News roundup - Friday, 3 February

Ljubljana, 3 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 3 February:

Thirteen police officers suspected of crime during 2020 and 2021 rallies

LJUBLJANA - Over a dozen police officers are suspected of having committed criminal acts during the anti-government protests between 2020 and 2021, two reports have found. Of the 13 officers, four are high-ranking individuals. Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav said that several instances of suspicion of criminal acts, among them illegal restraint, human dignity violations, abuse of power and negligence, had been determined.

Proposed ouster motion against culture minister falls through

LJUBLJANA - The New Slovenia (NSi) will not be filing an ouster motion against Culture Minister Asta Vrečko, having fallen two MP signatures short after the opposition Democrats (SDS) made their support conditional on NSi's support for a motion of no confidence against the entire government. The NSi is not dismissing the possibility of endorsing the SDS's motion, but the party has said it had not yet seen the content of the motion.

Exports up by 34% in 2022, imports by 37%

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia exported EUR 52.9 billion worth of goods in 2022, up by 34.2% compared to 2021. The import of goods in 2022 rose by 36.6% to EUR 56.8 billion, the Statistics Office said. Slovenia's main trade partner last year was Switzerland. The external trade deficit in 2022 amounted to EUR 3.8 billion, putting the export-import ratio at 93.2%. Contributing the most to total exports as well as imports last year were chemicals and related products.

Cooperation in focus of defence minister's Budapest trip

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec wrapped up a two-day official visit to Hungary. He and his counterpart Kristof Szalay Bobrovniczky agreed that the good defence and military cooperation should be strengthened further. They also talked about cooperation in the EU and NATO and the war in Ukraine. Šarec thanked Szalay Bobrovniczky for Hungary's patrolling of Slovenia's sky and the possibility to use the country's military training grounds.

Fiscal Council head finds additional wage rises in public sector unacceptable

LJUBLJANA - Fiscal Council president Davorin Kračun told the parliamentary Public Finances Oversight Commission that the planned government budget deficit for 2023 is already among the highest in the EU even without the announced extra pay rises in the public sector. He said increasing labour costs before a wage reform is implemented was unacceptable.

Parliament adapts agriculture act to CAP and EU acquis

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the agriculture act, which complement the legal basis for the implementation of the common agricultural policy (CAP). The changes include general adjustments for the implementation of the strategic plan for CAP, specific administrative procedure arrangements, financial support in the form of financial instruments, the introduction of new records and the possibility of early just cause dismissal of the food chain guardian.

MPs pass changes to state administration act

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the state administration act that set down the competence of individual ministries and the transfer of competence or areas of work in line with the government reshuffle that was endorsed in last year's referendum. The changes will allow the new cabinet line-up to become operational.

Slovenia wants to improve anti-SLAPP directive

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia supports the objective of the proposed EU directive against SLAPP lawsuits but finds there are many shortcomings that need to be addressed, Igor Šoltes, state secretary at the Justice Ministry, said. He said the goal was to "improve the quality of the wording" by more clearly defining the terminology and striking the right balance between protection against SLAPP lawsuits and access to recourse.

Slovenian fund to build wind farm in Serbia

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Alfi Green Energy Fund signed a loan agreement with a bank consortium to build a large-scale wind farm in Serbia. According to the Serbian business group MK Group, which is a partner in the project, the value of the 106 MW project is around EUR 155 million. The newspaper Finance reported that the loan amounts to EUR 100 million. The funds will go towards realizing the Krivača project in eastern Serbia, which the Slovenian energy company Petrol was developing until the end of 2021, but then backed out.

North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley gaining momentum

LJUBLJANA - The transnational project North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley, the joint effort of Slovenia, Croatia and the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, keeps gaining momentum. After recently securing a Horizon Europe Programme grant, the project has now won a REPowerEU grant. The Slovenian Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy, which coordinates the project, will receive about EUR 354,000 after the North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley successfully passed the evaluation phase of an open call under the European Commission's REPowerEU plan.

Petrol to digitise supply logistics

LJUBLJANA - Energy company Petrol plans to completely automate and digitise the process oil derivatives' logistics, including improving utilisation of fuel tankers and providing delivery times to customers. The EUR 7.4 million project for will be finalised by March 2024. The project will entail complete automation, integration and digitalisation of processes of purchasing, logistics and sales.

HSE group sends electrotechnical equipment to Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - Four companies from the state-owned power group Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE) have sent aid to Ukraine in the form of electrotechnical equipment for household and companies after calls by Prime Minister Robert Golob and Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer, HSE said. "We believe that the donated equipment will get to the right people and that it will help overcome the difficult period that Ukraine is facing," HSE wrote.

Sexual harassment charges filled against drama teacher

LJUBLJANA - Sexual harassment charges were brought against university drama teacher and actor Matjaž Tribušon at the beginning of December 2022 after accusations were levelled against him by his former student. The indictment is not yet final, as Tribušon's legal team has filed an appeal, the newspaper Delo reported. The story broke out in February 2021, when actress Mia Skrbinac told the public broadcaster TV Slovenija that an AGRFT professor, whom she did not name at the time, conducted physical and psychological violence against her in 2014-2016 during and after class.

Farmers oppose strict wolf protection

LJUBLJANA - Several organisations of Slovenian farmers called for an end to the strict protection of wolf as they criticised the decision by Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan to join a group of ministers in favour of keeping existing conservation rules for the wolf population in place. The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia, the Association of Slovenian Rural Youth, the Farmer's Union and the Agricultural Cooperative Slovenia find Brežan's stance unacceptable.

Registered unemployment down over 18% y/y in January

LJUBLJANA - The number of people registered as unemployed reached 55,386 in January, up by 4.1% over December and down by 18.4% over January 2022, the Employment Service said. Some 4,680 people registered with the service in January as their fixed-term contracts ran out at the end of the year. Ljubljana, 3 February - The number of people registered as unemployed reached 55,386 in January, up by 4.1% over December and down by 18.4% over January 2022, the Employment Service said on Friday.

Slovenian researchers help prove benefits of DNA-adapted health treatments

LJUBLJANA - A number of Slovenian doctors and researchers took part in a breakthrough international study showing that the use of medicines tailored to patients' pharmacogenetic data lowers adverse effects of drugs by 30%. The researchers in Slovenia were led by Vita Dolžan, the head of the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the Ljubljana Medical Faculty. The study included over 50 doctors and other staff in 11 healthcare centres in Slovenia.

Kurentovanje festival back in full force

PTUJ - Shrovetide celebrations started last night with a bonfire event and the Kurent House is being launched today, a high-tech venue dedicated to the Shrovetide traditions around Ptuj, which are also a part of UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list. After two years of coronavirus restrictions, the Kurentovanje festival in Ptuj, the biggest Shrovetide event in Slovenia, is coming back in full force, starting on 11 February.

© STA, 2023