Weekly review of events involving Slovenia, 10-16 February

Ljubljana, 17 February - Below is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia from 10 to 16 February:

FRIDAY, 10 February
        LJUBLJANA - Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Ellison-Kramer strongly distanced herself on behalf of Austria from the anti-Slovenian message posted on social media by the youth wing of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) as she was summoned by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry. Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser told Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon he would to do everything possible to ensure a successful coexistence of the German- and Slovenian-speaking communities. Slovenia also urged Austria in a diplomatic note to respect the Austrian State Treaty, which calls for banning the activity of organisations that aim to deprive the Slovenian minority of its rights.
        ROME, Italy - The heads of the two umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority in Italy attended for the first time the main ceremony in Rome marking the National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe. This was the first time that they received the invitation.
        BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon met her Kyrgyz counterpart Zheenbek Kulubaev, President Sadir Zhaparov and other officials and attended a Slovenia-Kyrgyzstan business forum in Bishkek. She stressed the importance of deepening bilateral cooperation, both economic and political, as well as of regional security and stability.
        LJUBLJANA/NEW YORK, US - President Nataša Pirc Musar called for efforts to encourage women to pursue vocational training or study science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as she attended via videolink an assembly at the UN headquarters in New York dedicated to the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to send 1,500 self-inflatable sleeping pads worth EUR 115,000 with transport included to Syria as part of earthquake relief. Earlier it announced almost a million euros worth of aid for Turkey and Syria. It has also sent staff and search dogs to Turkey.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana district prosecution said the man who assaulted activist Nika Kovač in October had been sentenced to a five-month suspended sentence with a probation period of one year.

SATURDAY, 11 February
        LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by Bojan Nastav, the former head of the Statistics Office, over his dismissal in May 2020. It said the then government's decision to dismiss Nastav was "an act of political discretion", based on the public employees act, and so the court could not delve into reviewing the grounds for the dismissal.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The four-member men's ski jumping team, Alpine skier Žan Kranjec and snowboarders Tim Mastnak and Gloria Kotnik, who all won Olympic medals in Beijing last year, were declared the winners of the 2022 Bloudek Prizes, the highest national awards for sporting achievements.

SUNDAY, 12 February
        LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec rejected in an interview for web portal Siol claims that his state secretary Damir Črnčec influenced the work of nominee for interior minister Boštjan Poklukar. "He knows what his tasks are, just as I know and just as Mister Poklukar will surely know," Šarec said.

MONDAY, 13 February
        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.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian and Austrian defence ministers Marjan Šarec and Klaudia Tanner assessed the current military cooperation between their countries as intensive, especially in training, education and military exercises. They see opportunities to deepen it in the fields of airspace control and mountain warfare.
        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.
        BERLIN, Germany - Culture Minister Asta Vrečko met with her German counterpart Claudia Roth as part of her two-day visit to Berlin. The ministers agreed there was great potential for stronger cultural relations between their countries.
        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.
        LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry said claims of mass deportations of migrants from Slovenia to Croatia and Bulgaria are misinformation, while acting Interior Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik requested a report for the case of a Pakistani asylum seeker who was returned to his country in January.
        LJUBLJANA - Scope, a ratings agency based in Berlin, retained its A stable outlook credit rating for Slovenia as its latest monitoring review of the country ended. Slovenia's A/Stable ratings are driven by the country's wealthy and resilient economy, supported by robust external performance; favourable market access and debt profile; and prudent fiscal policy.
TUESDAY, 14 February
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy expanded by 5.4% last year, however by the last quarter of the year GDP growth slowed down to an annual rate of 0.2%, fresh data by the Statistics Office showed.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia can expect the first funds from the EU recovery and resilience fund by the end of March, said Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič as he arrived for a session of EU finance ministers in Brussels. He said Slovenia had "quite a few challenges" drawing the money.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič welcomed the European Commission's November guideline proposal for a reformed EU economic governance framework as heading in the right direction. Slovenia advocates more emphasis on monitoring debt level trends as opposed to structural fiscal variables.
        LJUBLJANA - Matjaž Han, the minister of the economy, tourism and sport, announced that EUR 634.4 million in financial incentives will be available to businesses, tourism and sport this year from the ministry's own funds and other institutions in a bid to improve their competitiveness in the long run.
        LJUBLJANA - The start of the new judicial year was marked with Miodrag Đorđević taking over as the new president of the Supreme Court. Senior officials praised the progress of the judiciary while pointing to the issues yet to be fully addressed, including low pay compared to other state officials.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that Interior Ministry had chosen Minis to remove the wire fence at the Slovenian-Croatian border, the same company that erected it in response to the refugee crisis in 2015. The company's EUR 7 million bid was more than three times higher than the lowest bid. The wire fence is to be removed in four years.

WEDNESDAY, 15 February
        LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia will continue to provide aid to Ukraine to the best of its ability and as long as necessary, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee. Defence Minister Marjan Šarec meanwhile underlined Slovenia's support for Ukraine at a meeting of the US-led Ukraine support contact group in Brussels.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec said after a NATO ministerial that people who care about Slovenia's security will support a resolution under which Slovenia will commit 2% of its GDP to defence spending in 2030, adding that security is essential.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court ruled that a temporary 30% cut in prosecutors' pay during the pandemic in early 2020 was unconstitutional as it sided with prosecutors who claimed the pay cut was unwarranted and not backed up by sufficient arguments.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Council withdrew three legislative proposals that would create a legal basis to establish provinces in Slovenia because they were not expected to pass in the lower chamber. Marko Lotrič, the president of the upper chamber, said the idea was to draw up a better proposal.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič received representatives of Amnesty International Slovenia ahead of the upcoming 31st anniversary of the erasure of some 26,000 Yugoslav nationals from the permanent residence registry, to call for immediate redress of injustices done to the erased.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court ruled that the existing system of income tax for workers who commute for work to Austria is not incompatible with the Constitution. The judges said such workers are not treated unequally compared to those who work in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar nominated Klaudija Sedar, a 42-year-old representative of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as a member of the new governing council at RTV Slovenija to represent the religious communities in the country in line with the changes to the public broadcaster act endorsed in a November 2022 referendum and based on a public call to registered religious communities.
THURSDAY, 16 February
        LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič reiterated Slovenia's support for North Macedonia's EU accession as she received her Macedonian counterpart Talat Xhaferi. Xhaferi was also received by President Nataša Pirc Musar, Prime Minister Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon, who all expressed support for North Macedonia's efforts to join European integration.
        LJUBLJANA - The government approved the asset management plan of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) for this year, which envisages a 7.3% return on equity, which is much higher than the estimate for 2022. Total dividends for 2023 for the state, SSH and the public pension fund are expected to amount to EUR 159.6 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a regulation on the implementation of the European cohesion policy in 2021-2027, which will allow Slovenia to draw some EUR 3.2 billion in EU cohesion funds. The first request for funding should be approved next month.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill designed to preserve and develop handicrafts and the skills needed to preserve Slovenia's cultural heritage and earmarked EUR 1.4 million this year and EUR 1.6 million next year to implement it. Handicraft has not been regulated by law until now.
        LJUBLJANA - The government raised sickness benefit for the self-employed in the culture sector by 50% this year in what it said was the first in a series of measures to tackle the status of the self-employed.
        LJUBLJANA - Professional firefighters staged a rally over low pay, voicing their dissatisfaction with the government's handling of their situation and complaining of pay disparities. They urged the government to increase their pay by eight wage brackets.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) forecasts that Slovenia's economy will expand by 1% this year, down from its estimate of 1.8% in autumn, before it bounces back to a 2.3% growth rate in 2024.
        LJUBLJANA - Energy trader Gen-I shareholders, Gen energija and Gen-EL, named a new chairman and board members as a one-year term of the court-appointed interim management board ended. Maks Helbl was appointed chairman, while the new board members, joining Primož Stopnik, are Andreja Zupan and Sandi Kavalič, who have all have been with the company for over ten years.
        LJUBLJANA - Official statistics showed there were 935,300 persons in employment in Slovenia at the end of 2022, an increase of 2% on the year before and the highest number since records began.
        LJUBLJANA - The council of the public pension fund ZPIZ decided that pensions will rise by 5.2% as of this year in regular annual indexation.

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