14 Jul 2022, 15:56 PM

STA, 14 July 2022 - Electricity prices for households and small and medium-sized companies will be capped from 1 September to August 2023 under plans announced by the government on Thursday. Households will pay between 15% and 60% less for electricity than now, depending on provider, Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer told the press after the cabinet session.

Prices will be kept low through a combination of lower duties and measures that will reduce the profits of power generation companies, according to Kumer.

The excise fee on electricity will remain at 50% of the headline level, whereas the contribution for renewable sources will be cut in half come September.

Electricity prices for households and small business, including those in multi-apartment buildings, will be limited to EUR 0.118 per kWh at the higher tariff, EUR 0.082 kWh at the lower tariff and EUR 0.098 per kWh at the uniform tariff.

"These customers have so far been among the most affected groups of customers," the minister said, adding that the final cost of electricity on bills would be reduced for all household and small business customers, regardless of the supplier.

"It is a measure that directly addresses the increase in energy prices," the minister noted, estimating that savings for the average household customer would be between 15% and 30%, depending on how expensive their supplier is.

For customers of the suppliers with the highest price, the government measure means almost 60%, Kumer said.

In absolute terms, the regulation of electricity prices means EUR 110 to EUR 334 in savings in the annual cost of electricity for the average household customer or up to EUR 1,000 per year.

Kumer did not disclose exactly how prices will be kept low beyond saying that Slovenia was fortunate that electricity generation and distribution were in majority state ownership.

The government has been engaged in talks with stakeholders across the entire chain and they will "optimise costs" while eschewing some of the profits, he said.

Slovenian power generation companies have been able to sell electricity at market price driven by huge demand in the EU, whereas their underlying costs have changed little.

Kumer noted that this was the first package of measures dealing with electricity prices, which would surely be followed by another package. In the coming weeks, the government also plans to address the issue of high gas prices.

14 Jul 2022, 13:10 PM

STA, 14 July 2022 - Pharmaceutical company Lek has 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. The company said it would reimburse all current and former employees for the last five years, as determined by law, with default interest for the last three years.

The error was discovered when the company switched payroll accounting providers and the new provider carried out a due diligence with an auditor.

Mistakes were detected in the calculation of allowances for absences from work such as holidays, sick leave and other forms of paid absence, and there were errors in the calculation of allowances for shift work, night work and for working in adverse working conditions.

According to the company, a thorough analyses was conducted to see which employees had been affected. "Social partners were included in the process of analysis from the very beginning," the company said.

Remedial measures were introduced on 1 May to compensate current and former employees for their losses since 1 January 2017. Employees will also receive interest for the money they should have received in the last three years, since 1 January 2019, Lek said.

Commercial broadcaster Kanal A reported last night that at least 3,000 employees had been affected since 2003, when Swiss pharma giant Novartis took over Lek, and some of the workers got about EUR 100 less a month because of the error, while the total damage had been estimated at about EUR 100 million.

Lek did not confirm these figures today.

An employee told Kanal A the staff had not been notified of the error until March. They demand compensation for the entire 20-year period. Under the law, they can claim back pay for only the last five years.

Kanal A reported that the pay slips at Lek in the last 20 years have been so complex that none of the employees was able to calculate or check the correctness of the pay calculation, which the in-house trade union confirmed in a letter to the employees earlier this year.

"There is reason to suspect that irregularities in payment out of wages, compensation, and the calculation of allowances have gone on for even longer. Lek has not actually denied this either," Rosana Lemut Strle, a lawyer for the employees, told Kanal A.

She hopes Lek will offer workers more than what they are legally entitled to.

14 Jul 2022, 10:44 AM

STA, 13 July 2022 - Slovenia's cycling star Tadej Pogačar lost the yellow jersey of the overall leader at the world's most prestigious road cycling race on Wednesday as he finished the eleventh stage in seventh place. The 23-year-old defending champion was 2 minutes and 53 seconds behind the winner, Jonas Vingegaard from Denmark, who claimed the jersey.

The stage from Albertville to the Granon mountain pass proved too much of a challenge for Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who had to concede victory to Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).

The outcome of the stage was decided on the 11-kilometres ascent to Col du Granon Serre Chevalier, with Vingegaard taking the lead a few kilometres before the finish line, while Pogačar was struggling hard in the last kilometres and fell well behind.

Vingegaard had previously mastered the Telegraphe and Galibier mountain passes well but Pogačar managed to respond to his attacks.

However, at Granon, the Danish attacked about 6 kilometres before the finish line, with Pogačar unable to respond. After losing his rhythm, he was unable to bounce back, which enabled some other competitors to overtake him as well.

"I got attacked by Team Jumbo-Visma, they played it well today. Tactically they did a really good job. In the last climb, it was difficult. But we will see tomorrow, I want revenge. Le Tour is not over!" Pogačar tweeted after the race.

Vingegaard, who finished second at last year's Tour, was 59 seconds faster than Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic) from Columbia. France's Romain Bardet (Team DSM) was third.

Vingegaard is now 2:16 minutes ahead of Bardet overall, with Pogačar in third place, 2:22 minutes behind.

Slovenia's other star, Primož Roglič, joined Vingegaard in his attacks on Pogačar at the Telegraphe pass but then let go and finished 11 and a half minutes behind the winner.

Vingegaard said the plan had been to make the stage as challenging as possible, as this would benefit him and Roglič. "I took a lot of time, but I wouldn't have made it without my teammates. They were extraordinary since the start," he said.

On Thursday, cyclists will face another challenging stage from Briancon through Galibier to Alpe d'Huez.

14 Jul 2022, 10:29 AM

STA, 13 July 2022 - As the European Commission released its third annual Rule of Law Report on Wednesday, its Vice President Vera Jourova said past developments in the media in Slovenia, including the suspension of financing of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), have prompted the Commission to start considering media rules that will apply to all EU member states.

"I will not hide that the situation in Slovenia, especially what we saw in the past, with the difficulties in the financing of the STA, and some other issues caused that we started thinking about having some legally binding rules, which will apply across all EU member states and which will protect media space better," Jourova said in response to a question about the developments at RTV Slovenija.

The Commission reacted with the preparation of a media freedom act where the Commission addresses the issues of public and private media, also with respect to financing and stability of functioning of especially public media.

In presenting the Rule of Law report, the commissioner said it would be a basis for discussion with representatives of EU member states, also about the media and the condition of journalists.

In the report, the Commission recommends Slovenia to strengthen "the rules and mechanisms to enhance the independent governance and editorial independence of public service media taking into account European standards on public service media".

It finds that the situation of media freedom and pluralism in the country has not improved since last year's report.

Despite legal safeguards providing for the independence of public service media, the report notes challenges regarding the effectiveness of those safeguards in practice in limiting political influence.

The report, which refers to a report by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom for 2022, points to the procedures to appoint the programme council of RTV Slovenija as most members are appointed by parliament, political parties and the government.

The Culture Ministry agrees with the main findings of the report, noting that it has been striving for greater independence and autonomy of public media, plurality, transparent ownership and transparent spending of public money for advertising. It also plans to improve working conditions for journalists.

The ministry noted in its response to the report that the new government had put forward a bill to reform council and management of the public broadcaster in a bid to de-politicise it.

The current programme council and supervisory board would be replaced by a single 17-member council none of whose members would be appointed by parliament. The bill is expected to be passed on Thursday.

EU sources commented on the proposed bill by saying that Brussels welcomed the government's willingness to take action and introduce more safeguards to protect the independence of journalists. However, the Commission's recommendation should also be seen in this context, they said.

The Commission's report finds that while funding of the STA has been restored and it gives the agency greater stability, some of the provisions in the financing agreement could indirectly affect its editorial autonomy.

The Commission also notes "a hostile environment, online harassment of and threats against journalists" as growing sources of concern, noting that several lawsuits against journalists with intimidating effect have been reported.

It recommends the country establish legislative and other safeguards to protect journalists, particularly online, taking into account European standards on the protection of journalists.

The Trade Union of Journalists (SNS) responded by saying Slovenian media landscape was at a crossroads and that future developments would depend on the new media policy and national media strategy.

The union also stressed that RTV Slovenija staff had been warning of the issues raised by the Commission for at least two months before they had announced a strike.

"For now the government is only trying to put out the fire with changes to the RTV act, while the issue of financing of the public RTV is not its priority," the SNS said.

Commenting on the Slovenian justice system, the Commission noted "some improvements in quality and efficiency, and regarding issues raised in the 2021 Rule of Law Report, such as the nomination of European Delegated Prosecutors".

However, it also pointed to concerns over the interior minister's powers to instruct the police in individual cases, potentially affecting independent work of state prosecutors and the European Public Prosecutor's Office.

"Rules governing parliamentary inquiries lack safeguards on independence of judges and state prosecutors - as required by Constitutional Court judgments. The government decreased, without consultation with judicial authorities, the previously agreed budget for courts, the Judicial Council and the State Prosecution," reads the report.

The Justice Ministry welcomed the report, saying that it reflected the actual situation in the country in the last two years under the previous government and that the new cabinet had already started to tackle some issues highlighted by the Commission.

As for fight against corruption, the Commission calls for removing obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases, including by ensuring the operational autonomy of the National Bureau of Investigation, increasing the resources of State Prosecution and revising the statute of limitation.

Slovenia should adopt and start implementing without further delay the anti-corruption strategy, the report says.

In the section on institutional issues related to checks and balances, the Commission pointed to deficiencies of the public finance act in securing the financial autonomy of certain independent bodies, and called for safeguards.

Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina welcomed the report and called on relevant institutions to study them and transpose the proposed solutions into Slovenian legislation as soon as possible. He also called for a public debate on the report among experts.

EU member states will discuss the rule of law situation in the EU based on the Commission's report in the autumn. EU affairs ministers will discuss the rule of law in Slovenia, Romania, Portugal, Poland and Slovakia in November.

The full report on Slovenia, in English, can be found here

14 Jul 2022, 04:32 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Delo: Polish KTO Rosomak carriers potential alternative to German Boxers

LJUBLJANA - After the government submitted the deal to buy 45 German-made Boxer troop carriers for a review shortly after assuming office, the newspaper Delo reported the government is now in talks to potentially buy Polish KTO Rosomak carriers instead. Citing several unrelated sources, Delo writes that KTO Rosomak carriers would come at about half the cost of the Boxers for the same number and similar configuration of the vehicles and could be supplied quicker. Former Defence Minister Matej Tonin warned the KTO Rosomak vehicles were outdated and provided a lower level of safety.

Committee proposes ratification of NATO accession of Finland, Sweden

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee discussed a bill to ratify the protocols on Finland and Sweden's accession to NATO and decided to propose to the National Assembly to pass it. The committee proposed that the bill be discussed at an emergency session on Thursday. Before the 13:1 vote, Foreign Ministry State Secretary Samuel Žbogar told the committee that Finland and Sweden had decided to join NATO in light of the changed security circumstances, mostly due to the war in Ukraine.

Jourova: Developments in Slovenia prompted idea for media legislation for all EU

BRUSSELS, Belgium - As the European Commission released its third annual Rule of Law Report on Wednesday, its Vice President Vera Jourova said past developments in the media in Slovenia, including the suspension of financing of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) have prompted the Commission to start thinking about media rules that will apply to all EU member stats. The justice and culture ministries as well as human rights ombudsman welcomed the report, while the Trade Union of Journalists said Slovenian media landscape was at a crossroads.

Freedom Movement officially nominates Kos for president

LJUBLJANA - The senior coalition Freedom Movement confirmed its vice president Marta Kos as its candidate for the autumn presidential election. The decisions by the party's executive committee and party council were unanimous. Mirta Koželj, the party council president, said there were no doubts in the party about the nomination, including in the light of criticism that if Kos won, it would be inadmissible to have members of a single party holding the three top positions in the state.

Committee okays healthcare accessibility bill, despite objection from the Left

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Health Committee approved for third reading a bill aiming to improve healthcare accessibility despite objections from the opposition and the coalition Left. The opposition believes the bill will not have the desired effect, while the Left believes it will undermine public healthcare. Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan told the committee that the bill was the first step of a healthcare reform.

NSi determined to oppose gay adoptions

LJUBLJANA - The opposition New Slovenia will use all legal means available to oppose the Constitutional Court's recent decision to allow gay couples to get married and adopt children and its ramifications, including any changes to the family code that will be based in this ruling, the party's deputy group leader Janez Cigler Kralj said. There is no such thing as "the right of adults to adopt children", said the previous minister of labour, family, social affairs and equal opportunities.

New crime police head speaks of "brutal pressure" under previous govt

LJUBLJANA - David Antolovič, the new director of the criminal police department, told 24ur news site he had never witnessed as "brutal pressure" on individual investigations undertaken by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as under the previous government. Antolovič was deputy NBI director when the NBI started investigating public purchases of the protective equipment during the first wave of Covid in 2020, which he believes triggered efforts to dismantle the NBI.

Regions confirm draft agreement to draw EUR 4.5bn by 2027

LJUBLJANA - The relevant bodies of Slovenia's two cohesion regions last week endorsed a draft agreement that would allow them to tap on EUR 4.5 billion in cohesion funds in the 2021-2027 period, as part of which the EU is to contribute EUR 3.2 billion. The agreement on partnership with the European Commission is one of two strategic documents needed to implement cohesion policy. Slovenia needs to submit it to the Commission as soon as possible or else it risks losing almost EUR 500 million in EU funds. The other document is operative programme for implementation of European cohesion policy in 2021-2027, which is still being drawn up.

Coronavirus cases up a quarter week-on-week

LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,845 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Slovenia on Tuesday, up 25.5% from a week ago but down 28% from Monday's three-month record daily count. One patient with Covid-19 died, the Health Ministry said. The number of patients hospitalised due to Covid at regular wards was 55 and another eight were in intensive care units, with the former figure by up 72% from a week ago. The seven-day average of cases reached 1,362, up 54 in a day. The 14-day number of cases per 100,000 was at 787, up 38 from the day before, data from the National Institute for Public Health shows.

Banks' pre-tax profit down 18% in first five months

LJUBLJANA - Banks in Slovenia posted a total of EUR 174 million in pre-tax profit in the first five months of the year, which is 18.2% less year-on-year due to higher operating costs and the creation of EUR 12.8 million in net impairments and provisions, the Banka Slovenije central bank reported. Deposits by the non-banking sector increased by EUR 392 million in May, while the volume of deposits by non-financial companies decreased by EUR 140 million. The total assets of banks in Slovenia at the end of May amounted to EUR 48.8 billion, which is an increase of EUR 522 million compared to the beginning of the year.

Third Slovenian satellite launched in space

KOUROU, French Guiana/MARIBOR - Trisat-R, a nanosatellite developed at Slovenia's University of Maribor, was launched in space just after 3pm in French Guiana. It was carried into space aboard Vega-C, a new European launch vehicle, as the third Slovenian satellite to date. Stakeholders watched the launch at an event the university organised in Maribor.

Report: Ex-Mayor Kangler entitled to damages only for Ježovita case

MARIBOR - Franc Kangler, an ex-state secretary who served as Maribor mayor in 2006-2012, will not get EUR 587,700 in damages as the Ljubljana District Court has rejected in a retrial his two compensation claims for the trials in which he was either acquitted or the charges were dropped. This was reported by the newspapers Delo and Slovenske Novice, which noted that the ex-mayor, MP, member of the upper chamber of parliament and state secretary, initially asked for a total of EUR 635,000 in damages.

Slovenia sides with FIFA, UEFA as Super League hearing starts

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Slovenia expressed support for FIFA and UEFA in the proceedings at the European Court of Justice related to the proposed European Super League project, arguing that the relevant rules in the statutes of the international organisations were not in conflict with the rules of the EU competition law and fundamental freedoms. Slovenia's position was announced by sources close to the EU as the EU Court started on Monday the hearing of the request of the Spanish court for an interpretation of the EU law in the lawsuit by the European Super League Company against FIFA and UEFA.

NKBM to sell its leasing arm to Luxembourg-based company

MARIBOR - The shareholders of NKBM bank decided on Monday the bank will sell its leasing firm Summit Leasing Slovenija to Biser Topco, the Luxembourg-based owner of NKBM's owner Biser Bidco. Biser Topco is owned by the US Apollo fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the former holding 80% and the latter 20%. Shareholders also appointed a new supervisor who will start her term after the ongoing sale of NKBM to Hungarian OTP bank is completed.

Rail freight transport in Slovenia up by 5% last year

LJUBLJANA - A total of 20.3 million tonnes of goods were transported by rail in Slovenia last year, which is 5% more than the year before, the Statistics Office reported. Almost two-fifths of the cargo was represented by unspecified goods in containers and mixed types of goods. The number of tonne kilometres covered amounted to 4,937 million, which is also 5% more than in 2020, the office said, noting that international freight transport, which includes transit, accounted for 86% of the total volume.

Greek human rights ombudsman visiting Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina has met Greek counterpart Andreas I. Pottakis, who heads Europe's section at the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), as part of hos visit to Slovenia. Pottakis has also been received by President Borut Pahor, Svetina's office said in a press release. Svetina and Pottakis discussed the role of human rights, foremost from the aspect of the war in Ukraine and the Covid pandemic, and issues which prompt people to turn to them for help.

Tadej Pogačar loses yellow jersey in Tour de France

SERRE CHEVALIER, France - Slovenia's cycling star Tadej Pogačar lost the yellow jersey of the overall leader at the world's most prestigious road cycling race as he finished the eleventh stage in seventh place. The 23-year-old defending champion was 2 minutes and 53 seconds behind the winner, Jonas Vingegaard from Denmark, who claimed the jersey.

Ljubljana ballet ensemble honoured in Italy

LJUBLJANA - The SNG Ljubljana ballet ensemble were honoured for their artistic achievements at the International Festival of Dance and Dances in Nepi, central Italy, last weekend after impressing audiences in Granada and Murcia in Spain with their production of Le Corsaire. Staš Ravter, director of the SNG Ljubljana Opera and Ballet, was happy with the outcome of the tour, which culminated with the ensemble being presented with the Schiaccianoci d'oro (Golden Nutcracker) award in Naples.

Syrian pulled over with a vanload of illegal migrants

MARIBOR - A van with Austrian licence plates and driven by a Syrian citizen was transporting 17 illegal migrants when pulled over by Slovenian police on the motorway in Pomurje, north-east, on Tuesday. The driver was detained for unlawful crossing of the border and will be taken before an investigating magistrate in Maribor, the Maribor Police Department said. The migrants he transported - citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq - meanwhile asked for international protection and were taken to an asylum centre.

Maribor successful in UEFA Champions League qualifications

ISTANBUL, Turkey - The Maribor football team has made it to the second round of qualification of the UEFA Champions League after winning a return match against Shakhter Soligorsk 2:0 in Turkey's Adapazari. After a draw in Maribor a week ago, the Slovenian team showed its supremacy tonight at the Atatürk stadium without spectators. Both goals were scored by Rok Baturina, in the 12th and 56th minutes.

13 Jul 2022, 20:21 PM

STA, 13 July 2022 - David Antolovič, the new director of the criminal police department, never witnessed as "brutal pressure" on individual investigations undertaken by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as under the previous government, he told 24ur news site on Wednesday.

Antolovič was deputy NBI director when the NBI started investigating public purchases of the protective equipment during the first wave of Covid in 2020.

He believes this investigation was the trigger for deliberate and targeted politically-motivated attacks on the NBI.

A day after the house searches were carried out in June 2020, the then Interior Minister Aleš Hojs accused the investigators of bias and unprofessionalism, he said.

Antolovič said that before these attacks, the NBI had been autonomous and immune to attempts at influencing investigations.

He also criticised for 24ur the decision to include NBI investigations in investigations of alleged offences against the public order as this is not in its purview.

The NBI was additionally hampered as some of its investigators were assigned to a task force tackling backlog at the Ljubljana Police Department and another in charge of migrations, including Antolovič.

He said the NBI had been founded to investigate the most demanding crime rather than tackling backlog at individual police departments.

The two task forces were claimed by some to have been set up to get rid of some senior police officers, including Tatjana Bobnar, who is now interior minister, and Boštjan Lindav, who became police commissioner under the new Robert Golob government on 1 July.

Antolovič, who became criminal police director in mid-June, decided to file a criminal complaint with the Specialised Public Prosecutor's Office for bullying at work.

"That period made me realise with what kind of people I was actually surrounded and what they were willing to do for certain interests," he said, adding the police force had a lot of work ahead to restore trust in its mission.

13 Jul 2022, 12:10 PM

STA, 12 July 2022 - The ŠKUC society, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, will host its annual festival between 22 and 31 July this year, bringing concerts, plays, a fashion show, performances, exhibitions, literary events, and workshops to Ljubljana's old town. All events will be admission free and will feature both established and up-and-coming artists.

The festival Dobimo se pred Škucem (Let's Meet in front of ŠKUC) will take place in the afternoons and evenings in front of the ŠKUC Gallery in Old Square.

The musical section of the festival will feature Lado Jakša's multimedia performance Plečnikova Misel (Plečnik's Thought), a tribute to architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957). A projection of photos of Plečnik's works will be accompanied by original live jazz music.

Concerts by Jakomini Jazz Trio and trio A Cuerdas, and performances by Martin Adam Stevens and Blaž Mencinger are also planned. Bands Atelje and Malamor, Samuel Blues and Miha Erič, Brencl Banda, Birds of Unknown, Martin Martian and the Universe, and Chris Eckman will also take the stage.

Theatre lovers will be able to choose among three plays for adults and a drag show Eat your makeup. Nine plays for children will be on along with three literary events for children.

Students of textile and fashion design from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering will host an exhibition and a fashion show dubbed Nature + Culture = Future. Young artists will present their work at a separate exhibition entitled Artopolis: Sodobna Neskladja (Artoplis: Contemporary Incompatibilities).

Like every year, a number of workshops will be organised for all age groups.

To mark ŠKUC's 50th anniversary, the festival will this year also present the society's film production. Damjan Kozole's Usodni Telefon (Fatal Telephone) and animation Socializacija Bika (Socialisation of a Bull) by Milan Erič and Zvonko Čoh will be screened.

In case of rain, all events will be moved to the Škuc Gallery.

See the full programme here

13 Jul 2022, 09:10 AM

STA, 12 July 2022 - Celje police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide that took place in the Šentjur area in eastern Slovenia on Monday. Initial findings indicate that a 61-year-old man shot his 64-year-old partner and then shot himself, Milan Vogrinec, chief Celje criminal investigator, told the press on Tuesday.

The suspect, who had no previous convictions for any offence, shot his partner several times with a gun, Vogrinec said, adding that no other injuries have been found on her body so far.

Six long-barrelled rifles and three guns were found and confiscated during the search of the murder scene.

The suspect, who was a member of a shooting club, had the needed documents and permits for the weapons, but the gun he had used to murder his partner was not registered.

Prior to the murder, the police had never had to intervene in any disputes or incidents between the couple.

The investigation into what appears to have been another intimate partner homicide in Slovenia is ongoing.

13 Jul 2022, 09:02 AM

STA, 12 July 2022 - The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has decided to allocate a total of EUR 69.14 million to 20 projects of development and restructuring of ski resorts into all-year mountain centres and construction of additional or renovation of the existing accommodation facilities.

The ministry will allocate EUR 63.42 million in subsidies for the restructuring of ski resorts as part of ten projects and EUR 5.71 million for additional accommodation capacities in the mountain centres as part of another ten projects.

Ksenija Flegar, the head of the Tourism Directorate at the ministry, told the press on Tuesday that the projects would result in more than 500 new beds for tourists and more than 200 beds in upgraded facilities with a higher rating.

Minister Matjaž Han noted that the ministry had managed to secure additional funds in collaboration with the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy and the Infrastructure Ministry.

Funds will be provided for all projects that had been initially positively evaluated, Han said, adding that an additional EUR 20.3 million had been added to the originally planned amount of EUR 48.8 million.

One of the two ski resorts that have not been selected is Kanin, the highest ski resort in Slovenia, with Han noting that the project by the municipality of Bovec for a circular cabin cable car had failed to meet all the criteria.

The minister said that he had invited representatives of the ski resort operator and the municipality to a meeting to find possibilities to co-fund the project from other funds.

Development and European Cohesion Policy Minister Aleksander Jevšek said that many projects would perhaps not be finalised by the end of 2023 due to the rising costs of the works that had already been approved and are under way.

"We have addressed this issue to the European Commission and in the coming days we will talk about how to resolve this situation," he said.

13 Jul 2022, 06:59 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Gas crisis tops Golob-Scholz meeting

BERLIN, Germany - The impact of the war in Ukraine, mainly the energy crisis, was one of the main topics on the agenda as Prime Minister Robert Golob met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin during his first bilateral visit abroad. Speaking to reporters, Golob said the goal of getting through the winter without Russian gas was very ambitious but attainable if the EU works together. The pair also discussed EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, with both officials stressing the countries in the region had been in the waiting room for EU membership for too long.

Report: Slovenian hauliers get cheaper diesel on motorways

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Finance reported that Slovenian hauliers are getting cheaper diesel at Petrol service stations along motorways compared to the prices others are paying, as they have commercial agreements with Petrol under which diesel costs the same as outside Slovenia's motorways. Business chambers have confirmed this for the paper. The news comes after Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer said in end-June there will be no such different prices in Slovenia. The Infrastructure Ministry declined to comment for the paper.

Companies looking for alternatives to Russian gas

LJUBLJANA - Companies have been looking for alternatives to Russian gas as supply may be disrupted, but this takes time, funds and cooperation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) told the STA on Tuesday, a day after the Energy Agency issued an early precautionary warning to gas consumers to use natural gas with care. Some companies warn they cannot switch to other energy sources on such a short notice. The OZS chamber of small business meanwhile expects the government to help out, including with measures such as a fixed electricity price. Businesses expect the government to present measures as soon as possible so that they can plan business operations.

EU Commission sues Slovenia over electronic comms legislation

LJUBLJANA - The European Commission filed a lawsuit against Slovenia for failing to transpose the EU directive on the electronic communications law, the government Office for Digital Transformation said. Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh regretted Slovenia had failed to transpose the directive in time. The bill, set to replace the 2024 electrinic communications act, was voted down twice under the previous government over provisions which would allow the exclusion of Chinese provider Huawei. A relevant bill now passed first reading on 1 July.

Administrative Court nods to Hungarian MP

LENDAVA - The Administrative Court has ruled in favour of Hungarian minority MP Ferenc Horvath in a case in which he challenges the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption's decision that he breached incompatibility of dual office rules because he also served 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. The decision cannot be appealed, but the commission will request revision of the procedure, and if necessary, later propose changes to the integrity and prevention of corruption act.

FM meets reps of minority in Hungary

SZENTGOTTHARD, Hungary - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon met the representatives of the Slovenian minority in Hungary as she visited Szentgotthard. The community presented to her topical issues and challenges, while the minister praised their work for the preservation and development of the community, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release. The meeting was attended by Erika Köleš-Kiss, the representative of the Slovenian community in Hungarian parliament, Karel Holec, the president of the Slovenian Self-Governing Community, and Andrea Kovacs, the president of the Association of Slovenians in Hungary. Tomorrow, Fajon will take part in a ministerial of Central 5 countries in Budapest.

Coalition moves to prevent referendum on new Covid law

LJUBLJANA - The three ruling coalition parties tabled a proposal to ban a referendum challenging the latest changes to the communicable diseases act which govern epidemic restrictions. They argue that a bill that aims to remedy unconstitutionality must not be subject to a referendum. The move comes after two petitions for a referendum on the changes to the communicable diseases act were filed last week by ad-hoc groups Conscious Residents of Slovenia and the People's Coalition.

NGO's omnibus bill set for vote at plenary

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Home Affairs Committee endorsed in a 9:6 vote a bill the 8 March Institute NGO filed to repeal what it sees as harmful measures taken by the previous government. The government supports the bill, which will be put to a vote at the plenary session on Thursday, while the opposition announced its plan to challenge it at the Constitutional Court. The omnibus bill aims to amend 11 laws changed by the Janez Janša government in a bid to eliminate harmful political measures and ensure respect for the rule of law.

Conflicting warnings allege political interference at public broadcaster

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) denounced the ruling coalition's intention to replace RTV Slovenija management under a fast-track procedure intended for emergency situations as the most brutal political attempt yet to interfere in the public broadcaster. This is after the coalition decided to fast-track a new bill on the public broadcaster yesterday. Meanwhile, RTV journalists' unions urged the broadcaster's director general Andrej Grah Whatmough not to appoint Uroš Urbanija as TV Slovenija director.

NSi against removal of fence on the border with Croatia

LJUBLJANA - The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) expressed its opposition to the government's decision to remove the razor wire from the border with Croatia, where it was erected after the 2015 migration crisis. The party believes the decision has been taken without a security assessment and cannot be justified from the aspect of migrations and security. The NSi is sceptical technical means such as drones will ensure the same level of security as "the tactical hurdles", MP Janez Žakelj said.

Almost half of sustainability bond funds for healthcare

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has allocated most of the EUR 1.05 billion raised with the issuance of its first sustainability bond for projects and programmes in healthcare and for decarbonisation of transport, mostly investments in railway infrastructure, shows the first report on the distribution and effects of the funds collected with the bond. The report covers fiscal years 2020 and 2021, but this year Slovenia increased last year's EUR 1.05 billion issue by EUR 50 million and EUR 90 million.

New coronavirus cases hit three-month high

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reported 2,365 cases of coronavirus for Monday, the highest figure in three months, and 29% more than the same day a week ago. One patient with Covid-19 died as hospital figures remained stable, data from the Health Ministry shows. The 14-day case notification rate per 100,000 of the population rose to 749, up by 55, according to the National Institute of Public Health.

EUR 69m for upgrade of ski resorts to all-year centres

LJUBLJANA - The Economy Ministry has allocate EUR 69.14 million to 20 projects of development and restructuring of ski resorts into all-year mountain centres and construction of additional or renovation of the existing accommodation facilities. EUR 63.42 million in subsidies will be available for restructuring ski resorts as part of ten projects and EUR 5.71 million for additional accommodation capacities in the mountain centres as part of another ten projects. The projects are expected to result in more than 500 new beds for tourists and more than 200 beds in upgraded facilities with a higher rating.

ZZZS unhappy with bill aiming to cut waiting times in healthcare

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 ZZZS believes waiting lists should be brought up to date because currently the data on the number of patients and the waiting periods is not accurate. Only then will it be possible to see how many staff and how much funds are actually needed. Senior ZZZS officials also regret that "there was no dialogue with key stakeholders", echoing the view of trade unions.

Two Ukrainian teachers suspected of mistreating orphans

POSTOJNA - A Labour Ministry team visited the Ukrainian orphans staying in Slavina near Postojna last week after the local social centre received several anonymous complaints alleging that some Ukrainian teachers were mistreating the children. The ministry decided to suspend two Ukrainian teachers and replace them with Slovenian teachers. "The staff was told that any kind of violence is inadmissible and that there will be more oversight of the work at the orphanage," the ministry told the STA today.

Ljubljana's air quality categorised as poor

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Slovenia's capital has placed 279th among 344 cities in the European city air quality viewer with its air quality categorised as poor. Maribor, the country's second-largest city, ranks 207th having moderately clean air. The ranking, released on the website of the European Environment Agency, classifies cities from the cleanest to the most polluted on the basis of average levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, over the past two calendar years.

Consumer electronic retailer Big Bang buying Croatian counterpart

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. The deal needs to be approved by competition protection regulators. Big Bang said the strategic partnership with Sancta Domenica created a strong regional player with 30 shops in two countries. Big Bang is owned by an affiliate of Adventura Holding, a firm controlled by businessman Darko Klarič.

Mercator to merge certain activities with Konzum

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 the month, its owner Fortenova is planning to merge certain business functions of Mercator and the Croatian retail chain of Konzum. Unofficial information obtained by Dnevnik suggests some business functions will first be merged in Bosnia-Herzegovina and later in Serbia, but the Mercator brand is to be preserved.

Florjan Lipuš gets Grand Golden Badge of Honour of Carinthia

KLAGENFURT, Austria - Florjan Lipuš, who is considered the most important writer of the Slovenian minority in the Austrian state of Carinthia, received the Grand Golden Badge of Honour of Carinthia on Monday for his contribution to the preservation of the Slovenian language and for major literary work. On presenting him with the honour, Carinthian Governor Peter Kaiser described Lipuš as one of the most important representatives of Slovenian literature in Carinthia and in Austria as a whole.

12 Jul 2022, 17:07 PM

STA, 12 July 2022 - Prime Minister Robert Golob met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Tuesday in what is his first bilateral visit abroad. After the meeting, Golob said the goal of getting through the winter without Russian gas is very ambitious but attainable if the EU works together.

The impact of the war in Ukraine, mainly the energy crisis, was one of the main topics of the meeting.

Golob noted there were synergies between EU member states that could be tapped into to get through this winter without Russian gas or any "imposed reduction" on gas supply provided there are adequate gas-saving schemes.

Together, the EU can get through this crisis and achieve this very challenging goal, he told a press conference after the meeting.

Scholz said that the EU will have to do its best to reduce its energy dependency on Russia, pointing to efforts to set up infrastructure that would enable oil and gas extraction from other sources in the short term.

Both Golob and Scholz think that political, military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine must continue as should sanctions against Russia.

The pair also discussed EU enlargement to the Western Balkans with both of them highlighting that countries in the region had been in the waiting room for EU membership for 20 years - too long.

Golob believes that ways need to be found for these countries to take individual steps and achieve success on their path to EU membership.

"Unfortunately, this process, the way it has been done, is a process that led to apathy in these countries because it is absolutely too slow," he warned.

In 2003, the six countries of the Western Balkans were promised a fast-paced and realistic EU perspective, but since then not much has happened, Scholz said, so Germany and Slovenia would like to work together to give fresh impetus to this accession process and to soon welcome the region's countries into the EU.

Asked about Slovenia's purchase of Boxer armoured vehicles that hangs in the air and may complicate Slovenia-Germany relations, Scholz said that he had briefly discussed this with Golob.

The Golob government may withdraw from the agreement, which was signed with the German supplier of Boxer carriers Artec, depending on the outcome of the review of the previous government's deal. Scholz acknowledged the purchase is currently under review, and called for making rapid progress together on this issue.

Golob said that he and Scholz had talked potential cooperation in supplying Ukraine with weapons, but they had not discussed the ongoing review of the Boxer deal.

"We do not expect this review to complicate relations in any way, also because we are exploring different options on how to get out of this situation in the event the review shows that this purchase is inappropriate for us," the prime minister said. There is not just one option, but several, and they will be presented to the public in the coming months, he added.

This was Golob's first bilateral visit abroad after he assumed office in early June. He told the press it was no coincidence that he visited Berlin first as Germany is Slovenia's key trading partner and has been its "most important friend and ally" ever since Slovenia gained independence.

There are no open issues between the two countries, said Golob, who was accompanied in Berlin by Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer.

Scholz is confident that he and Golob will work well together, especially in light of challenging issues that face the EU and can only be tackled together, on both bilateral and EU levels.

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