Last Week in Slovenia: 13 - 19 May 2022

By , 21 May 2022, 06:43 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 13 - 19 May 2022

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

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FRIDAY, 13 May
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's new parliament opened with the confirmation of the terms of all 90 MPs and the election of former judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič as speaker in what is the first time that a woman MP will lead the National Assembly. The new opposition - the SDS and NSi - meanwhile tabled more than two dozen bills, a move that will delay the passage of legislation crafted by the new coalition.
        LJUBLJANA - The government asked parliament to terminate several bilateral agreements with Russia as a means of increasing political pressure on the country and contribute to peace. The initiative was formally tabled on the opening day of the new parliament.
        LJUBLJANA - A majority of RTV Slovenija trade union members opted to stage a token strike on 23 May in protest at a situation they describe as "unbearable" due to policies pursued by the management and the Programme Council. The strike demands include editorial and institutional autonomy and resignation of senior management and editorial staff.
        LJUBLJANA - A new regulation entered into force increasing the amount of state aid for the payment of social security contributions of religious staff. The figure has gone up from 48% to 100% of the average pay provided that religious communities meet some conditions. The bulk of the money will go to the Catholic Church.
        LJUBLJANA - The Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) announced it had revoked a decision to initiate the sale of two tourism companies, Istrabenz Turizem and Thermana, citing the recent change of the national tourism strategy. The government adopted a new seven-year tourism strategy on 11 May to stipulate that equity stakes in tourism companies in the BAMC portfolio remain in state ownership.

        LJUBLJANA - The presidency of the Social Democrats (SD) got acquainted with the content of the coalition agreement. The Freedom Movement and the Left having already endorsed the pact, the coalition agreement is now formally initialled.
        VIENNA, Austria - Ambassador to Austria Aleksander Geržina criticised Austria's decision to extend checks on the border with Slovenia, telling the Austrian news agency APA that the measure had not been properly justified by the authorities.

SUNDAY, 15 May
        LJUBLJANA - Senior officials spoke in favour of increased defence spending, in the face of heightened security risks at a ceremony marking Slovenian Armed Forces Day. "No matter how much Slovenia sincerely strives for the peaceful resolution of all disputes, it may not turn a blind eye to the current tense circumstances," said President Borut Pahor.

MONDAY, 16 May
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani hailed the good relationship between their countries and expressed the hope that Qatari investors would invest in Slovenia as the emir started a two-day visit to Slovenia, accompanied by a large delegation featuring the ministers of foreign affairs, finance and trade. Slovenia's SPIRIT agency and Qatar Holding LLC signed a memorandum of understanding on the occasion.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy expanded at an annual nominal rate of 9.8% in the first quarter of this year driven by household spending and capital expenditure. The seasonally adjusted rate was 9.6%. At the quarterly level GDP was up by 0.8%, a significant slowdown compared to the 5.3% recorded in the previous quarter, the Statistics Office reported.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission has downgraded its economic growth forecast for Slovenia by 0.1 percentage points to 3.7% for this year and by half a point to 3.1% for 2023. The rates are still substantial above those forecast for the eurozone. Inflation is projected to run at 6.1% in Slovenia and the rest of the eurozone this year.
        LJUBLJANA - Economist Marko Pahor assessed that the coalition agreement of the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats and the Left is much more leftist than centrist. He sees many of the priorities as expensive and thus unrealistic. Mitja Kovač expressed shock and disappointment, as the agreement "mostly deals with massive rearranging of funds and extreme increase in spending."
        LJUBLJANA - Doctors expressed strong opposition to the announcement in the draft coalition agreement that doctors in the public sector will be fully banned from working for private providers. Nurses, on the other hand, welcomed an announcement of better pay and of a new set of standards and norms for staffing and workload.
        LJUBLJANA - The MPs of the emerging coalition have filed a request to form a parliamentary inquiry that will look into alleged illegal financing of "party political propaganda in the media with funds of state-owned companies, state institutions or foreign institutions or entities."
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana city council endorsed the energy strategy for 2022-2030, envisaging a 40% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2008 and zero net greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century. Three hydro power plants on the Ljubljanica river are planned along with a waste-to-energy plant and number of solar power plants.

        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defence Minister Matej Tonin acknowledged that talks with Germany for a swap under which it would send Yugoslav-era tanks to Ukraine in exchange for more modern German armoured vehicles have stalled, but he said negotiations were continuing. He said the equipment Slovenia intend to send to Ukraine was ready for transport and Germany had been notified what kind of equipment Slovenia expects in return.
        LJUBLJANA - The names of the remaining nominees for ministers were revealed. The Left confirmed that the party's vice-president Asta Vrečko was slated for the culture portfolio and Simon Maljevac, the party's secretary general, for labour, the family and social affairs. Irena Šinko, a senior civil servant, is the Freedom Movement's candidate for agriculture ministry.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Five Slovenian MEPs sent a public letter to Austria and the European Commission criticising the recent decision of Austria to again extend police controls on the border with Slovenia, labelling the move as unjustified and disproportionate. They argue that this is confirmed by the valid EU law and the recent decision of the EU Court of Justice.
        LJUBLJANA - After the announcement in the draft coalition agreement that doctors in the public sector will be banned from working for private providers was met with pushback from doctors' organisations, Danijel Bešič Loredan, the candidate for health minister, said that such work would not be prohibited for now and was a more distant part of the coalition agreement that is planned to be in place by 2024.
        LJUBLJANA - Andrej Grah Whatmough, director general of the Slovenian public broadcaster, has put forward for director of the broadcaster's TV arm Natalija Gorščak, whom he himself dismissed from the job in August last year. RTV Slovenija said Gorščak was the only candidate to apply for the job in line with the terms of the call by the 13 May deadline.
        LJUBLJANA/ŽIRI - The Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) announced it had sold its outright stake in footwear maker Alpina to K&H, a Czech company that is part of the Franco de Poisd'eau & CIE group, for an as yet undisclosed amount reported to be EUR 20 million. The buyer has been picked not just because it submitted the best financial offer but also because of a thorough development strategy, BAMC said.
        LJUBLJANA - Prevent & Deloza, the Celje-based protective clothing manufacturer, has taken over Askö, the German maker of fire-resistant gloves for what the newspaper Delo reports is roughly EUR 2 million. The company plans subsequent takeovers to form a group that will offer a comprehensive range of equipment for firefighters, police and the military.
        MARIBOR - A memorandum of understanding between the SPIRIT agency and the Office of the Governor of Nevada was signed to help Slovenian companies enter the US market, a priority market for Slovenian companies as defined in a government strategy. The memorandum was signed on the sidelines of the PODIM conference.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved the re-introduction of a Slovenian scheme, including an EUR 150 million budget increase, to support companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the development of coronavirus-relevant products. The original scheme was approved in August 2020 and expired on 31 December last year.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor decorated four individuals for humanitarian work. Robert Waltl, a theatre director and leader of the Jewish Cultural Centre, received the Order of Merit, as did Ivica Žnidaršič, who heads the Association of Slovenian Deportees 1941-1945. The husband and wife team of Valerija and Ivo Čarman, founders of the Golden Bow Institute, a charity for children with cancer, received a Medal of Merit.

        LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) tabled a motion to call a referendum on amendments to the government act proposed by the incoming ruling coalition to accommodate for the changes they plan in the government makeup. The move was to delay the formation of a new government, but the prospective prime minister, Robert Golob, said he would stick to the plan to form a government by 3 June, albeit with the existing number of ministries, not the structure of departments he set out to have.
        LJUBLJANA - Robert Golob, the leader of the Freedom Movement and the likeliest new prime minister, said the incoming coalition sought to ensure employee involvement as he responded to criticism that the coalition agreement would push businesses into a corner. "A system under which the employer is the master ... and under which the worker has no say is a system of serfs. We do not want to be a country of serfs."
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry expressed Slovenia's full support for the decision of Sweden and Finland to join NATO, labelling the two countries as the closest partners of the alliance. NATO's door must remain open to European countries that want to join and meet the criteria for membership, it said.
        LJUBLJANA - The outgoing government proposed the recall of Slovenia's ambassadors to Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, Australia, Japan and Poland in what continues to be a series of replacements at some of the country's top diplomatic posts. The proposal will be now considered by President Borut Pahor.
        LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) filed a motion to call a consultative referendum on the amendments to the RTV Slovenija act that the party submitted itself on Friday. The motion will delay the final decision on the amendments as parliament cannot vote on the referendum motion in less than 30 days.
        LJUBLJANA - National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič told the STA she knew how to "leave her political convictions at the door" and pledged to be the first among equals to listen to all MPs. She believes that MPs should realise they are in parliament to serve people, not to "put on reality shows".
        MARIBOR - DEM, the company managing power stations on the river Drava, has been granted a building permit for a geothermal power plant at a wellbore in Čentiba in Prekmurje, the only Slovenian region reserves of gas and oil. The plant will serve as a demonstration project encouraging the production of geothermal energy.

        LJUBLJANA - The partners in the emerging ruling coalition will work hard to reach consensus both within the government and parliament, but when it proves elusive the Freedom Movement as the largest partner will tip the scales and Robert Golob as the PM will have the final say, reveals a protocol to be signed along with the coalition agreement.
        LJUBLJANA - The government revoked a deal to sell Yugoslav-made mechanised infantry combat vehicles in order to donate them to Ukraine, the newspaper Dnevnik reported. S Lux, the company commissioned to sell the vehicles, brought legal action with the Administrative Court asking for a temporary injunction.
        LJUBLJANA - Russia demanded that Slovenia reduce the number of staff at its embassy in Moscow by four within ten days, a move that comes a month and a half after Slovenia demanded an 80% cut in the number of staff at the Russian Embassy in Ljubljana due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Slovenia said it was negatively surprised by the move.
        WARSAW, Poland - President Borut Pahor began his official three-day visit to Poland at the University of Warsaw, discussing Europe's future with the students, and calling for a new convention on the future of Europe that would gradually lead to a United States of Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) continued to file legislative proposals after being relegated to the opposition, with the latest proposals dealing with two healthcare laws, the healthcare and health insurance act and the health services act.
        LJUBLJANA - Several civil society groups dealing with migrants, including the NGO Infokolpa Civil Initiative, denounced the candidacy of Tatjana Bobnar for interior minister due to pushbacks that police conducted while she was the police commissioner in 2018-2020. Bobnar responded by saying she understood the protest statement.
        NOVO MESTO - The Krka group posted EUR 432.5 million in sales revenue in the first quarter of the year, up 9% year-on-year. Net profit rose by 5% to EUR 90.7 million, the highest ever for a first quarter, the drug maker said.
        LJUBLJANA - Zavarovalnica Triglav, Slovenia's largest insurance company, posted a group net profit of EUR 33.2 million for the first quarter of 2022, a year-on-year increase of 25%.
        LJUBLJANA - One of the two persons treated in hospital for severe injuries sustained in last week's explosion at chemical company Melamin died, raising the death toll of what the worst industrial accident in Slovenia's history to six.

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