23 Aug 2022, 11:58 AM

STA, 22 August 2022 - Lawyer and ex-Information Commissioner Nataša Pirc Musar tops the latest public opinion poll measuring support for the presidential election conducted by Mediana for the newspaper Delo. Pirc Musar has been picked by 26.1% of respondents, and is followed closely by former Foreign Minister Anže Logar.

Logar mustered 23.4%, while Marta Kos, a vice-president of the ruling Freedom Movement, is the only other presidential candidate with a substantial backing, polling at 14.1%.

The remaining candidates for the 23 October elections are far behind, with former Foreign Minister and MEP Ivo Vajgl receiving the backing of 3.2% of the respondents, followed by gynaecologist Sabina Senčar (2.9%) and psychoanalyst Nina Krajnik (0.8%).

More than 15.1% of the 501 respondents polled on 16-18 August were undecided, 4.1% said they would not vote for any of the candidates and 3.8% said they would not vote at all.

Delo notes that, given the latest public opinion polls, a run-off is very likely, and if it featured Pirc Musar and Logar, 44.4% would vote for the former and 30.9% for the latter.

A run-off featuring Pirc Musar and Kos would see Pirc Musar get 35.2% and Kos 20.7%, with 44.1% of the respondents undecided.

Pirc Musar would get a majority of the votes of those would vote for Logar (68%) and Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič (60%) in the first round, while Kos would be endorsed by supporters of Vajgl (77%) and Senčar (67%).

Delo's analyst Roman Zatler commented on the poll by saying that the difference between Pirc Musar and Logar is too small to make a reliable prediction of who would win the first round of the presidential election.

On the other hand, the difference between Pirc Musar and Kos, and between Logar and Kos is so large that the vice-president of Freedom Movement is very unlikely to surpass either of the two leading candidates.

If the undecided are eliminated from the poll, Pirc Musar would get 59% and Logar 41% of the vote, Zatler said, adding that in a run-off, Pirc Musar would get a majority of the votes of those who would in the first round vote for Kos (93%), Vajgl (79%) and Prebilič (67%), while Logar would get votes from supporters of Krajnik.

13 Aug 2022, 04:17 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, 5 August
        LJUBLJANA - Police officers acted unprofessionally and used disproportionate force in four separate instances at anti-government protests held throughout 2021, shows an Interior Ministry report on complaints against police work. The Interior Ministry has notified the State Prosecution of its findings and taken unspecified action against several individuals.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar has ordered a review of the construction of a new building for the Interior Ministry and the police, the Necenzurirano news portal reported. The portal says that the contractor, the state-owned real estate investment firm DSU, rushed with the drafting of the project dossier to get the project so far ahead that it could no longer be stopped.
        LJUBLJANA - The government is in favour of a gradual introduction of free period products for women in public institutions and will look into the possibility of dedicated funding, the Government Communications Office (UKOM) told the STA after a recent call for this by the Slovenian Secondary-School Student Organization and the Slovenian Student Union.
        BREZJE - A two-seat aircraft crash-landed on the A2 motorway near Brezje in north Slovenia. There were two passengers on board and both survived the emergency landing without injuries. The pilot reported engine problems and decided to land the aircraft on the motorway instead of flying back to the nearby Lesce airfield.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian basketball star Goran Dragić has decided to rejoin the Slovenian men's team to defend the 2017 title at this year's EuroBasket in what is a change of heart after bidding his teammates farewell. Dragić tweeted "I'm back" along with the hashtag EuroBasket and a photo of himself holding the 2017 cup.
        LJUBLJANA - Kostja Gatnik, a versatile visual artist, has died at the age of 76, his family told the STA. He was best known as an illustrator and comic book author. He received a number of awards, including the Prešeren Prize for lifetime achievement, the country's top accolade in the arts world.

SUNDAY, 7 August
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob and President Borut Pahor have sent condolences to their Polish counterparts after the fatal crash of a Polish bus in Croatia. Golob wrote to Mateusz Morawiecki to express sincere condolences, extending his sympathy to the families of all those killed in the crash. Pahor expressed his condolences to President Andrzej Duda and wished a speedy recovery to all passengers injured in the accident.
        SINJ, Croatia - President Borut Pahor was the guest of honour at the traditional Sinjska Alka equestrian competition in the at the invitation of his Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanović. He was the first foreign statesman in this capacity at the tournament.
        HALIFAX, Canada - Slovenia's Anja Osterman has won silver at the Canoe Sprint World Championships, finishing a second behind Lisa Carrington of New Zealand in the 200-metre event. This is the fourth medal at a World Championship for the 29-year-old but the first in an individual event.

MONDAY, 8 August
        PTUJ - A retrial in the case of a man who murdered his estranged spouse and her parents in front of his four-year-old son on Christmas Day 2020 ended with a sentence of 30 years behind bars as Silvo Drevenšek was found guilty of all counts. He was handed 29 years each for the three murders and four more for the neglect and cruel treatment of a minor.
        LJUBLJANA - Petrol and diesel will be slightly more expensive as of 17 August, as the government decided to reintroduce energy efficiency contributions, which had been abolished temporarily to reduce energy prices. Diesel will thus be 0.8 cents more expensive per litre and petrol will be 0.736 cents dearer per litre.
        LJUBLJANA - Delo reported that Novo Mesto Bishop Andrej Saje is suspected of tax evasion and that a criminal complaint had been sent to Slovenian tax authorities and the prosecution. It alleges he had received pay for helping out with mass at two parishes in the Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt in Austria. Saje told the STA he had no knowledge of the criminal complaint and could not comment on it in detail.
TUESDAY, 9 August
        ANKARA, Turkey - President Borut Pahor started a two-day state visit to Turkey by meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu. The pair discussed the war in Ukraine and its consequences for the Western Balkans, with Pahor praising Turkey for its role as mediator between Russia and Ukraine.
        LJUBLJANA - Bojana Beović, head of the advisory committee on immunisation at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), recommended those over 80 and those with chronic diseases to get a second booster immediately given that the number of those hospitalised with Covid has not been decreasing despite lower influx of new cases.
        LJUBLJANA - The new school year is expected to start with home coronavirus testing for those showing symptoms and those who have been in contact with an infected person, according to guidance issued by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) coronavirus advisory group.
        LJUBLJANA - Public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported that 12 Indian workers had been forced to work 60-hour weeks at a Ljubljana car wash for less than the minimum wage after having their passports taken away. The group eventually ran away from the Avtostop car wash and two of them turned for help to an NGO specialising in the rights of migrant workers. Inspection procedures are ongoing.
        LJUBLJANA - The information commissioner asked for constitutional review of several provisions of the new prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing act due to broad powers the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering has with regard to access to personal information.
        LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković promised the residents they will be kept warm this winter despite the energy crisis. Coal reserves are sufficient to provide district heating to nearly half of all homes and there will be enough natural gas, but the question is at what price gas will be available, he said.
WEDNESDAY, 10 August
        ANKARA, Turkey - President Borut Pahor met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan before wrapping up his two-day state visit to Ankara. They discussed the war in Ukraine and the Western Balkans, agreeing to meet again on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in late September to revisit the topics.
        LJUBLJANA - Jadranko Grlić, the country's chief labour inspector, resigned in the wake of a TV report on another case of exploitation of foreign workers in recent months. The Labour Inspectorate said he had stepped down over differences of opinion with the Labour Ministry about the powers and manner of work of the inspectorate.
        ROME, Italy - The Italian government launched infringement proceedings against Slovenia to defend the authenticity of its geographically protected balsamic vinegar, according to several reports by international media.
        LJUBLJANA - Gynaecologist Sabina Senčar joined ten hopefuls who have so far announced their bids for the 23 October presidential election. She intends to run with the support of Resni.ca, a non-parliamentary party founded amid the Covid epidemic to oppose restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - GEN Energija, the parent company of the state-owned power group that also includes the Krško nuclear power plant, got a new supervisory board after the previous members were dismissed by Slovenian Sovereign Holding for loss of trust over "appropriate corporate governance at GEN Group".

THURSDAY, 11 August
        LJUBLJANA - TV Slovenija journalist Petra Bezjak Cirman was appointed acting director of the government Communications Office (UKOM) after Dragan Barbutovski quitting after only a little more than two months on the job. Barbutovski, who Prime Minister Robert Golob said was better suited for a different job, will work at the PM's office as foreign communications officer.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Rober Golob met with representatives of NGOs advocating for the young and the old. The meeting, which Golob said was "definitely not the last", agreed on the creation of task forces which will address some of the most urgent issues including scholarships for the young, the pensioners' expectations regarding pension increase, and access to mental health services for the young.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's largest banking group, NLB, reported EUR 287 million in profit after tax for the first half of 2022, a 105% increase year-on-year. The growth was mainly driven by positive effects related to the acquisition of N Banka, formerly Sberbank.
        LJUBLJANA - Business associations expressed opposition to government plan to revoke parts of the tax reform adopted by the previous government. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business and the Association of Employers in Trade Crafts and Smalls Business find the proposal would annul the positive effects of the amendments to the personal income tax act passed in March before they are even fully implemented.
        STAVANGER, Norway - Hana Mazi Jamnik, an up-and-coming cross-country skier, has been killed in a traffic accident during training in Norway. The 19-year-old was roller skiing through a tunnel on the road between Forsand and Joerpeland in south Norway when she was hit by a lorry. She was badly injured in the crash and airlifted to a hospital in Stavanger


12 Aug 2022, 10:17 AM

STA, 11 August 2022 - Italy's allegations about Slovenia's violations of EU legislation on geographically protected balsamic vinegar are unfounded, the Slovenian Agriculture Ministry told the STA on Thursday as it responded to recent reports that the Italian government is demanding infringement proceedings against Slovenia.

At the beginning of this week, news broke that the Italian government has called on the European Commission to launch infringement proceedings against Slovenia to safeguard the authenticity of Italy's geographically protected balsamic vinegar.

Italy has been opposing Slovenia's draft regulation on vinegar and dilute acetic acid quality for a year and a half now, as they believe it would broaden the definition of balsamic vinegar.

Given that the European Commission has not issued any binding opinion on this, and based on an EU court decision from 2019 that ruled in favour of a German company selling its vinegar products under the label balsamic, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food is confident that the regulation in question is not contrary to EU law.

They have been informed about Italy's moves through media reports alone. "We have not received any official information from either Italy or the European Commission," they wrote in their response.

The allegations are unfounded because balsamic vinegar is a generic term in common use and not in conflict with protected geographical terms registered by Italy, they said. The label Aceto Balsamico di Modena is protected, whereas non-geographical words used in this expression, such as "aceto" and "balsamico" and their combinations or translations are not.

Slovenia notified the EU of the regulation in December 2020, after which only Italy expressed strong opposition to the document in early March 2021. Slovenia then responded to the formal objection, but so far no feedback has been received from Italy or the Commission.

The ministry moreover noted that the regulation did not wish to do any harm to the reputation of protected Italian balsamic vinegar, as Slovenian products in this field would be marketed the same way as they have been so far.

11 Aug 2022, 11:51 AM

STA, 10 August 2022 - Prime Minister Robert Golob has proposed that TV Slovenija journalist Petra Bezjak Cirman be appointed the new head of the government Communications Office (UKOM). Earlier on Wednesday, the prime minister's office confirmed for the STA that Dragan Barbutovski was leaving the post after just over two months on the job.

Bezjak Cirman is to become acting director of UKOM. She will expectedly be appointed in the coming days.

She has worked as a journalist at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija for years before becoming the head of the broadcaster's works council and the workers' representative on RTV Slovenija's supervisory board.

Bezjak Cirman told the STA that she was looking forward to a new challenge but also that this was a hard decision to make because she loved being a journalist. Nevertheless, she sees the heading of UKOM as a significant step in her career.

Bezjak Cirman has been a top workers' representative at the public broadcaster at a time when employees of RTV Slovenija protested against political meddling by the then UKOM boss Uroš Urbanija and the previous government.

Urbanija's time in office was marked by withdrawal of funding for the STA and weekly commentary about TV Slovenija production. Only a few weeks ago, he was appointed TV Slovenija director by the broadcaster's director general Andrej Grah Whatmough.

Barbutovski, who replaced Urbanija in early June, will in the future be working in the prime minister's office as foreign communications officer.

The newspaper Dnevnik was the first to report about Barbutovski leaving UKOM, citing differences within the ruling Freedom Movement as regards expectations and work methods at the office.

A press release from RTV Slovenija announcing that Bezjak Cirman was leaving the broadcaster said that Barbutovski had resigned as UKOM boss. It also said that Grah Whatmough agreed to cut Bezjak Cirman's resignation notice period, so that she could start working at UKOM as early as next week.

The prime minister's office said that coalition parties had been warning against hate speech in politics already before the April election and that UKOM was one of the bodies that should pay special attention to this.

10 Aug 2022, 10:59 AM

STA, 9 August 2022 - The new school year is to kick off with home coronavirus testing for those showing symptoms and for those who were in contact with an infected person, experts have decided. Classrooms are to be ventilated very frequently, as often as every 20 minutes during the winter, while windows should remain open during warmer seasons.

An education task force, one of the sub-groups within the National Institute of Public Health's coronavirus advisory group, today expressed support for the guidelines the advisory group put together last week.

Nives Počkar from the Secondary School Headteacher Association told the STA that the main goal was to avoid shutting down schools. She hopes people will accept home testing as part of a responsible attitude required so that schools and preschools remain open.

The plan entails two scenarios that will be implemented depending on epidemiologic situation.

If the situation remains similar to now, home testing will be obligatory for those with infection symptoms and those who have been in contact with an infected person.

However, if a new variant creating a high risk of severe illness starts spreading, a second scenario will be implemented, requiring weekly home testing for all students and teachers.

In both cases, home tests will be available for students free of charge at pharmacies.

The education task force also supports the recommendation of frequent ventilation of classrooms, Počkar said.

Since only few schools have ventilation systems installed, ventilation will be created by opening windows.

06 Aug 2022, 08:37 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, 29 July
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate accelerated to 11% in July, up 0.6 percentage points from the month before, driven mostly by high prices of petroleum products, the Statistics Office said. It is the highest annual inflation rate since August 1995.
        LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court decreed that the planned Mokrice hydropower station on the river Sava cannot get a building permit until it has ruled on legal action brought against the project by the Slovenian Native Fish Society.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob and Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik met with representatives of a dozen NGOs for the second time to discuss current issues. The government is keen to include NGOs in the decision-making process, Golob said after the meeting.
        LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan said in an interview for the STA she would not approach changes in the judiciary haphazardly, but wanted to see well-thought-out solutions under a broad consensus, while noting it was high time politics no longer played a role in judicial appointment procedures.
        LJUBNO OB SAVINJI - Slovenian minority officials pledged to work to secure a permanent seat for the minority in the Italian parliament as the Office for Slovenians Abroad hosted a debate on the issue amid concerns that the Slovenian minority in Italy could end up without its representative in the Italian parliament following the 25 September snap election.
        LJUBLJANA - The government included the country's human rights ombudsman among officials who are provided with security protection by the police after his office suggested so a while ago because Ombudsman Peter Svetina has often been target of threats over the past two years.

        LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec announced systemic changes in civil protection and disaster relief after a massive fire in the western Kras region. He told Dnevnik that the army should immediately be activated in case of natural disasters.

SUNDAY, 31 July
        LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan vowed to keep a close eye on the government's work if new restrictive measures will need to be imposed due to a surge in coronavirus cases. Talking to the STA, she also said she advocated the suspension of unconstitutional proceedings launched against individuals under the previous government.
        KRANJSKA GORA - A low-profile memorial event was held at the Russian Chapel below the Vršič mountain pass honouring the memory of Russian POWs who perished while building the pass during the First World War. Because of the war in Ukraine, only members and friends of the Slovenia-Russia Association gathered for this year's event.

MONDAY, 1 August
        NEW YORK, US - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon addressed the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York, saying the war in Ukraine had caused the worst deterioration of security in Europe and urging Russia to cease the hostilities and withdraw from Ukraine. She stressed Slovenia will continue supporting Ukraine.
        LJUBLJANA - Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič announced the government would partly annul as of 2023 the income tax reform introduced by the previous government because it significantly affects budget revenue.
        LJUBLJANA - An internal police audit revealed major irregularities in contracts concluded by the Motorway Police Administration, which was established under the previous government, including a contract with national motorway operator DARS, which was referred to the anti-graft watchdog and other authorities over suspicion of criminal acts.
        LJUBLJANA - The police initiated a dismissal and disciplinary procedure against an employee on suspicion of a work-related crime. According to media reports, the person in question is Tomislav Habulin, a former assistant to previous Police Commissioner Anton Olaj. According to tabloid Slovenske Novice, he is suspected of data tampering.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian police processed in the first seven months just over 8,200 foreigners who illegally entered the country, up 80% compared to the same period last year. However, Tomaž Pavček of the Border Police Division said this was just a tenth more than in the same period in 2019 and 2020.
        LJUBLJANA - Lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar, who is expected to run in the 23 October presidential election, raised dust with a statement for the Siol.net news portal about "media being paid to attack those who think differently". The former information commissioner specifically mentioned Požareport, Nova24TV, Reporter and Necenzurirano.
        LJUBLJANA - July was the hottest month on record in Ljubljana in terms of the mean monthly temperature, which stood at 24.4 degrees Celsius, the Environment Agency announced. Record temperatures for July were also recorded in many other locations in Slovenia.
TUESDAY, 2 August
        NEW YORK, US - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon discussed Slovenia's bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2024-2025 at the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, stressing this was not a project of the previous government, but Slovenia's project.
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Daniel Bešič Loredan said the share of EU funds Slovenia has so far drawn for health projects is rather low, noting the would focus on phasing as much money as possible within available time window.
        LJUBLJANA - Renovation works on the main building of UKC Ljubljana worth over EUR 70 million are planned to start shortly, but media report the open call to select the contractor for the energy renovation segment was flawed. Although the hospital has dismissed the allegations, the Health Ministry said that if the allegations transpired to be true, the drawing of EU funds would be halted.
        LJUBLJANA - First estimates show the damage the severe drought has caused to crops will be extensive. Maize and grass have been hit the worst so far, with output expected to be cut by 50%, according to data the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry.
        LJUBLJANA - The price of regular petrol and diesel sold at service stations outside the motorway network in Slovenia dropped by 8.6 cents and 2.3 cents, respectively. A litre of petrol costs EUR 1.534 and diesel EUR 1.676. The new prices will be in place for a day more than usually, for 15 days, because of a bank holiday.
        BRNO, Czechia/ŠENČUR - Solitea, a Czech group offering ICT solutions, acquired another Slovenian company, Vasco, after buying SAOP in 2016. Solitea did not disclose the price of the deal, which is still subject to regulatory approval, but business newspaper Finance said it was in the EUR 30 million range.
        SOLKAN - After a week-long shutdown due to low water levels of the Soča river, the first since 2003, the Solkan Hydropower Plant was brought back online following rainfall in the Bovec area, upstream from the power plant.
        LJUBLJANA - Bojan Babič, the director of the Ljubljana administrative unit, confirmed for Delo that he had been notified by Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik that he would be dismissed at the end of August. The unit has been a target of much criticism since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic.
        MARIBOR - The newspaper Večer reported that Maribor Prosecutor's Office had filed charges against five former border police officers who were arrested in February 2020 over suspicion that they had stamped the passports of third-country nationals to allow them to unlawfully prolong their stay in the Schengen zone beyond the permitted 90-day period.
        LJUBLJANA - Ludvik Poljanec, who has successfully represented Slovenian citizens before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as layman, announced he would run in the 23 October presidential election. He plans to collect 5,000 votr signatures in support of his bid.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of registered jobless people was up slightly in July over the month before, by 0.9% to 54,341, while this represents a drop of 23.1% compared to the same period last year, the Employment Service reported.
        KOSTANJEVICA NA KRASU - A campaign started in the part of the Kras region south of Nova Gorica to remove the wood biomass that has been left behind the devastating fire that raged in the area in the second half of July. Around 5,000 cubic metres of wood biomass that could serve as ignition and fuel for new fires needs to be removed by 20 August.

THURSDAY, 4 August
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's exports went up by 32.1% and imports by 47% in the first six months compared to the same period last year, while an external trade deficit of EUR 2.2 billion was recorded. In June, Slovenia exported a record EUR 5.3 billion of goods (up 57.2% year on year) and imported a record of EUR 4.8 billion (up 40%).
        LJUBLJANA - The gaming company Elektronček Group, owned by entrepreneur Joc Pečečnik, announced the acquisition of the company Costella, whose most valuable asset is a water extraction concession valid until 2035. According to unofficial information of the business newspaper Finance, Elektronček is to pay less than EUR 5 million for the company.
        LJUBLJANA - Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik said that her dismissing Bojan Babič as the director of the Ljubljana administrative unit was not a politically motivated decision as she announced a broader restructuring of administrative units. Babič agreed with the assessment and will not appeal, a deputy head has already been appointed.


02 Aug 2022, 12:56 PM

STA, 1 August - An annual report on the situation of the Roma communities in Slovenia for 2021 shows some headway in the labour market, but also that there remains much room to improve the communities' social inclusion. It showed that only about a dozen Roma work as assistants to preschool teachers and that many do not have their own GP.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport finds in the report, which was discussed by the government on Thursday and sent to parliament, that preschools are yet to take full use of the possibility to employ Roma assistants.

They are deemed a key connection between preschools and Roma communities. The ministry also said that municipalities will have to become more active in encouraging the Roma to enrol their children in preschools.

Learn more: Geographical names in the languages of official minorities in Slovenia

The ministry added that only seven kindergartens had applied in the most recent call for Roma assistant funding for the school year 2022/2023.

Data suggest that the situation is better at schools, as over 60 Roma assistants worked at schools and preschools combined in the previous school year, the report shows.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is trying to raise awareness among the Roma that they should pick their own GP and see them instead of going to the emergency services, the report says.

The ministry is trying to encourage a healthy lifestyle, discouraging smoking and unhealthy foods. It also focuses on encouraging the Roma to participate in preventive health programmes.

Moreover, the Health Ministry issued a public call for co-funding humanitarian organisations which provide direct aid, counselling and aid to the vulnerable in 2021 and 2022, but only few providers applied for the programme targetting the Roma.

The situation is meanwhile somewhat better in terms of employment. Nearly 2,300 Roma were registered as unemployed last year, with nearly 360 finding a job. Half of the unemployed had not completed primary school, while a third only had primary education.

The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities says in the report that many Roma took part in a number of activities provided by the Employment Agency despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology says in the report that it will continue to help municipalities in building basic infrastructure for Roma settlements.

However, in the future, the ministry will provide support only for projects that pursue development priorities and approach Roma issues comprehensively.

30 Jul 2022, 14:10 PM

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, 22 July
        MOSCOW, Russia - Russia added Slovenia on the list of countries considered unfriendly by the Kremlin, which means Slovenia will no longer be allowed to hire employees for its diplomatic missions in Russia. The Foreign Ministry regretted the move, but said it had no effect on Slovenia's embassy in Moscow.
        LJUBLJANA - Andriy Taran, Ukraine's new ambassador, presented his credentials to President Borut Pahor, thus formally starting his service in Slovenia. Taran, a former Ukrainian defence minister, succeeds as ambassador Mykhailo Brodovych, who had served in Slovenia since 2015.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia welcomed the European Commission's plan for EU countries to reduce gas consumption by 15% if necessary in response to the Russian gas supply crisis. Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Aleš Cantarutti quoted a survey finding Slovenia's industry could reduce gas consumption by 10%.
        LJUBLJANA - Due to rising Covid figures, the Covid-19 task force recommended for face masks to be be reintroduced in all indoor public spaces and that they become mandatory in healthcare institutions. They also urged vulnerable groups and those over 60 to work from home and get vaccinated.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved Slovenia's EUR 2.1 million scheme for state aid to primary food producers impacted by the war in Ukraine. Farmers will receive grants to cover higher prices of energy, animal feed, fuel and raw materials.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's banks, including market leaders NLB and NKBM, announced they will stop charging negative interest rates on large deposits of individuals and legal entities starting from 1 August, after the ECB raised its key interest rates.
        LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia deteriorated by 1.7 percentage points in July over June, and by 7.2 points year-on-year to -1.1 percentage points as consumer confidence worsened.

        LJUBLJANA - Vojko Volk, a seasoned diplomat and advisor to PM Robert Golob, told Večer in an interview that by entering the Schengen area, Croatia would, legally speaking, recognise the borders of the countries already in the area, including Slovenia, and thus indirectly the border arbitration award.
        BOVEC - Addressing the annual get-together of his Democratic Party (SDS), former PM Janez Janša expressed the confidence that the candidate supported by the SDS would win this year's presidential election while noting the party being as a rule successful in local elections, to be held in the autumn.
        LJUBLJANA - A tonne and a half of fish was found dead in Mali Graben, a river canal of the Gradaščica river in Ljubljana, in a second major incident in the Gradaščica after decomposing pork was found in the water a fortnight ago. A subsequent lab test could not confirm presence of toxic substances in the water samples, but lab officials believe the water was contaminated.

SUNDAY, 24 July
        KOSTANJEVICA NA KRASU - After more than a week, the wildfire in Kras, the largest ever in Slovenia, was brought under control. It affected over 3,500 hectares of wood and farmland but people's homes and lives were spared. In total more than 10,000 voluntary and professional firefighters and 1,200 support staff were involved in the effort along with aircraft from Slovenia, all four neighbouring countries as well as Romania, Slovakia and Serbia. Visiting the area PM Robert Golob announced a comprehensive plan to be drawn up to protect Kras against such fires in the future and President Borut Pahor praised the remarkable solidarity displayed by everyone involved. Pahor phoned the presidents of all the countries involved to thank them.
        LJUBLJANA - A poll commissioned by the commercial broadcaster POP TV showed the voter approval rating for the Robert Golob government falling by two percentage points to 51% in a month, and Golob's Freedom Movement polling slightly lower at 27.8% as the opposition Democrats (SDS) stayed put at 18.8%. The result suggests merging with the LMŠ and SAB had not paid off for the Freedom Movement.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw a natural decrease in population for the fifth consecutive year in 2021 as the number of births dropped to just 18,984, and 23,261 people died, Statistics Office data showed.
        PARIS, France - Tadej Pogačar, the 26-year-old Slovenian UAE Team Emirates rider, failed to defend his two-time Tour de France title, finished as the runner-up to Dane Jonas Vingegaard of Team Jumbo-Visma. Still, he won his third straight white jersey of the best young rider.

MONDAY, 25 July
        LJUBLJANA - Marjan Eberlinc, CEO of the gas transmission system operator Plinovodi, told Radio Slovenija that Slovenia was managing the gas supply situation very well given the developments in the wake of the war in Ukraine with no disruption to supply so far. He said there would be quite a few alternative options for Slovenia if Russia indeed cut off gas supply to Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia confirmed 2,939 new cases of coronavirus in a nearly-four-month high as modelling expert Janez Žibert assessed the summer wave of infections had plateaued with the 7-day remaining at around 1,600 for a week. This was a day after the country saw the highest daily death toll among patients with Covid in more than three months, numbering eight.
        LJUBLJANA - Fresh data from the Statistics Office showed visitors spent almost two million nights in Slovenia's tourism accommodation facilities in June, which is nearly double year-on-year and a third of the total figure for the first half of 2022. The figures thus virtually reached pre-epidemic levels.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food temporarily protected at the national level a type of sheep milk cheese from the Istria region, Istrski ovčji sir/Istarski ovčji sir, using a protected designation of origin in a move initiated by Slovenian and Croatian sheep breeders.
        VELENJE - Fourteen miners sustained light injuries as a stope collapsed at the Velenje coal mine, but they managed to get out of the pit by themselves.
        LJUBLJANA - The safe-internet use portal Safe.si released the results of a survey showing that one out of three female secondary school students, and one out of four girls at primary schools aged 12-15 had considered getting plastic surgery as a result of beauty standards posted on social media.
        LJUBLJANA - As part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of architecture mastermind Jože Plečnik, Ljubljana introduced a new city bus to visit 28 of the best known Ljubljana landmarks designed by him.

TUESDAY, 26 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer said there would be no cuts to gas supplies to Slovenian households this winter after EU ministers in charge of energy agreed a voluntary 15% reduction in gas demand.
        LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav, talking with the STA in an interview, listed staff shortages in the police force and restore the autonomy of the uniformed and criminal police and the National Bureau of Investigation as key challenges he is planning to take on.
        LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav reappointed Darko Muženič director of the National Bureau of Investigation after he was dismissed in early May 2020 under the previous government.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian authorities condemned the executions of four democracy activists in Myanmar in the strongest terms, with the Foreign Ministry tweeting that the military junta's actions represented an escalation of repression and their contempt for human rights.
        LJUBLJANA - The Pirate Party announced it will endorse lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar's bid in the 23 October presidential election under a decision taken by this non-parliamentary party at the 23 July congress.
        LJUBLJANA - The government approved co-financing of public rental housing from the recovery and resilience plan for a total of 34 projects as part of which a total of 1,036 housing units will be constructed. The total amount of grants is EUR 60 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Under a plan approved by the government on 22 July, army and firefighting tank trucks started transporting water to the coastal region, which is facing shortages due to severe drought. In a EUR 2.85 million project water is being extracted from the river Unica, north of Postojna, and brought to a water works facility near Črni Kal to be treated. The first such operation in the country started just as the region got some of the much needed rain.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) and investment firm Meta Ventures reached an out-of-court settlement in a dispute over SSH's sale in 2020 of the state's 49% stake in Meta Ingenium, a company that at the time held 10.8% of biotech firm Bia Separations. SSH will get an additional EUR 2.09 million for the stake, plus variable part of the proceeds based on Bia Separations' results over next three years.
        KOPER - After being defrocked by the Vatican church court for sexually abusing a minor, former priest Anton Kmet will not be tried in Slovenia as the case became statute barred.
        CHISINAU, Moldova - The Slovenian football champions Maribor were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League qualifying, after being defeated by Moldova's FC Sheriff 0:1 on aggregate in the second round. They will now face HJK Helsinki in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

        KYIV, Ukraine - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon visited Ukraine to express Slovenia's support and solidarity with the country, meeting her counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitchko and investment office head Sergiy Tsivkach. She promised Slovenia's support both in dealing with the consequences of the war and efforts to join the EU. The next day she announced an additional package of aid for the country.
        LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants said it had increased capacity in the Ljubljana asylum centre and moved vulnerable groups to the Logatec branch following a report by the web portal N1 that police had filed a criminal complaint over a rape of an underage girl there in early May and NGOs raised concerns over overcrowded and worrying conditions.
        LJUBLJANA - German flag carrier Lufthansa cancelled scheduled flights to and from Ljubljana due to a strike by ground staff that affected more than 1,000 flights from and to Munich and Frankfurt.
        AUGSBURG, Germany - Slovenia opened the 2022 Canoe Slalom World Championships successfully as Benjamin Savšek, Luka Božič and Anže Berčič won the gold medal in the men's C1 team event and Eva Terčelj, Ajda Novak and Eva Alina Hočevar won silver the women's kayak team event.

        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to reduce VAT on electricity, natural gas, firewood and district heating for all consumers from 22% to 9.5%. The lower rate will apply for the heating season, from 1 September to 31 May next year. The lower VAT will result in EUR 130 million less budged receipts.
        NOVA GORICA - The Solkan Hydropower Plant was temporarily shut down due to extremely low flow of the Soča river caused by prolonged drought. The plant realised only 54% of the planned output in the first half of the year, similar as power plants on the Drava and Sava.
        LJUBLJANA - The government tasked the Ministry of Defence to draw up a damage assessment report in the wake of the wildfire in Kras based on which Slovenia will seek aid from the EU Solidarity Fund.
        NEW YORK, UN - The UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment a universal human right. The resolution was proposed by a group of countries, with Slovenia playing a significant role as a co-leader of the process.
        LJUBLJANA - After filing for referenda challenging the new laws on the government and the public broadcaster, the opposition Democrats (SDS) initiated procedures for a referendum a law delaying the implementation of the long-term care act, which was passed under the previous government.
        LJUBLJANA - The police administration announced that staff from the new motorway police units in Koper, Celje and Maribor will be temporarily assigned to the respective road traffic police stations on 1 August due to severe staff shortages. This leaves only the Ljubljana motorway police unit operational.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia improved its ranking in the EU's Digital Economy and Society Index placing eleventh in what is the best result so far. It is above EU average

28 Jul 2022, 10:38 AM

STA, 27 July 2022 - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon travelled to Kyiv on Wednesday, meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitchko and investment office head Sergiy Tsivkach. She promised Slovenia's support in the future, both in facing the consequences of war and efforts to join the EU.

She expressed support and solidarity with Ukraine and also talked about aid provided by Slovenia so far and learnt about Ukraine's aid needs.

"Slovenia remains a friend and supporter of Ukraine and its residents who have shown great courage," Fajon was quoted as saying by the Foreign Ministry on Twitter. She again condemned Russian aggression on Ukraine.

She presented to Kuleba the scope of humanitarian aid provided by Slovenia, which totals EUR 8.8 million, together with contributions donated by NGOs. Since the start of the war, Slovenia's government has contributed EUR 3.2 million. The country has become a refuge for many refugees and has taken in 20 orphans from Luhansk.

Slovenian NGOs have provided EUR 5.5 million in aid to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees in Slovenia, a press release from the Foreign Ministry said.

"We talked about concrete humanitarian aid projects, such as demining and rehabilitation of the wounded, fields in which Slovenian experts can help," Fajon was quoted in the press release. During her visit, she also signed a memorandum on cyber security with Ukraine.

Prime Minister Shmyhal thanked Slovenia for the humanitarian aid it provided, while Fajon told him Slovenian companies were interested in helping to rebuild Ukraine after the war.

She also met the Kyiv mayor, saying he was very motivated and had great faith in the capital's residents. They talked about the need to end the war and Kyiv getting back to normal life.

The foreign minister also visited Irpin, which suffered heavy attacks from the Russian forces. Alongside Kuleba, she laid a wreath to honour the victims of war in the Donbas region, the ministry also tweeted.

She condemned killings of civilians in the strongest of terms, saying these were violations of humanitarian law and human rights, also underlining that the perpetrators must not go unpunished.

27 Jul 2022, 12:15 PM

STA, 26 July 2022 - The government has approved co-financing of public rental housing from the recovery and resilience plan for a total of 34 projects as part of which a total of 1,036 housing units will be constructed. The total amount of grants is EUR 60 million.

Under the decision of the Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry, announced on Tuesday, the largest number of apartments will be constructed with the EU funds intended for post-Covid recovery in the Podravje region (404).

The number of housing units to be built in the Obalno-Kraška region is 166, followed by South-Eastern Slovenia (112), Koroška (101), Savinjska (82), Central Slovenia (80), Posavje (37), Goriška (24), Gorenjska (20) and Primorsko-Notranjska (10).

"All these apartments will be rented out to the beneficiaries through public calls for applications at a non-profit rent, with the investment making a significant contribution to facilitating access to suitable housing in Slovenia," the ministry said.

It added that investments that provide the most energy-efficient solutions had been preferred. Thus, 82% of the apartments to be built will meet the highest energy efficiency standards, ensuring low energy consumption and lower operating costs for tenants.

Projects in disadvantaged border areas were also prioritised from the aspect of the promotion of balanced regional development, the ministry said.

22 Jul 2022, 16:23 PM

STA, 22 July 2022 - As Covid figures have been increasing again in Slovenia, the Covid-19 task force recommended on Friday that face masks be again introduced in all indoor public spaces and that they become obligatory in the health system again. Vulnerable groups and those over 60 have been urged to work from home and get vaccinated.

"We ask employers to enable that and decision makers to create the legal basis for working from home," the group's head Mario Fafangel told the press. He stressed this was the basis for long-term co-existing with the virus.

All vulnerable groups and those over 60 years old are strongly recommended to use face masks when distancing is not possible. Masks are also recommended for all in indoor spaces such as public transport, shops, cinemas, he said.

The task force also called for masks to again become obligatory indoors in hospitals, community health centres, pharmacies, care homes and other social care institutions. Many of these institutions have already made mask wearing mandatory themselves.

Fafangel said that the epidemiological situation in Slovenia was improving and that the reproduction number was slowing approaching one, meaning that one infected person on average still infected more than one person.

The number of infections in this summer wave will peak next or perhaps even this week, he said. Then the curve could stagnate for a while before turning downwards in the best case scenario, he said.

Infectious disease expert Mateja Logar said rapid antigen test were currently used to confirm infections, while in the coming weeks PCR testing would be enhanced, as it enables further sequencing to determine the sub-variant of the virus.

Persons with Covid symptoms must stay home for seven days since the start of the symptoms. If the person tests negative after seven days, the isolation ends.

Logar stressed the importance of early detection of the disease, as the drugs available, remdesivir and paxlovid, are effective in preventing complications if taken early enough.

Currently, about 10% of beds are available for Covid patients in 15 Slovenian hospitals, according to the head of the task force coordinating Covid hospitalisations, Matjaž Jereb. He said the most problematic were patients treated for other conditions who get infected with coronavirus.

Calculations show that hospitalisations should peak in mid-August. "Let's hope that the pressure on hospitals will nevertheless be lower in the coming weeks," he said.

Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan said all measures would be introduced in cooperation with experts and presented to the public. No measure will be introduced overnight, he said.

"We want to prepare an open model, which Omicron currently allows for, but we must protect the vulnerable groups. We will strive to keep both our society and health system open," he said.

He announced the government would prepare an emergency Covid law to help manage the epidemic and its consequences. The bill will be sent to the Economic and Social Council next month, and will be passed in September, he said. It will be retroactive, taking effect from the start of July until the end of next year, he said.

Plans are also being made within the task force for the new school year. Gregor Pečan, a member of the subgroup for education, said the idea was to address the main challenges by autumn, so that school work could be conducted like in pre-pandemic times.

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