Šarec for thorough reflection on EU mission for Ukraine
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec welcomed a proposal for a potential EU training mission for Ukraine as part of the bloc's ongoing support for the country, as he attended an informal meeting of EU defence ministers in Prague. However, he also stressed the need for "thorough reflection and an in-depth discussion" before the EU would take the final decision, the Defence Ministry said. The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after the meeting that the ministers agreed to launch the necessary preparations to define the legal and operative basis of a potential new mission, which would then serve to take the final decision.
Ruling party's candidate for president withdraws her bid
LJUBLJANA - Marta Kos, the ruling party's presidential candidate, withdrew her bid for the 23 October election, citing "change of circumstances out of personal reasons". The Freedom Movement will discuss further steps in the coming days, the party said, adding it would focus on the November local elections. Kos, a former diplomat whom polls suggest does not have a chance to win the election, indicated she would continue to serve as a vice-chair of the Freedom Movement. Political analyst Andraž Zorko said Kos's move came as a disappointment to an important part of the electorate, wondering whether the largest coalition party can afford not to have its own candidate. He believes the votes that would go to Kos are now more likely to go to ex-Information Commissioner Nataša Pirc Musar than to ex-FM Anže Logar.
Slovenia promoting bid for UN Security Council at BSF
BLED - Slovenia has used the opportunity of the 17th Bled Strategic Forum to promote its bid to win a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2024-2025, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon told the press on the last day of the BSF after meeting several Asian and African ambassadors at the UN earlier in the day. She said she had received positive feedback, and announced several more such meetings. Slovenia's candidacy will gather momentum after the general debate of the UN General Assembly starting in mid-September is followed by the official presentation of the bid. One of Slovenia's main slogans will be building bridges and trust, while the green dimension will also feature prominently in the campaign, she said.
Debate: No need for new enlargement strategy for W Balkans
BLED - The EU does not need a new enlargement strategy for the Western Balkans, agreed the participants of debate on the region at the close of the 17th Bled Strategic Forum (BSF). A new strategy is not needed, the existing strategy must be implemented, said Miroslav Lajčak, the EU's special representative for Belgrade-Prishtina dialogue and former high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, adding that the EU was ready for a new enlargement. The current high representative in Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, added the EU needed to do everything to accelerate the EU integration of the Western Balkans. At the discussion on the Western Balkans featuring the region's foreign ministers as a mainstay of the BSF, Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turković said the prospects of her country getting candidate status were diminishing.
Fajon favours suspension of Russia visa regime over ban
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - EU foreign ministers gathered in Prague to try and reach a political consensus on the bloc's visa policy with Russia. Slovenia's Tanja Fajon said that the country would honour any agreement that is reached, but she is personally more in favour of a suspension of the existing EU visa agreement with Russia. "I'm reserved about a ban on the issuance of tourist visas because it could harm citizens who want to flee the Russian regime," she told the press on arrival at the informal meeting.
Fajon and Croatian counterpart plan trilateral with Austria, focus remains on Balkans
BLED - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon told the press at the Bled Strategic Forum that she had discussed with her Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radman on the sidelines of the forum plans for a trilateral meeting with their Austrian counterpart. The meeting, modelled on the meetings of the presidents of the three countries, is meant to be held soon in Croatia. Fajon and Grlić Radman also discussed Croatia's entry into Schengen and the euro areas, the energy crisis and the rising costs of living. Fajon also underlined the strategic importance of the Western Balkans for Slovenia.
Prime Minister Golob due in Paris on Thursday
LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob is scheduled to travel to Paris on Thursday for talks with French President Emanuel Macron, his second bilateral visit abroad after he held talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in July. Golob and Macron will exchange views on energy issues, the green transition, and EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, the prime minister's office said. They will also explore opportunities for stronger economic cooperation.
New approaches to tourism discussed at BSF
BLED - The need to put the tourism industry on a completely new footing post-Covid rather than return to business-as-usual amidst pre-pandemic visitor numbers was highlighted at a panel on tourism held at the Bled Strategic Forum. Maja Pak, head of the Slovenian Tourist Board, noted that as the industry recovers from Covid, it needs to be bolder, more innovative and more inclusive. It must leverage new technologies and be mindful of environmental and social sustainability. Economy Minister Matjaž Han said that Slovenia was aware of the challenges and the new seven-year tourism strategy paved the way for a more sustainable tourism.
AmCham Bled debate highlights pivotal role of ESG
BLED - Sustainability criteria enshrined in the concept of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) are a tool for a safer and better future, stressed the participants of the AmCham business breakfast at the Bled Strategic Forum. Engagement, empowerment and leading by example are necessary for the success of this process, the panellists stressed. US Ambassador to Slovenia Jamie L. Harpootlian said the window of opportunity to act on major challenges facing humanity was small and what will be required is joint action by business and governments, supported by capital markets, she added.
Rise in illegal migration gaining pace
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian police handled 8,212 cases of migrants entering the country illegally in the first seven months of the year, up 80% from the same period last year. This is after a 75% rise for the first six months. Police statistics show Afghanistan continues as the biggest source of undocumented migrants arriving in Slovenia, but their proportion has been decreasing in recent weeks so they now represent only a fifth of the total figure. Collectively, the largest group come from the Indian sub-continent.
Debate stresses need for good media legislation to address challenges
LJUBLJANA - The importance of good media legislation was stressed as support for public service media in the EU was discussed in a round-table organised by the European Parliament's Liaison Office in Slovenia. The press community has high hopes about the upcoming European Media Freedom Act, but panellists agreed that countries must also seek their own solutions. European Parliament Vice-President Katarina Barley highlighted that media freedom and attacks on the media, the concentration of ownership and the lack of transparency, as well as the issue of different funding models as the the key challenges facing the media.
Public sector trade unions urge parliament to act on RTV
LJUBLJANA - The public sector trade union association KSJS expressed shock at developments at the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija since Uroš Urbanija was appointed director of TV Slovenija. Voicing support for the RTV trade unions and all employees, it urged the National Assembly to study the possibility of dismissing members of the RTV programme council. Meanwhile, the Slovenian Directors' Association criticised the Ljubljana Labour Court for ruling RTV director general Andrej Grah Whatmough met the requirement of sufficient managerial experience by running his own companies without employees.
New state secretary named at Digital Transformation Office
LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Aida Kamišalić Latifić as a state secretary at the Digital Transformation Office after relieving Matej Kalan of his duties at a correspondence session. An associate professor of IT at the Maribor Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Kamišalić Latifić has almost 20 years of experience in research and teaching. She is one of the authors of the initiative EduCTX and holder of the 2020 Slovenian Female Engineer of the Year title.
Unemployment rate steady at 4.2% in Q2
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's unemployment rate in the second quarter was at 4.2%, down by 0.1 percentage point from the quarter before. While the number of the unemployment remained unchanged year-on-year, long-term unemployment subsided, while precarious work went up, shows the latest data from the Statistics Office. According to the labour-force survey, 59,000 people (or 6% of the actively employed) did precarious work in the second quarter, up by 11% from the quarter before and a 7% rise year-on-year.
Covid cases down slightly on Monday
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia confirmed 2,165 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, down 7% on the week before as the gradual decline continues. There were no deaths, Health Ministry data show. A total of 75 patients were treated in hospitals for Covid-19 as their main condition, the same as the day before, among them 16 in intensive care, up by five. Overall hospitalisations remain lower than a week ago, but ICU cases have gone up by nearly 50%. The number of active cases is estimated at around 20,440.
Pahor honours engineer, business executives
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor conferred state decorations on three deserving individuals at Presidential Palace. Civil engineer Marjan Pipenbaher was honoured for bridge design, including the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia, which was inaugurated in July as the biggest infrastructural project in Croatia's history. Anka Lipušček Miklavčič, ex-CEO of dairy Mlekarna Planika, was honoured for preserving local customs and KLS Ljubno CEO Bogomir Mirko Strašek for his contribution to the Slovenian economy.
Battery maker Tab switches to single-tier management
MEŽICA - Tab, a maker of lead-acid batteries and one of Slovenia's largest exporters, will transition to single-tier management on 1 September after the annual general meeting appointed today three members of the board of directors, among them Bogomir Auprih, the current director and largest single shareholder. The shift to single-tier management, confirmed by shareholders last year, will make decision-making easier, Auprih told the press. The shareholders also confirmed the allocation of distributable profit as they endorsed the proposal of management that EUR 10.3 million of the EUR 26.8 million be paid out for dividends of EUR 40 gross per share.
Unior posts higher half-year sales and profit
ZREČE - Unior, a state-owned tool maker and automotive supplier, saw its half-year group net sales revenue rise by 16% year-on-year to EUR 141.6 million as net profit went up by a good quarter to EUR 8.1 million. In June, the group sold its 49% stake in Unior Tepid in Romania, which had a negative impact on the group bottom line of EUR 1.1 million, according to a report posted on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.
Poet and translator Kristina Kočan wins Veronika Prize
CELJE - Kristina Kočan received this year's Veronika Prize for best collection of poetry for Selišča (Settlements) at an awards ceremony at Celje Castle, while Iztok Osojnik was given the Golden Coin of Poetry for lifetime achievements. The Veronika Prize has been given out by the Celje municipality since 1997, but has long ago surpassed the local boundaries to enjoy the status of national prize.