News roundup - Monday, 13 February

Ljubljana, 13 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 13 February:

EU Commission upgrades Slovenia's growth forecast

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission upgraded Slovenia's economic growth forecast to 1% for this year and 2% for 2024, up by 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively, from its autumn forecast. Inflation is expected to slow to 6.1% this year in the winter forecast, an improvement from 6.5% projected in the autumn. Meanwhile, the forecast for Slovenia's GDP growth last year was downgraded from 6.2% to 5.1%. The Slovenian Statistics Office will release 2022 GDP growth data on Tuesday.

Poklukar, interior minister nominee, wants to tackle corruption, manage migration, depoliticise police

LJUBLJANA - The nominee for interior minister, Boštjan Poklukar, listed the fight against corruption; management of migrations; and the police force's depoliticisation, professionalisation and modernisation as top priories in a hearing before the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, which then backed his nomination in a 9:6 vote. Poklukar served as interior minister already in the Marjan Šarec government (2018-2020) and is set to replace Tatjana Bobnar after she resigned over alleged political meddling in the police force in December.

Slovenia and Austria for stronger defence, military cooperation

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian and Austrian defence ministers Marjan Šarec and Klaudia Tanner urged strengthening defence and military cooperation, and cooperation in civil protection and disaster relief as they met in Ljubljana. They assessed the current military cooperation as intensive, especially in the fields of training, education and military exercises, while they see opportunities to deepen it in the fields of airspace control and mountain warfare. Slovenia is also interested in strengthening cooperation in military heritage, hybrid threats, and physical chemistry labs, while Tanner wants to take the radar data exchange a step further to start talks on cooperation in what is termed cross-border pursuits. The pair also discussed the security situation in Ukraine and the Western Balkans.

Austrian defence minister condemns hateful FPÖ youth post

LJUBLJANA - Austrian Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner labelled as inadmissible the anti-Slovenian message posted on social media by the youth wing of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) as she paid a visit to Slovenia for a meeting with her Slovenian counterpart. She noted that ethnic communities are an integral part of Austria. The FPÖ's youth wing upset the Slovenian minority in Carinthia last Tuesday with a post on Instagram in which it called on voters to remove the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) from power at the upcoming provincial elections and thus stop Carinthia's "Slovenisation".

Hisense R&D centre opens in Velenje

VELENJE - Hisense Europe, the Chinese-owned group which also includes Velenje-based household appliances maker Gorenje, opened an R&D centre in Velenje. The EUR 2.1 million centre will join different professions under one roof to further competitiveness and development of household appliances. Hisense Europe decided to invest in the R&D centre to create a workplace that will encourage cooperation where agile methods of product development will be easy to establish, Hisense Europe board member Boštjan Pečnik said at the press conference following the opening ceremony, which was also attended by President Nataša Pirc Musar.

Interior Ministry denies allegations of mass deportations

LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry says claims of mass deportations of migrants from Slovenia to Croatia and Bulgaria are misinformation, while acting Interior Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik has requested a report for the case of a Pakistani international protection seeker that was returned to his country in January. The claims of mass deportations come as a response to the violations by the Centre for Foreigners in the asylum seeking process of the Pakistani citizen. The ministry said that in 2022 the police delivered eight asylums seekers to Croatia and none to Bulgaria. In 2023, they have only delivered one to Croatia.

Court confirms integrity breach by former C-bank vice-governor

LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court has upheld the anti-graft watchdog's decision in the case of Marko Bošnjak, who resigned as vice-governor of Slovenia's central bank in 2020 following the accusations that he evaded rental income tax. Bošnjak turned to court after the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption found in late 2019 that he was unable to provide evidence that he paid tax from the rent he earned for his apartment in Ljubljana. The watchdog called the ruling an important precedent.

Delo poll: Logar tops popularity ranking, Left overtakes SocDems

LJUBLJANA - The Left, polling at 6.2%, has overtaken its fellow coalition Social Democrats (SD), at 5.4%, for the first time since last year's general election in Delo's latest opinion poll. The Left ranks third after PM Robert Golob's Freedom Movement (27.6%) and the opposition Democrats (19.8%). Anže Logar, the SDS's former foreign minister who lost the run-off presidential election last year, meanwhile tops the ranking of the most popular politicians.

Regular petrol flat, diesel down by 4 cents at midnight

LJUBLJANA - The price of regular petrol off motorways will stay the same at EUR 1.355 a litre, while diesel will cost 4 cents less at EUR 1.489 from Tuesday. The new price of heating oil is EUR 1,083 a litre, down by 6.8 cents, the Environment, Climate and Energy Ministry announced. The new prices will be in force until 27 February and already take into account the changes to the regulation on excise duties for energy the government adopted earlier in the day.

Job vacancies down in last quarter of 2022

LJUBLJANA - The number of job vacancies dropped for the second consecutive quarter in the final quarter of 2022 after rising for a year and a half. Still, the demand for workers remains high, data from the Statistics Office shows. In the final quarter of 2022, more than 23,000 vacancies were reported, down 5.5% compared to the previous quarter but 6,400 more than in the pre-Covid final quarter of 2019. Compared to the last quarter of 2021, the number of vacancies was up by 1.4%.

Report alleges car parks for Nordic ski worlds built in protected areas

PLANICA - While the final preparations for the upcoming Nordic World Ski Championships are in full swing at Planica, web portal reported that temporary car parks for the event had been built in protected areas and without the necessary environmental permits. The portal cited Kranjska Gora Mayor Henrika Zupan in claiming that the organising committee failed to cooperate with the municipality and did not ask for an environmental permit. The organisers deny the allegations.

Aid campaigns for Turkey in full swing in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The city of Celje will be collecting aid for its earthquake-stricken Turkish twin city Gaziantep from Tuesday to Thursday and the convoy with the humanitarian aid will leave for Gaziantep at the end of the week. The Turkish Embassy in Ljubljana, which launched it campaign last Tuesday, is still collecting heaters, sleeping mats and tents, while it has stopped collecting clothes and food as the response to the campaign has been immense. A tonne and a half of aid has already been shipped off, with the next shipment planned to leave by the end of the week.

Awards piling up for Seascape's latest sailing yacht

LJUBLJANA - The latest boat from Seascape, a Slovenian sailboat development and production company, has become the most awarded sailboat in the nautical industry. The Beneteau First 36, a speedy cruiser, has also won the title of European Sailing Yacht of the Year 2023, the Seascape team, led by director Andraž Mihelin, told the press as they presented the sailboat and the process that led to its production in Podpeč near Ljubljana.

Festival shows best of world mountaineering films

LJUBLJANA - Some of the best mountaineering films from around the globe will be on show at the 17th Mountain Film Festival taking place in Ljubljana, Domžale, Radovljica and Celje until Saturday. The opening film, screened at Cankarjev Dom tonight, One for the River: The Story of the Sava joins four kayakers as they paddle down the Sava sampling water, surveying birds, and getting to know the river's wild past, dark history and uncertain future.

Maribor ballet to perform in Hong Kong

HONG KONG, China - The SNG Maribor Ballet ensemble will start their five-day guest appearance in Hong Kong on Thursday by performing Radio and Juliet, and Le Sacre Du Printemps, both productions directed by Edward Clug. The ensemble will also perform both ballets at Friday's official opening of the 51st Hong Kong Arts Festival. The ensemble's itinerary also features four performances based on Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt.

© STA, 2023