News roundup - Thursday, 2 February

Ljubljana, 2 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 2 February:

SDS plans motion of no confidence in govt

LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) indicated it was drawing up a motion of no confidence in the government. It expects all the MPs of fellow opposition party New Slovenia (NSi) to back it if they want the SDS's support in their ouster motion targeting Culture Minster Asta Vrečko. The NSi said it could not take a stance on a proposal that has not yet been presented. Things will also depend on who the SDS will put forward as a candidate for the new PM as part of the motion, the party added.

Govt withdraws bill on bonus for judges and prosecutors

LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan announced that the government had withdrawn from parliamentary procedure the bill to give judges and prosecutors a monthly bonus of EUR 600 gross to examine the parliament's legal service's reservations about its provisions possibly not being in line with the constitution. The Association of State Prosecutors said it expected the withdrawal to be temporary and the bill to be sent back to parliament as soon as possible. The Association of Judges, sees the withdrawal as a temporary complication, and is convinced that the government will keep its promise.

MPs visits SOVA to ask about Russian spies case

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of the parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services made an unannounced visit to the national intelligence and security agency SOVA to find out why information about the arrest of alleged Russian spies made headlines recently. The commission also inquired about the performance of the GEN-I group in the Western Balkans and SOVA's activities and findings in this area. SOVA was tasked to report about the findings to the commission.

Govt adopts changes to administrative dispute act

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted changes to the administrative dispute act, with Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan telling the press after the government session the goal was to increase the efficiency of and speed up the Administrative Court proceedings. The main changes pertain to the court composition: simpler matters, which make of the bulk of Administrative Court cases, will no longer be processed by a panel of judges but by a single judge. Demanding cases will still be heard by a three-judge panel.

Šarec discussing defence cooperation in Budapest

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec is in Budapest where he will discuss the potential to boost defence and military cooperation between Slovenia and Hungary with his counterpart Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the Defence Ministry said. The ministers will also talk about the challenges their countries' armies are facing currently and about cooperation in the framework of NATO, the EU and international missions. Another item on their agenda will be efforts to modernise the Slovenian and Hungarian armies and update the defence legislation.

Slovenia among dozen countries calling for wolf protection

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan has joined 11 EU environment ministers in urging the European Commission to protect wolves in the face of the European Parliament resolution on the protection of livestock farming and large carnivores in Europe, adopted last November, which allows for reduced wolf protection. "The ministers of the environment, at a time of global biodiversity crisis, unequivocally reject the resolution's tendency to weaken the legal protection of the wolf," their statement says.

Revoz expects 2023 output to be on par with last year's

NOVO MESTO - The Renault-owned assembly plant Revoz expects production in 2023 to be comparable to that in 2022. The Novo Mesto plant reduced output and staff in March of 2022 because of irregular supply of car parts and the general crisis related to the post-Covid transformation of the automotive industry. Revoz put out some 68,000 vehicles in 2022, a figure that the company expects to uphold in 2023 but that is nonetheless far below the 96,000 vehicles assembled in 2021 before the cuts.

Novartis notes record investments in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Swiss pharma giant Novartis invested a record EUR 346 million in Slovenia in 2022. The company started the construction of a new aseptic production plant in Ljubljana and will establish a biotech centre in Mengeš. Novartis employed around 5,800 people in the country at the end of 2022, 7% up from 2021. It maintained a leading position in the Slovenian pharma market with a 14% market share. In Slovenia it includes Lek and the Slovenian subsidiaries of Sandoz and Novartis Pharma Services.

Telemach next in line to face class action lawsuit

LJUBLJANA - The association of small shareholders VZMD filed a class action lawsuit against telecommunications company Telemach over what it argues are unjustified unilateral price hikes of subscription plans over the past five years. The VZMD said Telemach's subscribers have suffered an estimated EUR 43.6 million in damages. Similar lawsuits had earlier been filed against providers Telekom Slovenije and A1, with another one to target T-2 in the coming days.

EUR 2.2 million set aside to help uphold minorities' rights

LJUBLJANA - The government has earmarked EUR 2.2 million to co-fund efforts to implement bilingualism and constitutional rights of the Italian and Hungarian minorities this year, the Government Communication Office said. The relevant act sets down that municipalities where the members of the two minorities live or self-governing ethnic communities in these municipalities receive the funds accounting for 0.15% of the municipalities' total eligible spending under the annual budget.

Aviation expert criticises govt's air connectivity efforts

LJUBLJANA - The government's decision to provide incentives for flight carriers to boost the country's air connections has been criticised by Croatian aviation expert Alen Šćuric. He told the STA that the move showed the aviation sector in Slovenia was being handled like it were in the hand of "five-year-olds". Speaking on the sidelies of an international conference on aviation in south Europe, he said Slovenia should instead broker an agreement with a flight carrier to set up routes across the Western Balkans.

Another Slovenian-founded church in US being sold

NEW YORK, US - The Diocese of Allentown in the US state of Pennsylvania has decided to sell the Slovenian-founded St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in the nearby city of Bethlehem. The nearly 110-year-old church was closed in 2008, but it reopened for special occasions in 2011 after the parishioners took matters into their own hands. The last mass at the church is to be celebrated on St Joseph's Day on 18 March, although the Slovenian community will strive to keep the church. Also in the process of being sold is the Slovenian Protestant community's church in Bethlehem.

Slovenia remembers Bučar, one of its founding fathers

LJUBLJANA - France Bučar, a key Slovenian independence figure, was praised as an upstanding person as academics and politicians discussed his legacy at a conference at the centenary of his birth. Bučar (1923-2015) was one of the main legal experts who wrote the constitution in 1991 and served as the speaker of the first elected Slovenian parliament in 1990-1992. In 1987 he contributed to the Nova Revija journal in making a case for Slovenia's democratisation and independence.

Slovenian mafioso arrested in Spain after hit and run

GRANADA, Spain - The Spanish police have coincidentally found a Slovenian citizen wanted by the Italian authorities for his suspected involvement in the mafia, the Italian press agency reported. The 63-year-old was arrested after being involved in a traffic accident in Granada in January. A warrant had been issued for the man, who is suspected of links with the 'Ndrangheta mafia organisation, blackmail, illegal carrying of weapons and involvement in drug trafficking, among other things.

© STA, 2023