08 Jun 2022, 08:28 AM

STA, 7 June 2022 - Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Olena Kondratiuk thanked Slovenia for its support for Ukraine as she addressed the press with Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon in Ljubljana on Tuesday. Fajon said Slovenia would also support Ukraine in its EU accession efforts and announced the Slovenian ambassador would return to Kyiv next Tuesday.

Fajon expressed her full support for Ukraine, stressed that Slovenia condemned Russia's aggression and also called for an independent international investigation into human rights violations in Ukraine.

She added that Kondratiuk and her had discussed the process of Ukraine's accession to the EU as well.

"Slovenia supports a clear European perspective for Ukraine, but in this process we need to preserve the sensitivity of the EU enlargement process itself and the membership perspective of the Western Balkan countries," Fajon said.

She added that the road would not be easy, but the minister and Kondratiuk pledged to "do everything we can to help Ukraine on the path to EU membership".

Fajon added that the ministry had this week set up a special task force to provide assistance and support to Ukraine in various areas.

She announced that Slovenian Ambassador to Ukraine Tomaž Mencin, who retreated to Rzeszow, Poland, at the start of the Russian invasion, would return to Kyiv on Tuesday.

Kondratiuk thanked Slovenia for all its assistance - humanitarian, military and economic - and for its clear condemnation of the Russian aggression.

She said the talks had been positive and congratulated Fajon and the new Slovenian government on their electoral success.

She stressed that obtaining EU candidate status was of utmost importance for Ukraine and thanked Slovenia for its support.

The speaker also said that Ukraine supported the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the EU, as in her view any enlargement of the bloc was positive.

Kondratiuk noted Ukraine was aware that a lot of hard work and a long path lay ahead when it comes to becoming a full fledged EU member.

However, Ukraine is ready - it has completed two questionnaires with the European Commission, which was satisfied with the responses, she said.

I can confirm that Ukraine has met 65% of the requirements for EU candidate status, Kondratiuk added.

Brussels and some member states have warned there can be no shortcuts to joining the EU. Some Western Balkan countries have been waiting for candidate status for years.

Kondratiuk argued that candidate status for Ukraine would be an important victory against Russian President Vladimir Putin and a demonstration of united support for Ukraine's EU accession.

She stressed that Ukraine did not negate the efforts of the Western Balkan countries to join the EU, but Ukraine would "walk its own path".

Fajon added she was aware of the great symbolic importance of the candidate status for Ukraine. "We will work towards Slovenia supporting candidate status as soon as possible, but meeting the criteria and benchmarks of course remains crucial," the foreign minister said.

Kondratiuk was also received by President Borut Pahor, National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič and National Council President Alojz Kovšca, and met with members of the parliament's foreign policy, EU affairs and defence committees.

Klakočar Zupančič said in a statement after the meeting that Slovenia was united in its support for Ukraine and condemnation of Russian aggression in the country, noting that Slovenia had received many refugees from Ukraine and provided humanitarian aid.

The pair also discussed Ukraine's efforts to join the EU, with Kondratiuk once again thanking Slovenia for all the assistance and support, noting that Ukraine wanted and strived to gain the candidate status at the upcoming EU summit at the end of June.

The deputy speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament noted the declaration of the Slovenian parliament officially condemning the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

She said she had proposed to Klakočar Zupančič that a new, similar resolution be passed to "condemn the genocide committed by Russia against the Ukrainian people", which has already been done by several countries.

Kondratiuk again asked for military support and other forms of assistance, in particular Slovenia's expert support in rebuilding Ukraine's infrastructure after the war ends. She also invited the Slovenian parliamentary speaker to visit Ukraine.

07 Jun 2022, 10:35 AM

STA, 7 June 2022 - The newspaper Dnevnik writes on Tuesday that statistics on illegal migration do not justify Austria's continued passport controls on the border with Slovenia, noting that it is in violation of the freedom of movement, one of the EU's core values.

The paper notes how 15 years ago when Slovenia joined the Schengen area Austria's economy minister of the time, Martin Bartenstein, hailed the end of border controls and freedom of movement at Šentilj crossing.

Given that Austria reintroduced border checks in the autumn of 2015, "our joy and freedom lasted but half the time that we have been part of the Schengen club, which promised us free travel across Europe without having to wait or show our ID at border crossings."

The paper says that a 36-year-old EU citizen took the promise seriously and refused to show his ID document at Šentilj in 2019. He was fined but filed legal action with the relevant court in Austria's Styria. On the court's request to give its opinion, the EU court in April this year ruled that Austria has since 2017 failed to prove it faced a new direct threat from open borders as required by the Schengen Code.

"In the end, judges in Styria will decide about the claim of the 36-year-old plaintiff [...] but anyone who will have a look at the statistics from the Federal Criminal Investigation Office or the Austrian Statistical Office over recent few years has a right to wonder why the hell the Austrians control the border with Slovenia, apart from the one with Hungary."

"As far as Hungary is concerned, it is possible to understand, because last year, most illegal migrants were apprehended in Burgenland, which mainly borders Hungary, but the second largest number of illegal migrants was intercepted in Lower Austria, which borders the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where Austria no longer conducts any border checks," writes the paper under the headline Why the Hell Šentilj (Zakaj hudiča Šentilj), adding that the Šentilj crossing has never been listed as problematic for illegal migration.

06 Jun 2022, 14:12 PM

STA, 6 June 2022 - Visiting Slovenia as the first foreign official after the new government was sworn in, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Monday that Austria did not see any alternative to checks on what is its internal Schengen border with Slovenia. He discussed a number of issues with Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon.

 In light of the war in Ukraine and a significant increase in illegal migration in recent months, there is no alternative to Austria's continued border checks, Schallenberg said, adding that Austria would strive to come up with a solution through dialogue to make the situation on the border the way it was prior to 2015.

Meanwhile, Fajon said that Slovenia saw no reason to maintain border controls. She informed Schallenberg of the planned removal of the fence on Slovenia's border with Croatia, assuring him that Slovenia would continue to ensure adequate protection of its external Schengen border.

In 2015, at the peak of the refugee crisis, Austria introduced border checks on its internal Schengen borders with Slovenia and Hungary and has been extending this ever since. The latest six-month extension was in mid-May, with Austria citing the war in Ukraine as one of the reasons.

Fajon and Schallenberg reaffirmed the good cooperation between the two countries in various fields and stressed the importance of ethnic minorities.

Fajon said that before the visit she had met representatives of the Slovenian ethnic community in Austria, who, she said, lauded the positive developments on the Austrian side.

"We have agreed to work together, at federal level and along the border, to provide help to our national community," she said as she expressed her support for continuation of the dialogue with the German-speaking community in Slovenia and efforts to strengthen their linguistic and cultural identity.

"Both communities need our help and protection," said Schallenberg.

Asked whether Slovenia would work towards the notification of the Austrian State Treaty under the new government, Fajon replied that in dialogue with Austria the Slovenian side emphasised above all the implementation of Article 7 of the treaty, which guarantees the rights of the Slovenian community in Austria.

"The question of the status of the contracting party is not a subject of the dialogue with Austria, furthermore the situation in the world does not allow it at the moment," she added.

Schallenberg said that Austria considered the treaty to be a limited international treaty, so Slovenia cannot join it. "Nevertheless, Austria is committed to respecting it and takes the commitments seriously," he added.

Another issue on which the two countries do not share the same position is nuclear energy. Schallenberg reiterated Austria's opposition to the nuclear power plant in Krško, but acknowledged that the exchange of information at expert level was going well.

"I know that giving up nuclear power is not on the Slovenian agenda, but I would like to see us take things forward in a way that would benefit both countries," he said.

The ministers also discussed the situation in Ukraine and called for cooperation on projects to rebuild the country after the war and help people there.

Moreover, the pair called for the EU to do everything possible to implement the enlargement commitments made to Western Balkan countries.

"We're both wholeheartedly committed to supporting the Western Balkans countries to get their membership as soon as possible, and we will devote close attention to putting them on the EU agenda," Fajon said.

Schallenberg noted the geopolitical responsibility of the EU towards the region and the promises made to the region 19 years ago. "If we talk about Ukraine and Moldova, we must also talk about the Western Balkans", he said, warning against creating first- and second-tier candidates for EU accession.

Schallenberg is the first foreign senior official to have visited Slovenia after the new government took office last week. He expressed his gratitude for having been able to visit Ljubljana so quickly, and Fajon stressed the symbolic importance of his visit.

He also met President Borut Pahor and was received by Robert Golob, the new prime minister. During their meeting, Golob called for Austria to lift their checks on the border with Slovenia as soon as possible.

Golob and Schallenberg talked relations between the two countries and central European issues, with an emphasis on the energy situation as a result of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the prime minister's office said.

04 Jun 2022, 06:23 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, 27 May
        KOPER - The German turnaround fund Mutares signed a deal with Italy's TCH Cogeme to acquire the Slovenian car parts manufacturer Cimos and its subsidiaries for an undisclosed amount. The takeover is expected to be finalised in the third quarter of 2022.
        NOVA GORICA - Stojan Petrič, one of Slovenia's most prominent businessmen, and all four co-defendants were acquitted of abuse of office charges in the 2010 takeover of transformer manufacturer Etra 33 by Petrič's industrial conglomerate Kolektor.
        LJUBLJANA - Equality Ombudsman Miha Lobnik was upbeat about cooperation with the legislative and executive branches of power as he handed the 2021 annual report to parliamentary Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič. He said a new era of intensive cooperation was coming.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia slid three spots in the latest biannual global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report to 39th among the 117 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's first Barnahus, a facility providing a safe space for comprehensive treatment of children victims of sexual violence and other criminal acts, was inaugurated in Ljubljana. Courts must now start issuing decisions that interviews with a child who is a victim or witness must be conducted by using the Barnahus principle.
        LJUBLJANA - Coder Matjaž Škorjanc, who has already served his almost five-year prison sentence for masterminding the Mariposa botnet in the late 2000s, will go on trial again after the Constitutional Court annulled the 2013 guilty ruling and two higher-instance court rulings, returning the case to the Maribor District Court for retrial, Večer reported.
        LJUBLJANA - Musicologist Primož Kuret, a professor emeritus at the Academy of Music, died aged 86. He was one of the most prominent Slovenian intellectuals.
SUNDAY, 29 May
        LJUBLJANA - Petra Grah Lazar, director of the National Bureau of Investigation, confirmed for the news portal Siol that the bureau had referred to the prosecution a criminal complaint in an abuse of office investigation into the purchases of personal protective equipment and ventilators during the early stages of the Covid-19 epidemic.
        LIPTOVSKY MIKULAS, Slovakia - Canoeist Benjamin Savšek, the reigning Olympic champion in the C-1 discipline, won his fourth title as European champion at the Canoe Slalom European Championships in Slovakia for what is Slovenia's 15th gold at European championships.

MONDAY, 30 May
        TRIESTE, Italy - Boris Pahor, the internationally-renowned Trieste-born Slovenian writer who wrote about his own experience of Fascism and the suffering in Nazi death camps during World War II, died at his home in Trieste, aged 108. He was best known as the author of Necropolis, a first-person account of his time in a Nazi concentration camp.
        LJUBLJANA - Constitutional Court judge Marijan Pavčnik asked to be relieved of his duties at the end of this year, halfway into his nine-year term, kicking off proceedings for the election of a new judge several years before a new round of judicial appointments was scheduled to start.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenian MEPs Ljudmila Novak (NSi) and Milan Zver (SDS) clashed over the reasons for the centre-right bloc's defeat in the 24 April election in Slovenia at a meeting of the European People's Party. According to web portal N1, Zver labelled the winner Freedom Movement an extreme left party and said the Robert Golob government would be pro-Kremlin. Novak denied that.
        LJUBLJANA - The outgoing government lifted all remaining Covid restrictions as it repealed the main decree governing anti-Covid measures under a motion by the Health Ministry's advisory group for coronavirus.
        LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed a EUR 6 million subsidy for German-owned motorhome maker Carthago, which is building a second production facility in Slovenia, in Ormož. The project is valued at EUR 45.5 million VAT excluded and the company will receive the subsidy in two instalments.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Janez Janša, the outgoing prime minister, urged the EU and the West to focus on military assistance to Ukraine rather than on sanctions as he arrived for the second day of meetings at the EU summit. Sanctions are not the key issue, he said, adding that the EU needed to step up military assistance to Ukraine given the Russian army's rapid advances in Donbas.
        LJUBLJANA - Boštjan Lesjak, Slovenia's interim chargé d'affaires in Kyiv, is returning to Slovenia after his term has expired, and Slovenia will again be represented in Ukraine by Ambassador Tomaž Mencin. He will return to the Ukrainian capital as soon as adequate security is ensured, the Foreign Ministry said.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation hit 8.1% in May, the highest rate since 2002, on the back of soaring fuel and food prices, the Statistics Office reported. The monthly rate stood at 2%.
        BRNIK - The French flag carrier Air France launched twice-daily flights to Ljubljana airport from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. It will operate the route through the summer.
        LJUBLJANA - Igor Bavčar, a former executive of Istrabenz convicted of money laundering, was released on parole six months before the end of his five-year prison sentence, several media reported.
        LJUBLJANA - Nova Obzorja, the company which publishes the weekly Demokracija and web portal Škandal24.si, has a new majority owner as a 65.85% share has been transferred from Hungarian company R-Post-R to NovaTV24.si, the company running the Nova24TV TV news channel, official records showed.
        DOMŽALE - Cedevita Olimpija won their 19th national basketball championship title by sweeping the final series against Helios Suns of Domžale. This is the second national championship for the Ljubljana club in a row and the third trophy this season.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob's cabinet was sworn in after the line-up was confirmed in a 53:28 vote in the National Assembly. Golob acknowledged that it would not get the customary 100-day grace period and would have to get down to work right away.
        LJUBLJANA - The new government replaced the chiefs of the intelligence and security agency SOVA, defence security agency OVS, the police, the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Government Communications Office at its inaugural session. It also appointed most state secretaries.
        LJUBLJANA - Ivan Simič, the director general of the Tax Administration, and Franci Matoz, the chairman of the Bank Assets Management Company, stepped down just minutes after the new government was sworn in. They were both close allies of Janez Janša.
        LJUBLJANA - Dnevnik reported that NLB, Slovenia's largest bank, had reached a settlement with the Croatian tourism company Plava Laguna over the company's debt to the former Slovenian LB bank dating back to the break-up of Yugoslavia, in what is the first settlement of its kind for NLB.
        LJUBLJANA - The state-owned HSE, the largest electricity producer in the country, added another electricity retail company to its portfolio by completing the acquisition of a 51% stake in Energija Plus. The current owner, Elektro Maribor, will retain a 49% stake.
        LJUBLJANA - Former head of the Slovenian Evangelical Lutheran Church Geza Erniša died aged 70 after being hospitalised due to illness. He was the first bishop of the church in Slovenia, having held the post for 18 years until 2013.

        LJUBLJANA - The government signed off the appointments of 13 state prosecutors that had been stalled under the Janez Janša government. State prosecution had been warning of acute staff shortages because the previous government would not decide on the nomination proposals.
        LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry withdrew its consent for first damages suits brought against individuals over the costs of policing of unregistered anti-government protests over the past two years. The suits were brought under the previous interior minister Aleš Hojs.
        LJUBLJANA - Taking over from Anže Logar as foreign minister, Tanja Fajon pledged closer ties with core EU countries and further support for EU enlargement and Schengen zone enlargement. Logar was hopeful Slovenia would remain committed to helping Ukraine, including in its way towards the EU. Fajon promised as minister she "will do everything for Slovenia to actively contribute to ending the war".
        LJUBLJANA - After taking over from his predecessor Matej Tonin, Defence Minister Marjan Šarec said one of his first moves as minister would be to tackle military personnel shortages.
        WASHINGTON, US - In its 2021 religious freedom report, the US Office of International Religious Freedom noted religious communities' concerns in Slovenia about several loopholes and pending requests, including those related to halal meals, male circumcision and a lack of certain religious staff in the military.
        LJUBLJANA - The NGO Zavod Kolektiv 99 filed 11 collective lawsuits on behalf of consumers against banks over the zero-floor clause in their loan agreements, meaning that if the reference Euribor rate is negative, it is deemed to be zero. They demand EUR 159 million in damages and interest on late payment.
        LJUBLJANA - Caritas Slovenia said it had so far raised more than EUR 3 million in aid for Ukraine in what is the biggest humanitarian campaign dedicated to a foreign country in Slovenia's history.

04 Jun 2022, 06:21 AM

STA, 3 June 2022 - The new government appointed Maja Pak the director of the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) for a five-year term on Friday. Pak is returning to the helm of the STO after stepping down as director in November 2021 due to disagreements with the then economy minister, Zdravko Počivalšek.

Pak will take up her post on Monday for a full five-year term, said the Government Communication Office after the first correspondence session of the Robert Golob government.

At today's meeting, the STO council took a decision to nominate Pak as STO director. The current acting STO director, Ilona Stermecki, is due to leave office on Sunday.

Pak has many years of experience in tourism, both in the private tourism sector and in successfully leading the STO for more than eight years, the press release reads.

She first headed the organisation between 2010 and 2012, after which the STO was merged with a number of other state agencies to form the public agency SPIRIT Slovenija.

She took over the leadership of the tourism board for the second time after it became a separate institution again in 2015.

In March last year, the Janez Janša government reappointed Pak as STO director for another five-year term, but only months later, in mid-November, she resigned citing diverging views on the ways of running the organisation between her and Počivalšek. The government then appointed Stermecki as interim head.

The newspaper Dnevnik has recently reported that both Pak and Stermecki had applied for the top STO post. The two had confirmed this for the paper.

03 Jun 2022, 13:05 PM

STA, 3 June 2022 - Dzmitry Hleizer, an opponent of the regime of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, has been detained in Slovenia based on an international arrest warrant, which the Belarus diaspora in Slovenia says was prompted by his taking part in anti-government protests in Belarus.

According to a report by the commercial broadcaster POP TV, Hleizer has been in detention since being apprehended in Slovenia in late April. After a hearing at the Kranj District Court on Thursday, he is waiting for a decision on his potential extradition to Belarus.

Alexandra Mamaeva, a representative of the Belarus people's embassy to Slovenia, told POP TV that if Hleizer was extradited he would not be given a fair trial in Belarus. She warned that regime opponents were being tortured in detention in her country.

Mamaeva said Hleizer was a victim of political persecution because he supported the opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in her bid for the presidential election and took part in protests against the Lukashenko regime.

He was detained in Belarus and was threatened and beaten for two days, with the authorities demanding he testify against his superior who fell into the regime's disfavour. Hleizer consented to testify, but fled to Spain after being released in March 2021.

Despite an arrest warrant issued against him by the Belarus authorities, ostensibly for bribery, the Spanish authorities did not arrest him in a year and a half.

However, when he arrived in Slovenia to pick up his mother-in-law, who had fled here from Ukraine, he was apprehended by Slovenian police in his hotel on 29 April.

After the hearing at the Kranj District Court, his defence counsel Erika Šlibar Mulej said they believed they had been able to prove Belarus's extradition demand was unfounded, which position was also taken by the prosecution.

A week ago, a Turkmenistan activist travelling with the Russian feminist protest punk rock band Pussy Riot was briefly apprehended by Slovenian police ahead of their concert in Ljubljana based a 20-year-old Interpol arrest warrant, before being released.

02 Jun 2022, 11:54 AM

2 June 2022 - The new government of Robet Golob appointed its closest team of aides at its maiden session last night, including state secretaries at most ministries and the prime minister's office. Here is the list of new government officials:

The Office of Prime Minister Robert Golob
- chief of staff: Petra Škofic, Golob's Freedom Movement PR adviser
- state secretary for European affairs: Igor Mally, who held the post at the offices for three ex-PMs: Marjan Šarec, Miro Cerar and Alenka Bratušek
- state secretary for international affairs: Vojko Volk, former consul general in Trieste
- state secretary for strategical communication: Melita Župevc, a former MP and public relations expert
- state secretary for national and external safety: Andrej Benedejčič, former permanent representative to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other International Organisations in Vienna
- state secretary for defence and security policy: Anton Grizold, a defence studies professor and ex-defence minister
- state secretary for relations with the National Assembly: Maša Kociper, former head of the deputy group of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB)
- state secretary for dialogue with civil society and coordination of civil initiatives: Maksimiljana Polak, former advisor at GEN-I, the indirectly state-owned energy trader which Golob headed for 15 years
- state secretary for intergenerational dialogue and housing policy: Nataša Sax, former secretary at the Environment Ministry directorate for housing policy

Secretariat-General of the Government
- secretary general: Barbara Kolenko Helbl, lawyer

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- minister and deputy prime minister: Tanja Fajon
- state secretaries: ex-Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar, diplomat Marko Štucin

Ministry of Labour, the Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
- minister and deputy prime minister: Luka Mesec
- state secretaries: Simon Maljevac, slated to serve as minister of labour, the family, social affairs and equal opportunities once the government line-up is restructured; Dan Juvan, elected MP for the Left

Ministry of Health
- minister and deputy prime minister: Danijel Bešič Loredan
- state secretaries: dentist Tadej Ostrc, former Labour Ministry State Secretary Breda Božnik, and nurse Aleksandra Lah Topolšek

Ministry of Finance
- minister: Klemen Boštjančič
- state secretaries: former Finance Ministry State Secretary Saša Jazbec, former Labour Ministry State Secretary Tilen Božič

Ministry of the Interior
- minister: Tatjana Bobnar
- state secretaries: Branko Lobnikar, security expert from the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, Tina Heferle, former MP from the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ)

Ministry of Defence
- minister: Marjan Šarec
- state secretaries: former LMŠ MP Rudi Medved, ex-PM Šarec's state secretary for national security Damir Črnčec

Ministry of Justice
- minister: Dominika Švarc Pipan
- state secretaries: ex-Court of Audit president Igor Šoltes, lawyer Sebastjan Zbičajnik

Ministry of Economic Development and Technology
- minister: Matjaž Han
- state secretaries: former Agriculture Minister Dejan Židan, Matevž Frangež, state secretary in the office of PM Miro Cerar

Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning
- minister: Uroš Brežan
- state secretaries: former Foreign Ministry official Uroš Vajgl, Matej Skočir, deputy mayor of the Tolmin municipality

Ministry of Infrastructure
- minister: Bojan Kumer
- state secretaries: Alenka Bratušek, slated to take over as infrastructure minister once the government line-up is restructured; Tina Seršen, so far in charge of legal and international energy issues at the Infrastructure Ministry

Ministry of Public Administration
- minister: Sanja Ajanović Hovnik
- state secretaries: Urban Kodrič, former head of the Koper-Postojna unit of the Market Inspectorate; Jure Trbič, member of the non-parliamentary Pirate Party

Ministry of Education, Science and Sport
- minister: Igor Papič
- state secretaries: Matjaž Krajnc, professor at the Faculty for Chemistry; Darjo Felda, mathematician and university professor

Ministry of Culture
- minister: Asta Vrečko
- state secretary: Marko Rusjan, Nova Gorica city councillor for the Left

Government Office for Slovenians Abroad
- minister: Matej Arčon
- state secretary: journalist Vesna Humar

Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy
- minister: Aleksander Jevšek
- state secretary: Marko Koprivc, former SocDem MP

Government Office for Digital Transformation
- minister: Emilija Stojmenova Duh
- state secretary: Matej Kalan, founder of the HUB Kranjska Gora

*State secretaries at the Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Food led by Irena Šinko have not been appointed yet.

01 Jun 2022, 22:22 PM

STA, 1 June 2022 - Below are the biographies of ministers in Slovenia's 15th government. The cabinet line-up will change once the law on the government is amended as planned by the coalition to add several more portfolios. Some of the ministries will be renamed. 

Tanja Fajon, Social Democrats, minister for foreign affairs

Born in Ljubljana in 1971, Fajon graduated in journalism from the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences before going on to complete a post-graduate course in international politics at the College of Interdisciplinary Studies in Paris.

Beginning her career as a radio and newspaper journalist, she went on to work at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija from 1995 to 2009, serving for several years as its Brussels correspondent.

She was first elected to the European Parliament on the SD ticket in 2009 and then again in 2014 and 2019. She gave up her MEP seat after being elected to the National Assembly in April. As MEP she was member of the Socialists and Democrats Group, her priority being the Western Balkans. She has served as SD leader since 2020.

She speaks English, German, French and Croatian.

Presenting her vision to MPs, she said that as minister she would be committed to the rule of law and common EU values. She stressed the importance of good relations with neighbouring countries and expressed support to EU enlargement to the Western Balkans.

She announced Slovenia would return to the "EU's core" and be committed to multilateralism and international law.

Succeeding Anže Logar as the first Slovenian female foreign minister, she plans to modernise the Foreign Ministry to reflect global challenges.

Luka Mesec, Left, minister of labour, the family, social affairs and equal opportunities

Born in Kranj in 1987, Mesec graduated in European studies from the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences in 2012. He has been active politically since his student years and served as director of the Institute for Labour Studies from 2013 to 2014.

He was a founding member and coordinator of the party called Initiative for Democratic Socialism, a precursor to the Left, and was first elected to the National Assembly in 2014 as a candidate for the United Left to become the head of the deputy faction.

He is currently what the Left calls "coordinator" of the party, staying in the post after offering resignation following the party's sup-par performance in the April election, but won a vote of confidence.

Mesec announced that as minister he would advocate welfare of all and put an emphasis on fighting poverty and precarious forms of work, and cutting red tape in welfare procedures.

He said the ministry would work to ensure that pension for full-time pensionable service is at least EUR 700 net. The minimum wage would be raised to at least EUR 800, as written down in the coalition agreement.

The post is a placeholder for Mesec, who will become the minister for a solidarity-based future once the government is expanded, in charge of housing and intergenerational solidarity.

Klemen Boštjančič, Freedom Movement, finance minister

Boštjančič is a 50-year-old economist. He served as chief supervisor at construction company Vegrad, which went into receivership in 2009. In 2011 and 2012 he was the CEO of the now defunct flag carrier Adria Airways, from 2013 to 2017 he was a supervisor at hardware retailer Merkur and between 2014 and 2017 at logistics company Intereuropa. Between 2016 and 2017 he was the CFO of Montecristo SL.

Since December 2016 he has served as the chairman of the state-controlled tourism company Sava and since 2017 also as the chief supervisor of Sava's key subsidiary Sava Turizem. Boštjančič is the sole owner and head of the consultancy Brio Svetovalni Center.

As minister he is expected to be in the spotlight over the announced new property tax. He would not say during his presentation in parliament when the bill could be expected but mentioned the year 2023. A precondition is that ownership, possession, and other rights in land are formally recorded "otherwise we will have a serious problem", he said.

He also indicated that he did not plan to rush with legislative tax changes although he has quite a few proposals. Regarding the changes to the income tax act implemented this year, which the new government would like to partly annul, he said it would take months to prepare changes.

He will strive for restructuring public spending, especially raising productivity and reducing structural deficit, which he sees as the main public financial issue.

Danijel Bešič Loredan, Freedom Movement, health minister

Hailing from Izola, Bešič Loredan became a doctor in 1999 and an orthopaedic surgeon in 2006. Starting his career at Ljubljana's UKC hospital, he proceeded to work for 13 years at the Orthopaedic Hospital Valdoltra in Ankaran. He has also worked in Switzerland and ran the orthopaedic department at the Nova Gorica Hospital in 2016- 2021.

The 50-year-old's current employers are the private medical centres Bitenc in Ljubljana and Šalara in Koper. Bešič Loredan has attracted public attention for highlighting corruption issues in the healthcare system.

Before the election he had indicated that he wished to remove politics from healthcare and "change what is understood under 'public healthcare'". "Public healthcare is the right of people to receive treatment ..., which needs to be secured by the state and it is through politics that fair, social and accessible healthcare can be attained".

After the coalition agreement caused a stir, saying that doctors and dentists in the public sector will be banned from working for private providers and that a non-compete clause will apply to them, Bešič Loredan downplayed the plans by explaining that both measures were planned for 2024, when the health system would be different and comparable to the systems of western countries.

During his hearing in parliament, he announced a clear strategy to deal with possible new waves of the Covid-19 epidemic by 15 September and plans to boost the primary level of healthcare to relieve the burden on the secondary level, including with an additional EUR 500 million in the next 18 months.

He also announced efforts to engage all capacities, including concessionaires and private providers, to shorten waiting times, with one of the first steps of the new team at the ministry being paying for all healthcare services performed this year and in 2023.

Tatjana Bobnar, Freedom Movement, interior minister

Bobnar, born in 1969, was the first woman to become the head of the Slovenian police force when she was appointed police commissioner under the Marjan Šarec government in late 2018. She was replaced by the next, Janez Janša government in March 2020 and assigned to a newly-established task force for migrations, in what was widely seen as an attempt to sideline her.

When it was announced that she was a candidate for interior minister, several civil society groups denounced her candidacy over pushbacks police conducted while she was the commissioner. Bobnar has said that if appointed, the basic tenet of her work will be a definitive strengthening of the rule of law, respect for human rights and basic freedoms.

Bobnar holds a master's degree from the Ljubljana Faculty of Law, but started her career at the Ljubljana Police Department as an investigator of juvenile crime, also investigating sexual abuse of children. Among the senior posts she has held are deputy police commissioner and Criminal Police Department deputy director.

As she presented her vision for the ministry at the parliamentary committee, she stressed efforts to restore trust in police work, independence and depoliticisation. She plans to pay special attention to femicide, and replace the border fence with cameras and drones, while also including the civil society, NGOs and local communities in efforts to tackle migrations.

She announced changes to the appointment of the police commissioner and chief of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and potentially an internal overhaul of the NBI, which has been criticised for becoming too politicised during the Janša government.

Marjan Šarec, Freedom Movement, defence minister

Šarec, born in 1977, became Slovenia's prime minister in 2018 after entering the national political arena as a newcomer in 2017 when he made it to the run-off of the presidential election in late 2017 with incumbent Borut Pahor. He had been a prominent TV and radio comedian before entering politics by winning the mayorship in Kamnik.

Having obtained a university degree in acting in 2001, he started working for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and soon made a name for himself as a voice imitator on the broadcaster's flagship satirical show Radio Ga-Ga and its several TV offshoots, excelling as the voice of two Slovenian presidents and several party leaders.

Elected mayor in 2010, he served two terms before entering the presidential race, and formed a minority government after the June 2018 general election. He stepped down two years into the job hoping for an early election, a move which backfired and led to the formation of the Janez Janša government. His LMŠ party failed to enter parliament this year and is merging with the Freedom Party, hence his ministerial candidacy.

He has announced that he will re-introduce the concept of territorial defence, and transfer the power of deploying Slovenian troops abroad to the National Assembly.

As the coalition agreement prioritises updating the concept of defence policy, he intends to revise some key documents that are considered outdated or inadequate.

Within NATO, he wants to open a discussion on target capabilities and assess whether the concept of building a medium-sized battalion group and a reconnaissance battalion goes in the right direction.

He announced changes to the long-term programme of development and equipment for the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF), the law on investments in the SAF for 2021-2026, and the defence programme until 2026.

Dominika Švarc Pipan, Social Democrats, justice minister

Born in 1978, Švarc Pipan graduated from the Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2003, and in 2011 she earned the PhD degree in political sciences at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences.

Švarc Pipan has worked as specialised assistant at the International Court of Justice and as defence counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

She was a state secretary at the Justice Ministry between 2018 and 2020. Currently, she runs a legal and business consultancy company. She is a vice-president of the Social Democrats (SD).

Appearing before the relevant parliamentary committee, she expressed her commitment to the rule of law as an ideal that everyone should aspire to and an essential element to restore trust in society.

Setting out her priorities, she pledged to focus on ensuring quality cooperation between the prosecution and the police in the phase of investigation not yet run by the court.

Among measures that would go beyond one government term, she listed a project to reform the court network, remove politics from appointments of judges and reform the system of the national bar exam.

Matjaž Han, Social Democrats, economy minister

Born in Celje in 1971, Han graduated from the Celje Secondary School of Trade and Commerce. He has been been a member of the National Assembly since 2004, doing double duty as the mayor of Radeče from 2006 to 2011.

He is considered one of the most influential senior members of the Social Democrats and headed the party's deputy group from 2013 through to the end of the previous parliament's term.

His family have a company, M&M International, that he ran between 1992 and 2004 before his spouse took over. He plans to divest his stake.

Han announced robust social dialogue but said there would be no cap on social contributions under the new government. He believes businesses should be helped in other ways, for instance through funds for development-oriented jobs.

His priorities will be better access to sources of financing, a more efficient business environment and more efficient administrative procedures, also for building permits.

Regarding the mini tax reform of the outgoing government, he said he would keep the solutions that have little impact on budget revenue.

Once the reform of the government portfolios is completed, Han will also take charge of sport.

Bojan Kumer, Freedom Movement, infrastructure minister

Born in July 1974, Kumer has a master's degree in electrical engineering from the Ljubljana Faculty of Electrical Engineering. His first job was with the power distributor Elektro Celje. His most recent job was at energy trader GEN-I in 2009, where he was a close associate of Robert Golob.

He was a state secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure in 2013-2014 and in 2018-2020, in between the terms and after he served as director of Elektro Energija, a power provider affiliated with GEN-I.

Once amendments to the government have been endorsed, Kumer is to take over as minister of climate and energy, and Alenka Bratušek is to return as infrastructure minister, a post she held in 2018-20. Until then Bratušek will serve as one of the state secretaries at the ministry.

In his presentation on the parliamentary committee, Kumer pledged to make green transition the guiding principle of energy and infrastructure policies. He promised further investment in railways and renewables, digitalisation of traffic flows and measures to mitigate soaring energy prices.

The cornerstones of energy policy would be stimulating investment in renewable energy, mitigating the impact of rising energy prices and creating a basis for a fair transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

He announced a special law to ease the siting of renewable energy sources in locations where this is possible. He sees potential in self-supply, community supply, and plans to promote development of agrovoltaics to give farmers the chance to self-supply.

Rising energy prices would be mitigated by means of targeted-measures to help vulnerable individuals and the businesses which contribute responsibly to development, as well as farmers. If necessary prices for all vulnerable consumers would be regulated. Kumer also mentioned emergency gas supply.

Uroš Brežan, Freedom Movement, environment and spatial planning minister

Brežan, born in 1972, is coming to the ministerial office from his fourth four-year term as Tolmin mayor, a post he was first elected to in 2006. He holds a university degree in economics from the Ljubljana School of Economics and Business.

Brežan served as a vice-president of the Slovenian Youth Party (SMS) in 2004-2014 and as a member of the upper chamber of parliament in 2012-2017. He entered this year's election race on the slate of the newly-formed Freedom Movement.

He announced changes to the recently passed environment protection act as well as action in water management, climate and housing policies while stressing the importance of environment protection. He plans to tackle degraded areas and improve oversight over emissions.

He will seek a broad social consensus and promote circular economy. He thinks a limited amount of waste could be processed in Slovenia in line with the highest environment standards.

In spatial planning, Brežan will give priority to the public and common interests over private interests, while he promised to draft a spatial development strategy until 2050.

Once the government is expanded, Brežan is slated to take over the new ministry of natural resources and spatial planning.

Igor Papič, Freedom Movement, minister of education, science and sport

Papič, born in 1966, holds a PhD from the Ljubljana Faculty of Electrical Engineering and served one term as the rector of the University of Ljubljana in 2017-2021. He is currently a professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering.

During his career he has also worked at Siemens in Germany, was a visiting professor at the University of Manitoba, Canada, in 2001, while also lecturing at various other universities. He has also served as dean of his faculty, and has led a number of projects, including international ones.

Before the parliamentary Education Committee, Papič announced a white paper on education would be compiled to set guidance for a decade, repeated the new coalition's pledge to raise science and research funding to 1.5% of GDP over the next four years, and pledged to assess the impact remote schooling has had on students.

As for public schools having private competition, he said "no-one opposes concessions, but the rules must be clear for everyone". Competition should be enhanced by having more quality universities, he said, adding that Slovenian public universities had fierce competition abroad but not at home.

Papič also wants changes to the national exams at primary schools, whose results should be one of the criteria for admission to the secondary school of choice, announced free textbooks and school meals, and said the workload on teachers should be reduced through recruitment of additional staff and less paperwork.

Papič will take over as minister of higher education, science and innovation when the current education ministry is split under the government's plans.

Sanja Ajanović Hovnik, Freedom Movement, public administration minister

Born in 1977, Ajanović Hovnik has a master's degree from the Ljubljana Faculty of Public Administration. She has served as a secretary of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) deputy group and worked at the Agency for Agricultural Markets and Rural Development.

She has also served as deputy director of the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy. Most recently she has been CEO of the company Smart Centre. She is the head of the Freedom Movement programme committee.

Appearing in parliament to present her vision, Ajanović Hovnik announced she would name a team to start talks with trade unions to reform the public sector pay system as soon as she gets appointed. The talks, which she expects to start this month, will be conducted in two-tier-way, to negotiate wages and the pay system.

She also identified as her priorities a reorganisation of administrative units to ensure greater flexibility of their services and changes to the administrative procedure act. The act would be reformed within two years to become a modern procedural rulebook to apply to both general and individual administrative decisions.

Irena Šinko, Freedom Movement, minister of agriculture, forestry and food

Šinko, who holds dual bachelor's degrees in zootechnics and law, has so far served as a senior adviser at the department for environment and spacial planning at the Murska Sobota administrative unit, a job she took after two stints as the director of the Farmland and Forest Fund between 2010 and 2018.

Before 2010, she was the head of the department for agriculture and economy at the Murska Sobota administrative unit.

She started her career as a technologist at the food company ABC Pomurka, and then went on to become an agriculture inspector at the inspection service of the Gornja Radgona, Lendava, Ljutomer and Murska Sobota municipalities, and a teacher of animal husbandry at the Rakičan secondary school for agriculture.

Šinko stressed the need for sustainable farming, environment protection and social sustainability in her presentation at the relevant parliamentary committee.

As minister she will strive to strengthen fair partnership among stakeholders, while paying special attention to producers. She announced measures to improve food self-sufficiency and adjusting to climate change.

Asta Vrečko, Left, culture minister

Born in Celje in 1984, Vrečko got a bachelor's degree in art history from the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, where she also got her PhD in 2014 following a stint as early-stage researcher at the Faculty of Education in Ljubljana. She is currently an assistant professor there.

She has also done extensive curatorial work, including at the Božidar Jakac Gallery, and has conducted research at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana focusing on Slovenian and Yugoslav 20th century art.

Vrečko has long been politically active, first as a member of the informal Workers' and Punks' University and then as a founding member of one of the precursors of the Left. She is a local councillor for the Left and vice-president of the party.

She has announced that her priorities as culture minister will be a development-oriented, modern and inclusive culture policy. She plans to overhaul media legislation and the status of the self-employed, and promote systemic investment in culture.

She also intends to review the decisions taken by her predecessor and restore dialogue with all stakeholders.

Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Freedom Movement, minister without portfolio for digital transformation

Stojmenova Duh was born in Macedonia in 1985 and emigrated to Slovenia as a 16-year-old. In 2009, she graduated in electrical engineering from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Maribor, where she also earned her master's and PhD.

She is currently an associate professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, where she also heads the digital innovation hub 4PDIH, having previously founded the national network of innovation labs FabLab Slovenija and headed the Digital Innovation Hub between 2014 and 2016.

Long a gender equality activist, Stojmenova Duh rose to public prominence as a vocal advocate of students arrested during protests against school closures during Covid and for publicly clashing with the Janez Janša government over digital spending and appointments at the National Research Agency. She ran for parliament on the Social Democratic ticket but has since left the party.

In presenting her vision to the parliamentary Committee for Interior Affairs, Public Administration and Local Government, she said she would strive to promote education of the young, especially women, in technical fields.

One of her first steps will be an analysis of the situation in digital transformation and continuation of measures that have proven successful so far. Her priority will be to reduce the digital gap and form a basis for efficient digital transformation of the society.

After the law on the government is amended as planned, the Government Office for Digital Transformation is to be transformed into a ministry.

Aleksander Jevšek, Social Democrats, minister without portfolio for development and European cohesion policy

Jevšek, born in 1961, started his career in the police force, where he rose to the rank of director of the Criminal Police Department in 2007. After leaving the force, he was elected mayor of Murska Sobota in 2014 as a member of the Social Democrats (SD), the office from which he is coming to the new ministry.

Jevšek has said that as a great advocate of Slovenia's decentralisation, he would like his ministry to be headquartered in Maribor, a city much closer to Murska Sobota than Ljubljana. He would also support proposals to transfer some other ministries from the capital.

He announced a bill on balanced regional development and a new development strategy. Jevšek advocates decentralisation with the creation of provinces; redefinition of general development tasks at regional level; and creating new business opportunities for less developed and border areas.

He urged introducing two principles in regional development policy - subsidiarity and the state providing funds when imposing a new service on municipalities.

He is confident Slovenia will fully draw funds from the 2014-2020 EU budget until the deadline at the end of 2023.

Matej Arčon, Freedom Movement, minister without portfolio for Slovenians abroad

Arčon is a 49-year-old electrician who started his political career early, as president of the Nova Gorica students' club. He went on to become city councillor in Nova Gorica and deputy mayor before serving two terms as mayor starting in 2010.

Previously a prominent member of the now defunct Liberal Democrats (LDS), he became the secretary of the Freedom Movement on its founding as a close ally and confidante of Robert Golob.

He won more than 15,000 votes in two districts in the last general election, more than any other candidate by far.

He believes his coming from the border area, with Italy, helps him understand the challenges Slovenians abroad face.

He plans to strive for cross-border cooperation, cooperation of ethnic communities, the Slovenian language and digitalisation, as well as providing Slovenian minority associations abroad with adequate information and funding.

* The indication of party does not necessarily mean that the candidate is a member of the party, they just fill quota assigned to the coalition party under the coalition agreement.

01 Jun 2022, 22:14 PM

STA, 1 June 2022 - Prime Minister Robert Golob's cabinet was sworn in on Wednesday and immediately took office after the line-up was confirmed in a 53:28 vote in the National Assembly 38 days after the general election. 

The left-liberal government, a coalition of Golob's Freedom Movement, Social Democrats (SD) and the Left, takes office amidst heightened international uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine and the looming energy and food crisis.

Golob acknowledged that it would not get the customary 100-day grace period and would have to get down to work right away, which is why his team features a combination of seasoned politicians and experts.

"I'm pleased we have such a good team and I look forward to the weeks, months, years and terms in office ahead, where I know this team will deliver good results," he said.

The new government team will initially have 17 ministers, three of whom without portfolio, but will be expanded once the act on the government is amended.

Golob has said tackling rising food and energy prices would be an immediate priority, along with making preparations for autumn, when the next wave of Covid is likely to hit.

In the longer term, the government plans to focus on the green transformation and climate change, reform of the health system and social security system, and a sharp focus on knowledge-based services.

Golob was elected on a pledge to normalise society and reform the way politics is done after a turbulent two years under the conservative Janez Janša government.

In his first remarks after the confirmation of the cabinet, he announced that a review of "all damaging measures" of the previous government would be conducted in a week, including all appointments, reassignments and legislative changes.

"We want to have a clear picture," he said, adding that they would decide what needed to be "restored to its previous shape if we want a normal state."

While domestic policies have been in the focus in recent weeks, Golob also said the new government would return Slovenia to its rightful place at the EU's core.

EU partners can expect that the new government will be more predictable and focused on strengthening the EU, instead of "going on solo actions trying to find a starring role."

Golob formally took over from Janša just hours after he got his new cabinet in a handover ceremony that saw the new and old prime minister take a conciliatory tone that contrasted with heated exchanges they had during the campaign.

Janša advised the new government to take his government as a role model when it comes to achievements.

He said the public finances were in good shape and the seas calmer than when his government took over two years ago, but he acknowledged that the there were many dangerous reefs in the water.

"We wish the government achieves good results. If they are good, it is good for all of us, if they are bad, it will be bad for all of us," Janša said.

Golob thanked Janša for a productive and in-depth handover and for everything good his government had done. "I would have done many things differently, but this does not reduce the importance of the successes they achieved."

He said they "agreed on many things," including the fortuitous timing, with the government starting its term early enough so that it can prepare through the summer for the challenges ahead in autumn.

"I wish the seas will be calm. But we have the privilege of the voters having been clear and giving us a lot of seats in parliament so that we have a firm coalition.

"I am confident that we can be successful and will not have to look for excuses anywhere outside of our circle... It is now time to stop talking and get down to work," he said.

30 May 2022, 13:27 PM

STA, 30 May 2022 - Tanja Fajon, candidate for foreign minister, announced that Slovenia would return to the core EU countries as she singled out commitment to shared values and the rule of law, and a distancing from the Visegrad Group, in her presentation to the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee on Monday, which endorsed her candidacy.

The EU will remain at the core of Slovenia's foreign policy, which is particularly important in an era of growing polarisation between democratic and authoritarian regimes, she said.

"I realise that we face hard work to restore credibility and the country's unfortunately eroded reputation," she said.

She plans to intensely strengthen friendly ties and alliances with key partners in the EU, particularly Germany, France and Italy, while moving away from the Visegrad group.

Map: Wikimedia CrazyPhunk CC-by-0 

Drawing on the constitutional principles of the culture of peace, non-violence and peaceful resolution of disputes, Slovenia should be recognised as "a country that respects human rights, and is committed to democracy, the rule of law, media freedom and EU values," she said, highlighting Germany and Benelux countries as role models.

EU enlargement to the Western Balkans is in Slovenia's interest and remains one of the strategic priorities, she said, announcing the appointment of a special envoy for issues related to the Western Balkans.

Fajon described migrations as an important challenge for the EU and said the EU must be capable of protecting its borders, whereby migration pressure "may no longer be a reason for destabilisation and internal divisions, or even a tool in the hands of regional powers."

"We need a comprehensive asylum, migration and integration policy that will facilitate an appropriate response to the pressure of irregular migration and make regulated immigration easier," according to her.

Turning to relations with Croatia, a major focus of the country's foreign policy, Fajon said she would consistently uphold the commitment that the border arbitration award must be respected.

This marks a break with the policy pursued by the outgoing government, which has put arbitration on the back burner in favour of reaching a diplomatic agreement that would be in the spirit of the arbitral award.

Under her watch, Slovenia will support Croatia's membership of the eurozone and OECD if it meets the membership criteria, and the expansion of the Schengen zone to Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania.

However, expansion of the Schengen zone will be "severely jeopardised" until the Schengen rules are reformed.

As for transatlantic relations, Fajon said they remained "the backbone of Europe's security architecture".

"Membership of NATO is the basis on which to upgrade relations and strategic dialogue with the United States, which are very important for us," she said, adding that the Western Balkans was an area of shared interest where Slovenia is recognised by the US as "an expert and a partner."

As for the Ukraine war and relations with Russia, Fajon condemned Russia's invasion "in the strongest terms" but said dialogue was the only way. "Permanent peace and stability in Europe, no matter how remote it may seem at this moment, cannot be achieved without dialogue and without Russia."

She said Slovenia needed to shift from support of Ukraine in name only to concrete actions by helping mitigate the humanitarian and financial crisis in Ukraine and participating in preparations for the post-conflict restoration of the country.

Fajon also mentioned relations with China when she said Slovenia's policy will abide by the one-China principle while strengthening relations with Taipei.

She said Asia held great potential for Slovenian business and relations with India should be deepened.

Fajon is in favour of the recognition of Palestine's independence, but said Slovenia needed to do this in concert with other EU countries.

She will support the formation of a coordinated foreign policy that will "take into account the right of Palestinians to their own country and Israel's right to security."

In general, Fajon praised Anže Logar, her predecessor, but said the country's foreign policy had often been overshadowed by Prime Minister Janez Janša's solo actions and the disputes he had engaged in on Twitter.

28 May 2022, 10:28 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, 20 May
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to regulate the situation of displaced Ukrainians and to help Slovenian business cope with the consequences of the war in Ukraine with favourable loans. It is designed to intensify the existing mechanisms of temporary protection and disburden state institutions overwhelmed by displaced Ukrainians.
        TURIN, Italy - FM Anže Logar attended a session of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, expressing solidarity with Ukraine in a debate on the CoE's response to the Russian aggression. He stressed that Slovenia condemned the aggression in the strongest terms.
        LJUBLJANA - It was reported that Slovenian gas distributor Geoplin has been left empty handed in an open call to apply for an increased capacity of liquefied natural gas terminal on the Croatian island Krk. Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec downplayed the gravity of the development, saying one Slovenian distributor was now in talks with the company that won the deal.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided the public interest of producing renewable energy overrides the public interest of nature conservation in the planned Mokrice hydro power station on the river Sava, after its first motion from December 2020 was defeated in court in late 2021. The government said its decision is in line with the court's guidance.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Commission approved an additional EUR 277 million in React-EU funds for Slovenia, money that will be used for a number of investments in aged care, healthcare, tourism and education.
        CELJE - Srebrna Nit, an association campaigning for dignified old age, presented a bill on voluntary assisted dying, saying it would ensure that no one would have to fear suffering before death. They plan to submit it to parliament with the requisite 5,000 voter signatures to initiate legislative proceedings.
        LJUBLJANA - Energy group Petrol reported that its sales revenue in the first quarter of the year more than doubled year-on-year to EUR 1.94 billion, while net profit was up by 17% to EUR 32.4 million. The rise is largely attributed to the incorporation of the Croatian fuel retailer Crodux into the group.
        LJUBLJANA - Matej Kavčič, a reporter for the Slovenian independent Radio Student station who was arrested and imprisoned in Iraq a month ago, was released. Kavčič went to Iraq as a freelancer in January to report on the minority group Yezidis.
        NOVA GORICA - The foundation stone for a new outdoor, 500-seat amphitheatre was laid in Nova Gorica, aiming to be ready for the city's stint as the European Culture Capital in 2025. The first stage of the project, backed by EUR 2.5 million in state funds, is expected to be finished by next year.
        LJUBLJANA - Beekeeper Boštjan Noč, head of the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, was honoured with the Golden Bee, an international prize for efforts to protect bees that Slovenia gave out for the second time on this year's World Bee Day.
        LJUBLJANA - Comic book artist Izar Lunaček was conferred the French Order of Arts and Letters, receiving the honour for his contribution to the promotion of comic books, popularisation of French culture in Slovenia and strengthening of ties between France and Slovenia this field.
        LJUBLJANA - Rating agency Fitch affirmed Slovenia's credit rating at A with a stable outlook, the move being based on a number of Slovenia's advantages, including EU and euro area membership, robust economic growth and strong fiscal support during the Covid pandemic.
        OSWIECIM, Poland - On the last day of his visit to Poland, President Borut Pahor visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum to get acquainted with the state of play regarding the renovation of Block 17, where a permanent exhibition on Slovenian internees will be set up.
SUNDAY, 22 May
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor hosted a ceremony to confer state decorations on five deserving individuals to mark 30 years since Slovenia became a member of the UN. Pahor said it was astonishing how quickly Slovenia had managed to carry out democratisation, declare independence, defend its territory and become internationally recognised.
        MURSKA SOBOTA - Maribor beat the defending champions Mura 3:1 to claim their 16th national football championship title. They turned things around in the last round and leapfrogged Koper, who played a goalless draw with Bravo. Maribor will now play in the first round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
        RAČICE, Czechia - Slovenian kayaker Anja Osterman won a flatwater 200-metre sprint World Cup event after finishing second in the 500-metre event yesterday. Another Slovenian, Špela Ponomarenko Janić, finished third. Slovenia's success was rounded off with kayaker Jošt Zakrajšek's bronze at a 5-kilometre event.

MONDAY, 23 May
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor announced he would nominate Robert Golob, the head of the election-winning Freedom Movement party, for prime minister-elect after holding consultations with deputy groups.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission recommended Slovenia and all the other EU countries to diversify their imports of fossil fuels and reduce their dependency by increasing the use of renewable sources of energy and strengthening distribution networks.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian corporate sector recorded a strong rebound in 2021, with overall revenue increasing by 24% to EUR 120.3 billion and net profit totalling EUR 5.7 billion, almost double the figure over the year before. The overall net profit reached 4.7%, its highest level since these records began in 2008 measured as a share of overall revenue, data by AJPES showed.
        LJUBLJANA - RTV Slovenija staff went on an hour-long strike to reiterate their demands for journalistic and editorial autonomy and an end to politicisation of the public broadcaster. They also demanded decent working conditions, a clear staffing policy and democratic social dialogue.
        LJUBLJANA - The Programme Council of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija did not back the proposal to appoint Natalija Gorščak director of TV Slovenija, the broadcaster's TV arm, after she was nominated by director general Andrej Grah Whatmough, who had dismissed Gorščak her from the job in August last year.
        LJUBLJANA - Historian Peter Vodopivec received Austria's Grand Decoration for Services for his contribution to the strengthening of the Slovenian-Austrian relations and cooperation between Slovenian and Austrian historians. In 2010, he received the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class.
        CANNES, France - Love In Plane Sight, a short film by Slovenian arts student Matej Rimanić, won one of the two main prizes of the Tik Tok competition organised at the Cannes Film Festival for the first time this year.
        VALENCIA, Spain - Cukrarna, a new gallery in Ljubljana transformed from a dilapidated 19th century sugar factory, won the Baumit company's Life Challenge international architectural competition. The project was selected as the best architectural solution and facade for 2022.
        LJUBLJANA - The leaders of the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats and Left signed the coalition agreement, exactly a month since the general election.
        LJUBLJANA - The first case of monkeypox was confirmed in Slovenia in a man who arrived from the Canary Islands. A second case was confirmed on the following day. LJUBLJANA - The Celje Higher Court upheld a three-month suspended prison sentence with one year probation against outgoing PM Janez Janša for calling two journalists "washed up prostitutes" in a 2016 tweet.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor signed off on the recalls of five ambassadors and the appointment of three new ambassadors under a proposal made by the government right before the end of its term.
        MARIBOR - Police charged Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič with inflicting slight bodily injury on a 13-year-old boy over alleged vandalism, an incident over which the mayor does not plan to resign. Before deciding whether to take up the case, the prosecution will most likely wait for an expert opinion.
        MARIBOR - Zdravko Kačič was re-elected rector of the University of Maribor for a second four-year term, having been the only candidate for the post.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly elected Robert Golob prime minister in a 54:30 vote, just over a month after his Freedom Movement won the general election in a landslide on a pledge to thoroughly reform the way politics is done. After being sworn in, Golob submitted his cabinet line-up to parliament, the goal being to have the government in office by early June.
        MOSCOW, Russia - The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment about "unjustified unfriendly steps taken in recent months by the Slovenian government" as it issued a statement on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. These steps are aimed at "destroying bilateral ties contrary to the historical logic of their development," it said.
        STRASBOURG, France - Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović urged ending all proceedings against civil society activists who had engaged in peaceful protests in Slovenia, and called for cancelling the penalties involved.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to include several projects into the existing 2022-2025 plan of development programmes of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) in order to make units more operative. Several new training aircraft and a simulator to train pilots in drone technology will be purchased to replace outdated equipment.
        LJUBLJANA - The outgoing government adopted a decree determining a methodology for calculating prices of medical devices and equipment which stipulates that the relevant government office captures data on purchase prices from healthcare providers from at least three EU member states.

        LJUBLJANA - Ivo Barišič, a member of the SNG Nova Gorica theatre who retired in 2014, is the recipient of this year's Borštnik Ring, the highest accolade for theatre actors in Slovenia. "Utter dedication to acting" is how the Maribor Theatre Festival described Barišič's career.
        LJUBLJANA - Author Mateja Gomboc was awarded the Desetnica Prize for best children's or young adult novel by the Slovenian Writers' Association (DSP) for her novel Balada o Drevesu (The Ballad about a Tree), "a moving story about love and loss".
        LJUBLJANA - In its report for 2021, Slovenia's anti-graft watchdog identified issues of integrity, conflict of interest and incompatibility of dual offices as the most problematic, and finds that officials often act against the law or deliberately ignore it.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian police briefly detained a Turkmenistan activist travelling with the Russian feminist protest punk rock band Pussy Riot ahead of the group's concert in Ljubljana, before releasing her. Lead singer Maria Alyokhina said her friend had been apprehended based on a 20-year-old Interpol arrest warrant based on false accusations.

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