaving office, web portal Necenzurirano has reported. New Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar is critical of this.

The investigative reporting outlet said on Thursday that SOVA sent a letter recommending this course of action to Boštjan Koritnik, the previous public administration minister, on 25 April, right after it became clear that Robert Golob's Freedom Movement won the election.

Ministers, state secretaries and government agency heads serving under the Janez Janša government were urged to "professionally destroy" all mobile phones and laptops they have used during the course of their work before leaving their posts, or to keep them for themselves.

SOVA said this was due to "the protection of national interests". "In any case, such equipment should not be assigned to the next holder of a public office," reads the letter that was shared on the portal.

Holding a press conference after today's government session, Minister Bobnar said this was a very questionable measure. "It is known how to handle phones containing communications. The Constitution is absolutely clear on this too, so I don't think another comment is even necessary," she said.

Such a recommendation by SOVA is a major departure from previous practice, Necenzurirano said, noting that the intelligence and security agency had likely exceeded its powers.

Until now, prime ministers, ministers and other public officials were required to return encrypted and other phones when leaving office. In such cases, the phones were handed over to their successors by competent authorities, before which the devices were factory reset, without in any way endangering the country's national interests, the portal added.

When the recommendation was issued, SOVA was led by Janez Stušek, who was later, on 1 June, dismissed by the Robert Golob government under a customary first round of replacements that all governments tend to do at the outset of their term. The new government appointed his deputy Joško Kadivnik an acting director of SOVA.

09 Jun 2022, 11:44 AM

STA, 8 June 2022 - The members of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) have endorsed a merger with the Freedom Movement, the party of Prime Minister Robert Golob, in a near unanimous vote after the party failed to make the 4% threshold to enter parliament.

Wednesday's vote by the members, who confirmed the decision with 97% of the vote, follows endorsements by the LMŠ's executive committee and council in May.

Another party that did not make the cut, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), plans to merge with the Freedom Movement as well. A remote vote is planned between 13 and 15 May.

The formal merger of the three parties is expected by the end of the month, with a congress to be held before the local elections in November.

In advance of the merger, the leaders of both SAB and LMŠ have gotten ministerial posts in the Golob cabinet.

Marjan Šarec has already been appointed defence minister and Alenka Bratušek is slated for the infrastructure portfolio once a blockade by the opposition is lifted and the number of departments is expanded.

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