News roundup - Thursday, 9 February

Ljubljana, 9 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 9 February:

President talks Ukraine, W Balkans, culture and sport with German counterpart

LJUBLJANA - In what is her second visit abroad after being sworn in, President Nataša Pirc Musar met her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Discussing topical issues such as climate change, the Western Balkans and the war in Ukraine, the pair pointed to Slovenia's and Germany's shared positions and excellent relations. Steinmeier said he was glad to host the first woman president of the country with which Germany had long fostered a deep friendship, adding that despite its small size, Slovenia had achieved great things.

PM says it's big EU countries' turn to help Ukraine

BRUSSELS, Belgium - In his doorstep statement on arrival in Brussels, Prime Minister Robert Golob said he will not announce Slovenia's additional help to Ukraine as he meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Now it is big EU countries' turn to help Ukraine, he said, adding that so far they had been keeping somewhat on the sidelines. He later tweeted that Slovenia would continue to help in any way it can.

Foreign Ministry summoning Austrian ambassador over FPÖ youth's post

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry said it would summon Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Ellison-Kramer for a meeting after the Carinthian youth wing of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) posted an anti-Slovenian message on Instagram. The ministry condemned in the strongest terms the post in which voters were urged to remove the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) from power at the upcoming provincial elections and thus stop the province's "Slovenisation".

Slovenia sending aid to quake-hit Turkey and Syria

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia continues to send aid to Turkey and Syria after the countries were hit by a devastating earthquake earlier this week. The country is sending material aid worth more than EUR 451,000 to Turkey and humanitarian aid worth EUR 400,000 to Turkey and Syria. First, Slovenia is sending tents, hot air blowers and blankets worth EUR 275,400 to help accommodate thousands of people without shelter in southern Turkey. Additional supplies of material aid will follow. Meanwhile, the team of seven rescue dogs and handlers who are on the ground in Turkey find the situation worse than expected.

Lindav expects new minister to honour police autonomy

LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav said following the nomination of Boštjan Poklukar for interior minister that he expects the new minister will provide adequate resources for the functioning and development of the police force. He is ready to work with any minister who supports the police's autonomy and upright police leaders.

Govt launches aid for companies and farms affected by price hikes

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a regulation providing aid to small and medium-sized companies, and farms affected by the war in Ukraine. EUR 12 million has been earmarked for this temporary measure targetting companies and farms processing and selling agricultural products, of which EUR 9 million will come from EU funds. Fruit and vegetable growers as well as pork producers have been affected the most, the government said, adding that an increase in prices of construction materials had dragged up the prices of investments.

Banks say ruling on Swiss franc loan applies to single case

LJUBLJANA - The recent Supreme Court decision that ruled in favour of two Swiss franc borrowers drives home the message that such cases should be judged on a case-by-case basis and that sorting out such issues should not entail new laws, said the Slovenian Bank Association, adding that the ruling applied only to this individual case. In December, the Supreme Court rejected a bank's request for a review of a higher court's judgement, whereby upholding the first-instance court's ruling in favour of the two plaintiffs who had taken out a Swiss franc loan in what was the Supreme Court's first such decision in a series of disputes between Swiss franc borrowers and banks.

Hisense Europe to open R&D centre in Velenje

VELENJE - The Chinese-owned group Hisense Europe, which includes Velenje-based household appliances maker Gorenje, will open a new innovation centre in Velenje on Monday. The R&D centre will develop household appliances for the European market and kitchen and premium appliances for the global market. This will mean that the group will develop technologies and appliances in Velenje, no matter where the appliances will be produced and for which market, Hisense Europe wrote in the invitation to the event.

Higher education minister discusses open science at COMPET meeting

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Higher Education Minister Igor Papič attended the informal EU competitiveness ministerial which discussed open science and research infrastructure. Papič presented the role of open science in the revised Slovenian legislative framework on research and innovation. As a key challenge, he mentioned the transition to open science. He believes a joint and unified effort of all EU member states is key in negotiations with publishers and global partners.

Unions demand clarifications after govt presents public sector pay reform

LJUBLJANA - The government presented public sector pay reform plans to trade unions, with unionists saying afterwards that many unclarities still remain and that talks would be long and demanding. The plan entails new salary brackets, creation of separate pay tiers and changes to the promotion system. Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik did not wish to comment on the cost of the reform, but said the lowest salary would be as high as the minimum wage, whereas now, several brackets are lower that the minimum wage.

NSi seeks explanation about healthcare investment situation

LJUBLJANA - The opposition party New Slovenia (NSi) requested an emergency session of the parliamentary Health Committee to call for an explanation about what the party sees as some of healthcare investments being jeopardised. The effort to draw part of EU funds and funds available under the Recovery and Resilience Plan is also up in the air, the NSi said. The party believes that the 2021 act on providing funds for investment in healthcare for the period from 2021 to 2031 should not exist only on paper. The law set aside some EUR 2 billion to improve the situation.

Labour Court rules in favour of students in scholarship dispute

LJUBLJANA - Covid-19 legislation provisions that led to results from 2019/20 competitions being disregarded as a criterion in applications for Zois state merit scholarships have been declared as unlawful by the Ljubljana Labour and Social Court, the newspaper Delo reported. The argument was that only 48 of the planned 68 competitions at state level were held during that school year and that only 37% of secondary school students took part. Twelve lawsuits have so far been filed over the issue, with constitutional jurist and law philosopher Andraž Teršek being among those who brought attention to it.

Ljubno wins award for rural development and village renewal

LJUBNO OB SAVINJI - The municipality of Ljubno, a small commune some 40 km north-east from the capital, has received a golden award at the European Competition for Rural Development and Village Renewal. Ljubno was one of 21 participating villages in 12 European countries. This was the 17th rendition of European award for village renewal with the theme Building Bridges, coordinated by the European Association for Rural Development and Village Renewal (ARGE). Austria's Stadtschlaining was declared the overall winner.

Exhibition featuring grave without a body opens in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - A new exhibition is on display at the City Museum in Ljubljana featuring archaeological findings that date back to the times of the Roman colony Emona, which was located on the site of present-day Ljubljana. The findings, ancient Roman graves, include a very rare find of a grave without a body. Dubbed A Mysterious Grave Without a Body, the exhibition will showcase artefacts from two graves and photographs of the excavation effort. It will run until 8 October.

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