News roundup - Tuesday, 7 February

Ljubljana, 7 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 7 February:

Pirc Musar expected in Berlin on second visit abroad

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar will be on a working visit to meet German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday. This will be the official meeting between the two presidents. According to Pirc Musar's office, the main topics of the talks will be the Russian aggression against Ukraine, an issue on which Slovenia's and Germany's positions are aligned, the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans, climate diplomacy, climate change and climate adaptation, and the importance of biodiversity, as well as digitalisation, with a focus on technological developments in relation to human rights, data protection and misinformation.

MOL might sell some assets to get OMV takeover go-ahead

LJUBLJANA - Hungarian fuel retailer MOL told the STA it was willing to sell off some of its assets in order to acquire the European Commission's market concentration approval to take over OMV petrol stations in Slovenia. The statement came a day after the newspaper Dnevnik reported MOL was about to start selling some of its gas stations. MOL neither confirmed nor denied the report, saying only that it is cooperating in the in-depth investigation of the European Commission.

Slovenia sends seven search dogs with handlers to Turkey

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia sent a coordination expert and a group of seven rescue dogs with handlers plus four assistants to Turkey. They will operate in the earthquake-hit country as part of the EU-led effort under the Civil Protection Mechanism. The rescue dogs with their handlers will already be active on the ground on Wednesday, the head of the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Leon Behin told the press. They are expected to stay in Turkey for four or five days, as exhaustion usually sets in after such a period.

Police unions and parties have mixed feelings about ministerial nominee

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's two police trade unions remember Boštjan Poklukar's first stint as interior minister with mixed feelings, but they both expect that in his second term as minister he will see to tackling the career system and securing fair pay in the police force. Parties' reactions to the nominee have been mostly reserved. Citing unofficial sources, some media have reported that the Left and the Social Democrats are not too happy with Poklukar. He will present his plans at a hearing before the relevant parliamentary committee on Monday.

Supreme Court rules in favour of Swiss franc loan borrowers

LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court has ruled that a Swiss franc loan entails an unlimited currency risk that only borrowers are exposed to and that such a loan contract is significantly disproportionate to the detriment of the borrower in what an association representing franc loan borrowers called a landmark judgement. Attaching the judgement to their written statement, the Frank Association said it was the Supreme Court's "first judgement on the franc loan issue to conclude that such contracts were null and void. The final judgement is thus upheld".

EU Commission okays state aid scheme for Slovenian companies affected by Ukraine war

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission has approved a EUR 100 million state aid scheme in support of companies in Slovenia affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The aid will cover part of the salaries paid by the eligible beneficiaries to employees whose working hours have been reduced. "The measure will be open to companies of all sizes and across sectors, with the exception of the financial and insurance one and the processing and marketing of agricultural products sector, the Commission said. It will be available until 31 December 2023.

Šinko stresses importance of sustainable agriculture systems

LJUBLJANA - Addressing an international conference on sustainable livestock production and meat consumption in the EU, Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko stressed the importance of sustainable agriculture systems. She noted agriculture was an activity that remained highly dependent on natural conditions, especially the availability of water and soil. Šinko participated in the conference via video link and at the invitation of French Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Marc Fesneau.

Slovenia stresses need for new EU industrial policy

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Economy Ministry State Secretary Matevž Frangež highlighted the need for the new European industrial policy as he participated in an informal meeting of EU ministers in charge of competitiveness in Stockholm. "The EU is lagging behind the US as well as China in terms of investment in research, development and innovation, and so this is not only a response to the US inflation reduction act but also a way for us to make up for the lagging behind over the past two decades. The new EU industrial policy is a must for Europe to regain its leading industrial and innovation position," Frangež told the meeting.

Calls made for doctors to be protected as public officials

LJUBLJANA - The Medical Chamber has filed criminal complaints against ten individuals for allegedly spreading hate speech on social networks that was directed against healthcare workers, chamber president Bojana Beović announced. This comes as medical organisations have called for doctors to be protected by law as public officials. The criminal complaints come at the proposal of the Young Doctors of Slovenia group, which informed the chamber about the comments published under their post on Facebook in which they had called for zero tolerance for violence.

Warnings about online dangers on Safer Internet Day

LJUBLJANA - Safety on the internet is the duty and responsibility of all users, said the Interior Ministry ahead of Safer Internet Day, observed on 7 February. Last year the police recorded 163 criminal offences of displaying, making, possessing and distributing pornographic material, which includes acts of sexual abuse on the internet. There were 95 victims under the age of 18. There were also 59 children among the suspects. In the first quarter of 2022 89% of Slovenians and 99% of Slovenian youth were using the internet, says the data from the Statistics Office (SURS).

Prešeren Prize ceremony notes role of art in transient everyday life

LJUBLJANA - This year's Prešeren Prize winners Ema Kugler and Herman Gvardjančič received the top national accolades for lifetime achievement in culture and arts at the annual ceremony on the eve of Culture Day. The 2023 Prešeren Fund Prize winners also accepted their awards at the ceremony at the Cankarjev Dom arts centre. The chair of the Prešeren Fund management board, Jožef Muhovič, said in his keynote address that artists, unlike transient concepts, were able to broaden perspectives and deepen insights.

New strategy emerging for Slovenia's audiovisual industry

LJUBLJANA - A new strategic plan is in the works for the audiovisual industry in Slovenia, aiming to boost its potential. Despite problems, analysis has shown that not everything is grim: the industry generated EUR 24 million in 2021 with added value per employee 47% above Slovenian average. The strategy sets out several goals, including EUR 600 million in revenue, a well-organized film institution, EUR 500 million in public resources for programme development, Slovenian films becoming a mainstay at the world's top film festivals, and a widely accessible collection of quality Slovenian films.

Exhibition on history of Bosnian language opens in ZRC atrium

LJUBLJANA - An exhibition documenting the history of literacy in the Bosnian language from the Middle Ages to recent history opened today in the atrium of the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) in Ljubljana. The organisers say it raises awareness of the Bosnian language and its history. The exhibition will run until 20 February.

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