News roundup - Wednesday, 25 January

Ljubljana, 25 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 25 January:

Calls for Slovenian foreign policy to turn to global issues

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Prime Minister Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon announced a shift in Slovenia's foreign policy that involves not just a return to the orbit of core EU countries but also a more global perspective. Golob expects expertise and courage from diplomats and thinks that Slovenian foreign policy should turn its focus to the world. He would like Slovenia to explore how it can contribute to world peace and progress. Fajon said that despite its constraints, Slovenia must think about global issues, especially as it bids for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

New foreign policy strategy needed due to changed global situation

BRDO PRI KRANJU - The Foreign Ministry is drawing up a new foreign policy strategy. The document will put the country back at the core of the EU and help Slovenia respond to the changed global situation, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said on the sidelines of the meeting of diplomats. Ambassador Iztok Mirošič, who helped draft the strategy, said that deglobalisation and Russia's aggression against Ukraine call for a different foreign policy, while it is right the strategy should reflect a two-track policy.

Foreign Ministry optimistic about Slovenia's UN Security Council bid

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon and Franci But, special envoy for the promotion of Slovenia's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, said they are moderately optimistic about the candidacy. "We are working very actively on the project," Fajon told the press on the sidelines of the annual meeting of Slovenian diplomats. Ambassador But He said it would be "very good for the international community if Slovenia is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council" because of the values the country stands for.

Golob welcomes Germany's decision to send Leopards to Ukraine

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Prime Minister Robert Golob welcomed Germany's decision to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine and allow other countries to do the same. He sees the move primarily as a strong symbolic message, but does not believe that it will have a decisive military impact in Ukraine's fight against Russia. By making this this decision, Germany is in a sense "burning the bridges it had kept open," he said.

Pope Francis shocked by allegations against Rupnik

VATICAN CITY, Vatican - Pope Francis told the Associated Press hat he was shocked by the sexual and psychological abuse allegations against Marko Rupnik, a Slovenian Jesuit priest and artist. "For me, it was a surprise, really. This, a person, an artist of this level - for me was a big surprise, and a wound," the pope told AP in his first response to a case that has been rocking the Catholic Church. He denied having a role in deciding the case of the famous artist.

Minister announces busy investment, legislative year for energy sector

LJUBLJANA - Funds for renewables are not a problem, while siting new plants and connecting them to the grid is a challenge, Minister of the Environment, Climate and Energy Bojan Kumer said. He expects 2023 to be a busy year in terms of investments and legislation for the energy sector while pointing out green transition. A bill on siting renewables is in the making and Kumer expects its passage in April or May. He also announced the elimination of some unnecessary consents for connecting new plants to the distribution network, saying this was a major bottleneck.

President and minority MPs discuss health reform

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar wrapped up her series of talks with representatives of lawmakers by hosting the two MPs representing the Italian or Hungarian minority. The discussion with Felice Žiža and Ferenc Horvath focused on the planned health reform and other current political issues. Pirc Musar, Žiža, who represents the Italian minority in parliament, and Horvath, an MP representing the Hungarian minority, agreed that such meetings were a useful contribution to public debate, the president's office said.

Social care facilities heads demand higher pay as well

LJUBLJANA - Directors of social care institutions have added theirs to a long list of pay demands in the public sector. They want a EUR 700 gross bonus paid out monthly until a public sector pay reform planned by the government is implemented. The Association of Social Care Institution Directors said that they and other management staff wanted higher pay because the pay scale at public institutions has become distorted.

Analysis confirms pay disparities in public sector

LJUBLJANA - The government's recent analysis of the single public sector pay system corroborates claims of pay disparities, finding that salary increases have varied across different public sector groups. The number of public sector employees has been rising over the years, which has translated into a growing wage bill. The average gross pay has also risen, from EUR 1,699 in 2008 to EUR 2,264 in the first half of 2022.

Central bank downgrades GDP growth to 4.7% for 2022

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's GDP is expected to grow by 4.7% in 2022, the Slovenian central bank forecasts in its latest publication on macroeconomic trends, after it already downgraded the figure to 5% in December. Short-term model assessment shows 0.1% quarterly GDP growth, which means 4.7% annual growth in 2022, Banka Slovenije wrote in January's Review of Macroeconomic Trends. The central bank said that at the end of 2022 the eurozone experienced signs of weaker economic activity, but prospects for this year are improving.

Tourist arrivals up nearly 47% to 5.9 million last year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 5.87 million tourist arrivals in 2022, a 46.6% increase on the year before. The number of nights rose by 38.5% to 15.59 million, show data released by the Statistics Office. Domestic tourist arrivals reached 1.93 million, down 11% compared to 2021, while foreign tourist arrivals rose by 114.8% to 3.9 million. Nights by domestic guests fell by 14.7%, while those by visitors from abroad rose by 100.2% to almost 10.1 million.

Ivo Boscarol honoured for lifetime achievement

LJUBLJANA - Ivo Boscarol, an entrepreneur who sold his successful ultra-light aircraft maker US industrial conglomerate Textron for EUR 218 million last year, won the lifetime achievement award handed out by the Manager Association. Under his leadership Pipistrel became a leading global maker of ultralight aircraft. Boscarol put not only the company but also Slovenia on the global map, the association said. "I'm deeply honoured as well as a bit surprised to have been chosen by the Manger Association for this accolade," Boscarol said.

Business sentiment drops again in January

LJUBLJANA - After going up slightly at the end of last year, business sentiment in Slovenia dropped once again in January, with the relevant index down on both the monthly and yearly levels, by 1.5 and 6.3 percentage points, respectively, fresh data from the Statistics Office show. On the monthly level, the drop is the result of lower consumer confidence. The outlook also deteriorating in services, retail and the construction industry.

Granny's Sexual Life nominated for Cezar

PARIS, France - After winning the European Film Academy (EFA) award for best short film, Urška Djukić's Granny's Sexual Life has now been nominated for Cezar, the French film award, for best animated short. Djukić's animated documentary is up against Margot Reumont's Caline and Marie Larrive's Noir-soleil in the shorts category. Cezar winners will be announced on 24 February.

Slovenian researchers win award for treating dog dementia

LJUBLJANA - Urban Košak from the Faculty of Pharmacy in Ljubljana and his team have received an award at the prestigious Biofit event, focused on early-stage innovations in life sciences held in Marseille, for developing a new drug to alleviate the symptoms of dementia in dogs. The researchers developed a new selective inhibitor of butyrylcholinesterase, a substance that can affect brain processes, and improve memory, cognitive functions and learning abilities.

NLB launching Southeast Europe art collection

LJUBLJANA - Banking group NLB will start a new art collection called SEE ART to showcase contemporary artists from the region. The bank plans to invest EUR 100,000 annually to acquire works of art. The bank already keeps an art collection, having purchased and collected around 2,000 works in the past, a selection of which is exhibited at Bankarium. It now wants to resume purchases of art.

Marko Jug appointed UKC Ljubljana boss with full powers

LJUBLJANA - Marko Jug, a traumatologist, was appointed full-fledged UKC Ljubljana director general for four years after leading the country's largest hospital since last September in acting capacity. He was appointed by the hospital's governing council on Wednesday, but still needs the government's approval. The council selected him from three candidates.

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