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News roundup - Monday, 16 August

Ljubljana, 16 August - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 16 August:

Slovenia concerned over situation in Afghanistan

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. "Violence should be ended, the civilian population, in particular women and children, should be protected, and basic human rights standards upheld," it said on Twitter. PM Janez Janša meanwhile described the chaos in Afghanistan and the handover of modern weapons to the Taliban as "the greatest defeat for NATO in history", writing on Twitter Slovenia shared responsibility for that as a NATO member. Defence Minister Matej Tonin said three Slovenian citizens are currently in Kabul, with attempts being made to evacuate them. Slovenia is in the group of around 70 countries that have called on the Taliban to enable safe departure of all foreign citizens from Afghanistan and also to Afghan citizens who want to leave the country. Several opposition parties and NGO joined the appeal.

56 new coronavirus infections confirmed on Sunday

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reported 56 new coronavirus cases for Sunday, which is a week-on-week increase of ten cases, coming from a total of 801 PCR tests. The positivity rate was 7%, down by more than three percentage points compared to the day before, show data from the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ). The rolling seven-day average of new cases grew by two to 183, and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents increased by one to 100. The number of Covid-19 hospitalisations was up by two to 45 today, and the number of patients requiring intensive care increased by one to ten.

Vox Populi poll shows public split on mandatory Covid vaccination

LJUBLJANA - The Vox Populi poll carried out for the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer shows the public is divided over mandatory vaccination against Covid-19. 47.7% of those polled would support the introduction of mandatory vaccination, whereas 47.1% would not support it. Just over 5% refused to state their position. More inclined to support mandatory vaccination are people with vocational education and those older than 60. Almost 64% of those polled have meanwhile already been vaccinated, mainly to protect themselves or their relatives.

NGOs urge minister to propose EU exit Energy Charter Treaty

LJUBLJANA - A group of Slovenian environmental NGOs called on Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec as a representative of the Slovenian EU presidency to propose a political discussion on the EU exiting the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) at the September informal meeting of ministers in charge of energy. The call from the Slovenian NGOs comes after more than 400 European civil society organisations have called on EU leaders to exit the ECT. "The Energy Charter Treaty is an obstacle in the transition to clean energy, which is why it is high time to exit it," the NGO Umanotera said.

Pahor sees unification with Prekmurje as connecting rather than dividing

BELTINCI - President Borut Pahor said that Slovenia's celebration of its reunification with Prekmurje region is a celebration of national identity that is not targeted against any other nation, as he addressed a ceremony held on the eve of Prekmurje Reunification Day. Rather than being targeted against any other nation it is "an opportunity to reflect on the mutuality of national and common European identity in the framework of the shared European homeland". He announced that in September he and Hungarian President Janos Ader will host a meeting of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Hungary and the Hungarian ethnic minority in Slovenia.

Vox Populi poll: Centre-left opposition would win comfortable parliamentary majority

LJUBLJANA - The Vox Populi poll carried out for the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer shows that the four centre-left opposition parties which have previously joined forces in an informal coalition to topple the current Janez Janša government, would win a combined 51 seats in the 90-seat parliament if an election was held this Sunday. Nevertheless, the Janša's ruling Democrats (SDS) continue enjoying the strongest support at 18%, up 0.2 of a percentage point in August over July.

Education minister tests positive for coronavirus

LJUBLJANA - Education Minister Simona Kustec has tested positive for coronavirus. She announced on Twitter she had been isolating since Saturday, but added that all activities for the safe start of the school year continued. The minister received the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine on 23 March and appears to have been fully vaccinated. Several other members of the government cabinet have tested positive before, most of them before they were vaccinated, including Foreign Minister Anže Logar as well as the ministers of the environment, culture, and public administration.

NSi founder, first leader Bajuk remembered ten years after death

LJUBLJANA - New Slovenia - the Christian Democrats (NSi) remembered Andrej Bajuk, the party's founder and first leader, who died aged 67 ten years to the day. NSi leader Matej Tonin recalled Bajuk's dedication to the party and his homeland and his focus on dialogue and cooperation. Bajuk (1943-2011), who briefly served as prime minister, as well as finance minister and MP, came to prominence in Slovenia's political arena in 2000 after he was elected in April a vice-president of the SLS+SKD, a party created with a merger of the Christian Democrats (SKD), a member of which he had been, and People's Party (SLS). He served as finance minister in the first Janez Janša government between 2004 and 2008, during which time Slovenia also introduced the euro.

Over 130 shorts from 34 countries at 7th FeKK festival

LJUBLJANA - The 7th FeKK festival of short film will open in Ljubljana in the evening, bringing more than 130 short films from 34 countries until Saturday. According to the organisers, the focus will again be on the Slovenian FeKK SLO and the international FeKK BAL competition programmes. The international competition programme, previously known as FeKK YU and featuring films from the countries of former Yugoslavia, has been expanded to the entire Balkans.

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