Last Week in Slovenia: 8 - 14 July, 2022

By , 16 Jul 2022, 07:00 AM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 8 - 14 July, 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, 8 July
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court legalised same-sex marriage and adoptions with immediate effect after finding legislation under which only heterosexual partners can marry and adopt children to be in contravention of the constitutional ban on discrimination. The court gave parliament six months to amend the law, as the government and the gay community welcomed the decision.
        LJUBLJANA - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked European countries, including Slovenia, for their support for Ukraine in its fight for freedom as he addressed the National Assembly via video call. He also called on Slovenian companies to join Ukraine's post-war reconstruction. The event was attended by Slovenia's top officials, President Borut Pahor, PM Robert Golob and speakers of both houses of parliament.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an emergency bill estimated at over EUR 200 million that is designed to reduce waiting times for health services. The core provision is the removal of the cap on the number of services the ZZZS public health insurer pays in a given year for the period between 1 September 2022 and end-2023.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar announced the Slovenian army will start removing razor wire from the border with Croatia in the week starting on 11 July, an effort expected to take 150 days. The razor wire and the fence were put up in the wake of the 2015/16 migration crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - The government established a centre in Postojna to accommodate 120 Ukrainian citizens who have been granted or requested temporary protection status. The first to move will be vulnerable Ukrainian citizens who are currently at the asylum centre in Logatec.
        LJUBLJANA - The government amended a regulation on renewable sources in transport in a bid to keep fuel prices in check giving Slovenian fuel retailers greater leeway in determining how much biofuel they add to their fuels.
        POSTOJNA - TV Slovenija reported that two Ukrainian staff had allegedly physically abused Ukrainian orphans staying in Slavina near Postojna. The local social centre received several anonymous complaints and the Labour Ministry suspended the two teachers replacing them with Slovenian ones. Oversight has been beefed up.

        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's treasury extended the issue of three bonds with a total value of just under EUR 405.5 million in what the first long-term borrowing under the new government of Robert Golob. This puts Slovenia's total long-term borrowing this year at EUR 3.27 billion.
        LJUBLJANA - Delo reported that a building appearing in a new Marvel series movie is very similar to the Kolašin WWII memorial complex Slovenian architect Marko Mušič designed in Montenegro in the mid-1970s, wondering whether this could be a case of a potential copyright infringement.

SUNDAY, 10 July
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian ICT companies generated EUR 4.55 billion in revenue in 2020, 2% more than in 2019 and 34% more that a decade earlier. Their value added reached EUR 1.74 billion, 10% more than in 2019, and the number of people working in the sector exceeded 30,000, data from the Statistics Office shows.

MONDAY, 11 July
        LJUBLJANA - The Energy Agency urged Slovenian gas consumers to use natural gas with care as a precaution as it declared stage one warning to notify the public of potential disruption to supply in the future in case of reduced supplies from Russia. Companies in Slovenia are looking for alternatives, but the business chambers said this would take time, funds and cooperation, while they also expect the state to help out.
        PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Interior Minister Tanja Bobnar attended an informal EU ministerial in Prague, telling her colleagues the Slovenian police has not yet detected major security threats stemming from the war in Ukraine, but is paying close attention, including to potential human trafficking.
        LJUBLJANA - The Advocate of the Principle of Equality urged legislative changes after reviewing the international protection act to find potential discrimination in provisions on unaccompanied minors seeking international protection. The Interior Ministry said it is willing to cooperate with oversight bodies.
        LJUBLJANA - Lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar is in the lead in the presidential race, according to a poll conducted by Mediana for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija. She enjoys the support of 23.9% of respondents and is followed by ex-Foreign Minister Anže Logar (16.6%) and Freedom Movement vice-president Marta Kos (14.4%). Kos meanwhile dismissed ex-Slovenian President Milan Kučan's argument that it would be inadmissible to have members of one party holding the top three posts in the state. She believes Kučan's argument is being abused by some other presidential candidates to disqualify her from the presidential race.
        MARIBOR - The shareholders of NKBM bank decided to sell NKBM's leasing firm Summit Leasing Slovenija to Biser Topco, the Luxembourg-based owner of NKBM's owner Biser Bidco, which is owned by the US Apollo fund and the EBRD.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's electricity output dropped by over 8% in 2021 while consumption rose by 3%. The country's output met 83% of its needs, down almost 10 points from 2020 but on a par with pre-pandemic years, Energy Agency data shows.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumption of natural gas rose by 6% in 2021 over the year before to a record 10,163 GWh since 2010, Energy Agency data shows. The total consumption increased with all gas consumers, and is attributed to an increase in the number of gas users and colder weather.
        COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Slovenia's capital Ljubljana and the country's second largest city Maribor fared poorly among 344 cities in the European Environment Agency's city air quality rankings - placing 279th (poor air quality) and 207th (moderately clean air), respectively.
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - Florjan Lipuš, one of the most important Slovenian minority writers in the Austrian state of Carinthia, received the Grand Golden Badge of Honour of Carinthia for his contribution to the preservation of the Slovenian language and for major literary work.
        LJUBLJANA - A total of 5,194 final-year secondary school students or some 95% passed the national school-leaving exam, known as the matura exam, which is close to last year's 97%. A total of 302 students passed it with flying colours, the same as last year, while the number of candidates that scored all points, rose by 3 to 18.

TUESDAY, 12 July
        BERLIN, Germany - PM Robert Golob paid his first bilateral visit to Germany. The meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz focussed on the war in Ukraine and its ramifications, EU enlargement, and bilateral cooperation. Golob said the goal of getting through the winter without Russian gas was very ambitious but attainable if the EU works together. Golob and Scholz agreed that the Western Balkans had been in the waiting room for EU membership for too long.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Finance reported that Slovenian hauliers pay a lower diesel price at Petrol service stations along motorways compared to the prices others pay, as they have commercial agreements with Petrol under which diesel costs the same as outside Slovenia's motorways. Business chambers confirmed the news. The Infrastructure Ministry declined to comment, while Minister Bojan Kumer said at the end of June there would be no such double prices in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Commission filed a lawsuit against Slovenia for failing to transpose the EU directive on electronic communications. A bill that would replace the 2024 electronic communications act was voted down twice under the previous government over provisions which would allow Chinese provider Huawei's exclusion.
        LENDAVA - It was revealed that the Administrative Court ruled in June that Hungarian minority MP Ferenc Horvath did not breach incompatibility of dual office rules when also serving on the council of a Hungarian minority organisation. Horvath said the court had found no conflict of interest because he represented the interests of the Hungarian community in both offices, and ordered the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption to change its decision concerning Horvath.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) expressed its opposition to the government's decision to remove the razor wire from the border with Croatia, arguing it had been taken without a security assessment and cannot be justified from the aspect of migrations and security.
        LJUBLJANA - The Economy Ministry allocated EUR 69 million to 20 projects to develop and restructure ski resorts into all-year mountain centres and construct additional or renovate the existing accommodation facilities. However, Kanin, one of the main ski resorts in dire need of an upgrade, did not make the cut.
        LJUBLJANA - The ZZZS public health insurance fund said the government-proposed EUR 200 million emergency bill aiming to cut waiting times in healthcare will not stabilise the healthcare system. The fund believes waiting lists should be brought up to date first to see how many staff and how much funds are actually needed.
        LJUBLJANA - Big Bang, the largest Slovenian consumer electronics retailer, announced it had signed a contract to acquire Sancta Domenica, one of the largest Croatian retailers in the same segment to created a strong regional player with 30 shops in two countries.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that after Slovenian retailer Mercator had been transformed from a joint stock company into a limited liability company at the beginning of July, its owner Fortenova is planning to merge certain business functions of Mercator and Croatian retail chain Konzum. The Mercator brand is to be preserved.

        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported the government is in talks to potentially buy Polish KTO Rosomak troop carriers, which would cost about half the price of the 45 German-made Boxers ordered by the previous government, a deal the new government subjected to an internal review. Previous Defence Minister Matej Tonin warned the KTO Rosomak vehicles are outdated and provide a lower level of safety.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission released its third annual Rule of Law Report, with Vice President Vera Jourova saying that past developments in the media in Slovenia, including the suspension of STA financing, had prompted the Commission to start thinking about media rules that would apply to all EU states. The justice and culture ministries as well as human rights ombudsman welcomed the report, with the Journalist Trade Union saying Slovenian media landscape was at a crossroads.
        KOUROU, French Guiana - Trisat-R, a nanosatellite developed at Slovenia's University of Maribor, was launched in space in French Guiana as the third Slovenian satellite to date, in what the university hailed as "a pioneering mission" in which only three European countries are taking part - Slovenia, France and Italy.
        MARIBOR - Franc Kangler, an ex-state secretary who served as Maribor mayor in 2006-2012, will not get EUR 588,000 in damages as the Ljubljana District Court rejected in a retrial his compensation claims for the trials in which he was either acquitted or the charges were dropped, according to the media. He is only entitled to EUR 50,000 for wrongful conviction in a case concerning a flat fortune teller Karin Ježovita received from the municipality.
        SERRE CHEVALIER, France - Half way through the 2022 Tour de France, Slovenia's defending champion Tadej Pogačar lost the yellow jersey of the overall leader at the world's most prestigious road cycling race, finishing 11th stage in 7th place.

        LJUBLJANA - Electricity prices for households and small and medium-sized companies will be capped from 1 September to August 2023, and households will pay between 15% and 60% less for electricity than now, depending on provider, Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer announced.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob appealed for political unity as he set out his government's plans to ensure energy and food security and address rising prices and inflation in parliament. The government plans to double strategic food reserves and replenish fuel reserves, as it declared level 1 threat with respect to electricity production.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission upgraded its forecast for Slovenia's GDP growth from 3.7% to 5.4% for this year, but it expects growth to slow down sharply to just 1% in 2023 compared to its earlier projection of 3.1%. Slovenia is expected to enjoy the second highest growth rate in the EU after Portugal this year based on a strong carry-on effect from last year.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed an emergency bill designed to tackle long wait times for health services by securing more money and prepare the system for a more sweeping reform that is to follow. It lifts the cap on the value and number of services that the public health insurer pays in a given year.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed the bill ratifying the NATO accession protocols for Finland and Sweden. Only the coalition Left reiterated its opposition to NATO enlargement and advocacy of Slovenia's quitting the alliance, voting against. PM Robert Golob said on the occasion that Finland and Sweden's decision to join NATO was "historic".
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly unanimously ratified an agreement between Slovenia and Italy on solidarity measures to safeguard the security of gas supply under which Slovenia can ask Italy to supply gas to protected customers in the event of supply disruptions, and vice versa.
        LJUBLJANA - The MPs passed an omnibus act filed to parliament with voter signatures to change eleven laws passed under the previous government that the 8 March Institute NGO deemed harmful to equality, human rights and the rule of law. The act restores the legislation to the state before it was amended by the Janez Janša government in fast-track procedures or without consulting experts.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the act on RTV Slovenija with which the government would like to reduce what it sees as the influence of politics on the public broadcaster. Under the changes, the existing programming council and the supervisory board will be replaced with a single council with 17 members in which more power would be given to the civil society and staff.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill on personal data protection that aims to transpose the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into Slovenia's legislation. The Information Commissioner welcomed the move, noting that Slovenia remains the only EU member state that failed to draft new legislation following the GDPR.
        LJUBLJANA - Pharmaceutical company Lek confirmed reports it had discovered an error in its calculations of wages which led to its staff being underpaid in the last 20 years by a combined total of about EUR 100 million. Lek plans to reimburse all current and former employees for the last five years with default interest for the last three years, the minimum required by law, despite appeals by trade unions for more money.
        LJUBLJANA - A further 1,738 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia in the latest daily count, an increase of 6% from the same day a week ago. Hospitalisations rose by 12 to 66 in a week, with ICU cases down by one to seven.


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