News roundup - Thursday, 19 January
Ljubljana, 19 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 19 January:
Majority of defendants in Balkan Warrior drug trial plead guilty
LJUBLJANA - The majority of the defendants in the Balkan Warrior drug trafficking case, including chief defendant Dragan Tošić, have pleaded guilty, news portal 24ur.com reported. In what is already the third trial in the case, the prosecution is proposing sentences equal to the time already spent in prison. According to 24ur.com, the judge has already received confessions from Tosić and Jakob Remškar, while more are to be processed on Monday.
Bilateral ties, situation in region in focus as Serbian speaker visits
LJUBLJANA - Urška Klakočar Zupančič, the speaker of the National Assembly, expressed support for Serbia's EU accession bid as she met her Serbian counterpart Vladimir Orlić. Both speakers described relations between the two countries as excellent, in particular economic cooperation. They also talked about the Serb community's status in Slovenia with Klakočar Zupančič calling for a solution that would allow the community to express their national identity.
Respect for international law crucial for peace, minister says
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is strongly convinced that the full respect of international law is crucial for preserving international peace, security and stability, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said as she addressed a conference entitled Humanitarian Crises, Critical Infrastructure and Environmental Protection in Armed Conflict and Peacebuilding: Legal Challenges of the 21st Century, hosted by the Centre of Excellence in Finance (CEF).
Pirc Musar discusses health reform with opposition
LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar received the leaders of the two opposition parties in parliament for separate talks that focused on health reform but also touched on constitutional changes and other current challenges. Party president Janez Janša and deputy group leader Jelka Godec represented the Democrats (SDS), whereas the New Slovenia (NSi) was represented by party president Matej Tonin and deputy faction leader Janez Cigler Kralj.
Watchdog finds no conflict of interest in Ljubljana health centre boss
LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) did not confirm any suspicion of conflict of interest involving Antonija Poplas Susič, director of the Ljubljana Community Health Centre. The KPK opened the procedure against Poplas Susič after receiving a complaint against her last December, while it processed a similar complaint in 2020, when it also established no integrity infringements. The centre and its leadership have been criticised lately as many patients have been left without their named GP.
Črnčec, Glavaš to attend Ukraine Defence Contact Group session
LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry said that its State Secretary Damir Črnčec and the Slovenian Armed Forces chief-of-staff, Maj-Gen Robert Glavaš, will attend the third session of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday.
Slovenian MEPs call for parliament tours in Slovenian
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenian MEPs called for tours of the European Parliament to be held in Slovenian again in a letter to EU officials. They noted that Slovenian is one of the languages that is often discriminated against in the European Parliament.
Nurses announce protest rally for 22 February
LJUBLJANA - The trade union of nurses SDZNS announced a protest rally for 22 February in Ljubljana demanding higher pay, because nursing staff are dissatisfied with the agreement from December when the government refused to negotiate with their trade unions on wages. It has not ruled out a strike should it be necessary to step up the pressure.
More employees in judiciary request bonuses
LJUBLJANA - After the government promised EUR 600 gross monthly bonuses to judges and public prosecutors, the remaining employees in the judiciary have asked for bonuses amounting to half of that sum, otherwise they could stop working overtime and perform the minimum amount of work stipulated by law. The Trade Union of Workers in the Judiciary said the government was addressing issues in the public sector pay system in a "discriminatory manner".
Local government, public administration staff demand higher wages too
LJUBLJANA - Local and public administration employees feel left out as the government raised or promised to raise wages of the "most powerful and influential" groups in the public sector, including teachers, doctors and medical staff. Local administration staff do not exclude the possibility of a strike.
Public health insurance fund rejects blame for state of healthcare
LJUBLJANA - The ZZZS public health insurance fund strongly rejected government accusations of siphoning off funds, corruption and data concealing, which were made as part of a review of healthcare in preparation of a reform. The ZZZS said it operated in line with the law and was "the most controlled institution in Slovenia".
Income tax act changes also challenged at top court by National Council
LJUBLJANA - In what is the second constitutional challenge in the matter, the upper chamber of parliament and 13 business and agriculture organisations petitioned the Constitutional Court to review changes to the income tax act that reverse key parts of a tax reform adopted under the previous government. The petition by the National Council includes the proposal for a staying of the challenged provisions and is accompanied by a public petition for lower taxes so far signed by 4,500 people.
Independence and contemporary history museums merged
LJUBLJANA - The government merged the Museum of Slovenian Independence, set up by the previous government, with the National Museum of Contemporary History to create a new institute. This comes despite opposition from some right-leaning groups. A key reason for the merger is the optimisation of work in the protection and preservation of cultural heritage and greater accessibility of the independence-era tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the government said.
First funds for just transition of coal regions available in March
LJUBLJANA - State Secretary Marko Koprivc from the Government Office for Development and EU Cohesion Policy said the Savinjsko-Saleška region, which is to abandon coal by 2033, should get the first funds for just transition in March, as he spoke at a conference on the region's restructuring. Over EUR 250 million will be available.
Airline subsidies bill cleared by committee
LJUBLJANA - A bill under which Slovenia will subsidise airlines that introduce new routes to Slovenia or expand frequencies on existing routes was unanimously endorsed by the Economy Committee in advance of the plenary debate. Roughly EUR 5.6 million will be available per year in the form of a 50% airport fee subsidy.
Issue raised about declining interest in Slovenian language abroad
LJUBLJANA - As representatives of Slovenians in Slovenia's neighbouring countries are worried about the shortage of Slovenian teachers and declining interest to learn the language, the relevant parliamentary committee decided to recommend to the government to improve its support for the promotion of the Slovenian language and identity.
Govt puts mental health in focus of 2023
LJUBLJANA - The government declared 2023 the Slovenian Year of Mental Health since mental health is becoming increasingly important in Europe and globally, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) said in a press release after the government session. The government included mental health among its priorities and intends to draft new bills on mental health, psychotherapy and psychological counselling by the end of the year.
Church of Slovenian Protestant community in Bethlehem, US, being sold
NEW YORK, US - The Slovenian Protestant community in the US town of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania will soon be left without its St John's church building, which is being sold more than 110 years after being built by the community. The town's Slovenian Catholics are in the process of losing their church as well. The story of the two communities has been closely tied to historical developments, dating back to the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century when immigrants, in particular from Central Europe, were arriving en masse to work at the Bethlehem steel plant.
Dijana Matković's book to be pitched at Berlinale
LJUBLJANA/BERLIN, Germany - Essayistic novel Zakaj Ne Pišem (Why I Don't Write) by Slovenian author Dijana Matković has been listed among 11 literary works to be presented at the pitch event Books at Berlinale as part of the Berlin film festival. This marks the first time a Slovenian book has made it to the list, the publisher Cankarjeva Založba said.
Man gets 30 years for killing mother, attempted murder of father
CELJE - A 38-year-old man was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Celje District Court for stabbing his mother to death and attempting to murder his father in March 2021 at their home in the village of Zalog pri Šempetru. Gregor Ducman pleaded not guilty, got 26 years in prison for the murder of his mother and 15 years for the attempted murder of his father, for an aggregate sentence of 30 years. The ruling is not yet final.
Nearly 20 complaints filed against alleged white-collar criminals
LJUBLJANA - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed criminal complaints against eight individuals and ten legal entities in late December on the suspicion that they committed 16 criminal offences, including abuse of office and money laundering. The alleged illegal proceeds are EUR 1.6 million. According to unofficial information obtained by the portal 24ur, one of the complaints was filed against the Ljubljana mayor's son Damijan Janković.