Weekly review of events involving Slovenia, 20-26 January

Ljubljana, 27 January - Below is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia from 20 to 26 January:

FRIDAY, 20 January
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan presented the first outlines of a planned healthcare reform, announcing that Slovenia would abolish top-up health insurance at the beginning of 2025. The government will be following the Finnish and Estonian models in trying to achieve effective, digitised and sustainable healthcare. The Medical Chamber welcomed the plan, whereas a civil society group campaigning for public healthcare criticised it for failing to address the overlap between public and private healthcare.
        LJUBLJANA - A man died in a shooting in the Vič borough in Ljubljana, succumbing to severe injuries soon after the police arrived at the scene. According to unofficial information, the 34-year-old victim from Ljubljana was not a random target and was in a dispute with the Slovenian cell of the Montenegrin Kavač Clan.
        LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar and European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič discussed humanitarian aid and the EU's civil protection mechanism as they held their first meeting. The president underlined the importance of solidarity, a key principle of the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The electricity distribution system operator SODO received the go-ahead from the Energy Agency to implement its 2032 plan to invest EUR 3.5 billion in development. Most of the sum will go to the low- and medium-voltage networks.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's energy group Petrol was hit hard by the energy crisis and governments' price capping policies last year with the preliminary unaudited estimate released by the company showing it posted a net loss of EUR 12.1 million on a record EUR 9.4 billion in sales revenue.
        LENDAVA - An event marked the official start of construction of Slovenia's pilot geothermal power station on an abandoned gas well in the Lendava municipality in northeastern Slovenia. The EUR 1.2 million investment is estimated to provide 400 megawatt hours of electricity a year.

SATURDAY, 21 January
        KOBARID - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon promised more funds for the Slovenian community in Italy, as he attended a cross-border meeting of Slovenians from the Soča Valley and the Italian Udine province. He said his office is "intensively looking for concrete solutions".
        BERLIN, Germany - Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko took part in the 15th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference as part of the International Green Week in Berlin, discussing the transformation of food systems as a response to the many crises. She stressed the importance of preserving biodiversity.
        LJUBLJANA - Head teachers joined the many calls for pay rises after doctors and judges were promised better pay. They too demand a EUR 600 gross monthly bonus until a pay reform is introduced after judges and prosecutors were promised the bonus.
        CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy - Ilka Štuhec won a World Cup downhill event for women in Cortina d'Ampezzo. This was her tenth World Cup victory and sixth in downhill.
        PTUJ - A boy died after drowning at a birthday party at the Terme Ptuj spa. Maribor police said they are investigating the suspicion of negligent homicide.

SUNDAY, 22 January
        KRAKOW, Poland - Slovenia beat Montenegro 31 to 23 in what was their last game at the World Men's Handball Championship. This was Slovenia's fourth win at the tournament but it counted for little after a defeat against Spain in the main round ended their chances of qualifying for the quarter finals.

MONDAY, 23 January
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian police caught 32,042 illegal migrants on the border last year, an increase of 214% on the year before, the latest police statistics show. Afghanistan was the biggest single source country with 6,010 migrants recorded, nearly double the 2021 number. More than 5,000 came from Burundi, almost 3,900 from India, 2,400 from Pakistan and 2,100 from Bangladesh.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon and her Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani discussed cooperation in managing the Western Balkan migration route, with Fajon saying that the data on migrations was not so alarming as to require additional measures. Fajon and Tajani discussed ways in which Slovenian and Italian police forces could help control the migration flow along the Western Balkan route.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU foreign ministers agreed to continue exerting pressure on Montenegro to fill the vacancies on the Constitutional Court and emerge from a deep political and institutional crisis, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said. There was "broad agreement that we have to continue this pressure on Montenegro."
        LJUBLJANA - The New Slovenia (NSi) plans to lodge a motion of no confidence in Culture Minister Asta Vrečko after the government decided to merge a museum dedicated to Slovenia's independence that was established by the former government with the existing Museum of Contemporary History. The party sees the merger as "a step in the wrong direction".
        KRANJ - A court in Kranj dismissed a portion of a claim worth nearly a million euros that Janez Janša, the leader of the Democrats (SDS), lodged against a former prosecutor and four judges that were involved in the Patria corruption trial. The Kranj District Court judge issued what is called a partial judgement, which happens when one or more of several joint claims are ready for a final decision.
        LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of Petrol voted against Slovenian Sovereign Holding's (SSH) proposal to dismiss Aleksander Zupančič as a member of the supervisory board. A representative of SSH said at the extraordinary Petrol shareholder meeting that the state asset custodian still insisted on his dismissal, with the cited reason being loss of trust. The share of votes for dismissal (60%) was short of the required majority (75%).
        LJUBLJANA - After bringing a class action lawsuit against market leader Telekom Slovenije, an association of small shareholders is now also suing telecommunications services provider A1 over what it argues are unjustified unilateral price hikes of subscription plans. The VZMD claims EUR 52.3 million in damages from A1.

TUESDAY, 24 January
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed nine ministers in the Robert Golob government, completing a government reshuffle that was needed after the opposition derailed Golob's original plan with a referendum at which it suffered a defeat. The government will now have twenty ministers, of which one without portfolio, just as Golob envisioned at the outset of his term.
        LJUBLJANA - A veto on changes to the Financial Administration act was surprisingly overridden by the National Assembly as MPs of the junior coalition Left joined the ruling party Freedom Movement with votes in favour. The two parties agreed they will ask for a constitutional review of a contentious goods tracking provision, and PM Robert Golob later said all three coalition parties would do this. The human rights ombudsman decided to launch a constitutional challenge against the changes too.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob denied any involvement in an alleged corruption scandal in Kosovo in which his former company, GEN-I, is allegedly implicated. He told parliament that the Democrats (SDS) had fabricated the story to deflect attention from their leader.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly appointed Miodrag Đorđević the president of the Supreme Court in a 53:32 vote. The only candidate to apply for the job, he was nominated for the position by Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan based on positive opinions from the Supreme Court staff and the Judicial Council.
        LJUBLJANA - The government issued a regulation on the pricing of district heating which sets the maximum allowable tariff for the variable part of the heating price at EUR 98.70 per megawatt-hour. The measure applies from 1 January to 30 April and will reduce prices in 18 out of 59 district heating systems.
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed a plan to build a second rail track along the new track that is under construction between Divača and Koper in the southwest of the country. The single-track railway currently in use, which follows a completely different route, will be converted to a bicycle path.
        LJUBLJANA - The GEN energy group reported EUR 4.1 billion in revenue for 2022, up from EUR 3.5 billion the year before. Despite the difficult conditions, Slovenia's largest energy group generated an estimated EUR 23 million in net profit, down from EUR 105.6 million in 2021, the management said.

WEDNESDAY, 25 January
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - PM Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon announced at an annual meeting of diplomats 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.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon and Franc But, special envoy for the promotion of Slovenia's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, said they were moderately optimistic about the candidacy. "We are working very actively on the project," Fajon told the press.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - PM 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 it will have a decisive military impact in Ukraine's fight against Russia.
        VATICAN CITY, Vatican - Pope Francis told the Associated Press that 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," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - Directors of social care institutions 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.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's GDP is expected to grow by 4.7% in 2022, the Slovenian central bank forecast 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.
        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, showed data released by the Statistics Office. Domestic tourist arrivals reached 1.93 million, down 11%, while foreign tourist arrivals rose by 114.8% to 3.9 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Ivo Boscarol, an entrepreneur who sold his successful ultra-light aircraft maker to 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.
        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.

THURSDAY, 26 January
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Attending an annual consultation of Slovenian diplomats, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon and her Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares Bueno agreed that unity was key in a time of crisis, especially in light of the war in Ukraine and Spain's upcoming EU presidency. They share the view that their countries have excellent relations.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - President Nataša Pirc Musar highlighted the role of excellent diplomacy and coordinated foreign policy in her first address to the diplomats. She said that during her term she wants to give the presidency true substance while following the fundamental foreign policy principle of the best possible coordination between decision-makers.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič expressed her satisfaction that Slovenia's foreign policy is taking a path that leads to a renewed commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as she addressed Slovenian diplomats. She also stressed the importance of parliamentary diplomacy.
        STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Slovenia will send a police attaché to Rome in February to further improve information exchange with Italy, the Interior Ministry said after a meeting between interim Interior Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik and her Italian counterpart Matteo Piantedosi on the sidelines of an informal ministerial in Stockholm.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission has issued a reasoned opinion and two formal notices to Slovenia for non-compliance with EU law. The reasoned opinion, a final step before a possible referral to court, concerns protection of posted workers, while the first notices pertain to prevention of terrorism and to business users of online intermediary services.
        NOVO MESTO - Pharma group Krka reported a 10% revenue increase in 2022 to EUR 1.7 billion, the highest figure to date. Sales increased in the majority of Krka's key markets and in all product and service segments. Net profit rose by 17% to EUR 361 million, unaudited results showed.
        LJUBLJANA - The government set the maximum allowed retail price for natural gas for district heating systems used by protected institutions such as social care institutions, kindergartens, primary schools and community health centres. The measure will be effective as of 1 January this year.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted changes to the act on service in the Slovenian Armed Forces lowering the education requirement for joining the army. In line with the changes, which will be fast-tracked through parliament, primary education will be enough to join the army.
        LJUBLJANA - The government approved a contract on the public service performed by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) for this year, rising the funds by around 10% or by EUR 243,600 compared to last year. STA staff welcomed the development as "an important step towards providing both financial and editorial autonomy" but warned that the law governing the STA must change as well.
        LJUBLJANA - The high-profile trial in the Balkan Warrior drug trafficking case ended as the Ljubljana District Court sentenced almost a dozen defendants to prison sentences that they have already served in prison or detention, public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported.

© STA, 2023