News roundup - Wednesday, 15 February

Ljubljana, 15 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 15 February:

Foreign and defence ministers say Slovenia will help Ukraine as long as necessary

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 to Ukraine at a meeting of the US-led Ukraine support contact group in Brussels, saying Slovenia would provide humanitarian, material, financial and military support for as long as necessary. This comes after PM Robert Golob's statements from the EU summit last week about it now being the time for big EU member states "to do their share" in helping Ukraine.

Šarec says those who care about security will back increased defence spending

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. Šarec expects differing debates amid the adoption of the 2040 army development resolution, which his ministry unveiled in December 2022. Under the resolution, Slovenia's defence spending will increase to 2% of the country's GDP until 2030.

Court rules pay cut for prosecutor during pandemic unconstitutional

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court has 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. The 30% pay cut for prosecutors and certain other office holders was in place between 11 April and 31 May 2020 under the provisions of the first omnibus act designed to tackle the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Upper chamber withdraws bills creating provinces

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. It was Marko Lotrič, the president of the upper chamber, who proposed the councillors withdraw the three bills in order to draw up a better proposal to reach a broader political and social consensus. The bills proposed for Slovenia to have 15 provinces as an intermediary stage of government between the 212 municipalities and the national government, with a special status for the capital Ljubljana.

Speaker calls for redress of injustices done to the erased

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. She labelled the act as a "legal genocide" that needs to be remembered and addressed, and announced she would read a letter at a National Assembly session in commemoration of the erasure.

Taxation of cross-border commuters not incompatible with Constitution

LJUBLJANA - The existing system of income tax for workers who commute for work to Austria is not incompatible with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has ruled. The judges said such workers are not treated unequally compared to those who work in Slovenia. The motion for review was lodged by a group of centre-right MPs in 2019 with the argument that cross-border commuters are treated unequally because they pay income tax in Austria and additional income tax in Slovenia.

Scope keeps Slovenia's credit rating at A

LJUBLJANA - Scope, a ratings agency based in Berlin, has found no need to change its A stable outlook credit rating for Slovenia as its latest monitoring review of the country ended on Monday, the Slovenian Finance Ministry said. Slovenia's A/Stable ratings are driven by the country's wealthy and resilient economy, supported by the country's robust external performance; favourable market access and debt profile; and prudent fiscal policy, supporting a gradual reduction of primary deficits, the agency wrote.

Protestant to represent religious communities on new RTV council

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar has 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. Pirc Musar selected the representative of religious communities 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 to propose their candidates.

Govt calls for public hearing in deliberation on TV Slovenija act

LJUBLJANA - The government proposed holding a public hearing of witnesses and experts as the Constitutional Court deliberates on a law that changes the governance of the Slovenian public broadcaster. The proposal, to be referred to the Constitutional Court, seeks RTV Slovenija journalists and TV hosts Ksenija Horvat and Igor E. Bergant and the head of the works council Robert Pajk as witnesses. They also propose the court hear Igor Vobič of the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences as an expert. The court is due to deliberate on the matter again on Thursday but it is not clear whether it will reach a decision.

Freedom Movement announces 5% pension raise

LJUBLJANA - The senior coalition Freedom Movement confirmed that pensions will rise by about 5% in line with the annual adjustment to be decided on by the ZPIZ public pension fund on Thursday. The party moreover pointed to a number of measures adopted in recent months in order to support this vulnerable group.

Slovenia referred to EU Court over illegal landfill

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission has referred Slovenia back to the EU Court of Justice for failing to fully comply with a 2015 judgment to remove illegal waste deposited near an old zinc factory in Celje. "To comply with the judgment, Slovenia is expected to take all the necessary measures to ensure that this landfill is closed and rehabilitated as soon as possible," the Commission said. This is a second referral to Court, which may result in financial penalties for the time elapsed from the first judgment until compliance has been achieved.

Culture Minister Vrečko talks cooperation in Berlin

BERLIN, Germany - Culture Minister Asta Vrečko paid a two-day working visit to Germany at the beginning of the week, with the Culture Ministry announcing in a press release that Vrečko and counterpart Claudia Roth discussed a number of topics, including opportunities for cultural cooperation between the two countries. The pair focused on challenges in the field of culture and the Frankfurt Book Fair, and agreed there was major potential for strengthening ties in culture.

DARS gets two new supervisors

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) dismissed motorway company DARS supervisor Metod Dragonja and appointed Sašo Rink and Tomaž Kuntarič as representatives of capital in the supervisory board. Both will start their four-year terms on Thursday. Rink is the director of the Ljubljana municipal housing fund, and Kuntarič is a former director of the state-run Restitution Fund (SOD).

Wages in 2022 down by around 5% in real terms

LJUBLJANA - The average monthly wage in Slovenia reached EUR 2,023.92 gross in 2022, which is up 2.8% from 2021 in nominal terms but down 5.5% in real terms. The average net wage stood at EUR 1,318.64, up 3.8% in nominal and down 4.6% in real terms, the Statistics Office reported. The average gross wage was up by 6.2% in nominal terms in the private sector but down by 2.5% in the public sector.

Two-thirds of employers intend to raise wages in H1

LJUBLJANA - Some 65% of Slovenian employers plan to raise wages in the first half of the year, shows Manpower's survey on trends in salaries and employee benefits, with over a third projecting an increase between 6 and 10%. Most changes in pay will be due to high inflation, keeping current employees, attracting new ones, and the minimum wage increasing.

Alpe-Adria tourism fair presenting Slovenia's greenness

LJUBLJANA - The international Alpe-Adria tourism fair got under way at the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, with Economy, Tourism and Sport Minister Matjaž Han noting its role as one of the most important tourism-related events in Slovenia. He said the event complied with the new tourism strategy in the direction of greenness and lower carbon footprint. More than 250 providers of tourism-related services from several countries are featured at the event, with Montenegro being this year's partner country.

PM and Ljubljana rector discuss challenges in higher education

LJUBLJANA - Challenges and needs of Slovenian society in higher education, including cooperation between businesses, higher education, science and politics, were discussed as PM Robert Golob received University of Ljubljana Rector Gregor Majdič. Golob expressed support for an action plan for Slovenia's common future development, drafted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), the Rectors' Conference, and the Coordination of Independent Research Institutes (KOSRIS). The document, which promotes a more effective and consistent implementation of measures of research and innovation policy, is expected to be signed in early March.

Izola Marina expanding to claim leading spot in Slovenian Istria

IZOLA - A new pier has been recently built at the Izola marina in what is an addition that increased the number of berths to nearly 800 and made the marina in the seaside resort Izola the largest marina in Slovenian Istria. The EUR 2.3 million investment resulted in the new pier, providing berths for vessels up to 12 metres in length. The Izola marina now has more berths than its rival in Portorož, another popular seaside resort in Slovenia, the municipality of Izola told the STA.

Air and railway passenger traffic significantly up in 2022

LJUBLJANA - Almost 15 million passengers travelled by train in Slovenia last year, up almost 26% on 2021, while passenger figures at Ljubljana airport rose by a staggering 131% year-on-year to 968,800. Public transport recorded a rising trend as well, shows data published by the Statistics Office. Slovenia's ports recorded 3,623 ships, which is a 21% increase. Ship passenger figures jumped significantly, to just under 103,700.

Pahor's Quatrelle fetches EUR 60,000 at charity auction

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's former President Borut Pahor has auctioned off his 1991 Renault 4 for EUR 60,000, and will donate the proceeds to help support children battling with cancer. "The Fratar family from Dravograd, Koroška, was willing to pay 60,000 euros so I can donate them to two associations that take care of children battling with cancer," Pahor said in a video message posted to his Instagram profile. All the proceeds will go to the Gold Ribbon Institute and its founders Floor 3 Heroes.

First Slovenian book on famous ocean liner Rex launched

PIRAN - A book on the Italian ocean liner SS Rex, which used to be the pride of Italian maritime transport and as such of the Fascist regime, was presented in the Piran Maritime Museum. This is the first book in the Slovenian language about the ship sunk in 1944 off the coast of Koper by the Royal Air Force. The ship became famous twice - first in 1933 when she set the speed record for a trans-Atlantic voyage, and in 1973, when Italian director Federico Fellini depicted it in his award-winning film Amarcord.

© STA, 2023