News roundup - Monday, 20 February

Ljubljana, 20 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 20 February:

Slovenia working on treaty to help prosecute war crimes in Ukraine

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon presented to her EU counterparts an initiative to sign an international treaty on cooperation in criminal law that would facilitate cooperation in prosecuting war crimes in Ukraine. In May, a diplomatic conference is planned in Ljubljana on what would be the first major international treaty on cooperation in criminal law. Slovenia has drawn up the treaty in cooperation with Belgium, the Netherlands and three non-EU countries, while 77 countries have so far joined the initiative. Fajon said they were working on attracting other countries as well.

Slovenia supports joint ammunition purchases for Ukraine

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia is among the 22 EU countries that support joint EU procurement of ammunition for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers. She said defence ministers will discuss establishing an EU purchase mechanism at an informal meeting in Stockholm in early March. The proposal for EU countries to jointly purchase ammunition for Ukraine was outlined by Estonia's Urmas Reinsalu. "The goal must be a million 155 millimetre calibre artillery shells, and the cost will be around EUR 4 billion," he said.

Constitutional Court stays key provisions of amended act on RTV Slovenija

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court stayed several key provisions of the amended act on public broadcaster RTV Slovenija which determine the appointment of the newly created governing council and members of the management. The court said its decision means that procedures for the appointment of the new governing council and management can proceed while it continues deliberating, but the appointments will not take effect until it has reached a final decision on the matter. The decision to stay was confirmed in a 5:3 vote.

NATO Military Committee chair notes importance of security in Europe

LJUBLJANA - The Chief of the General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, Maj-Gen Robert Glavaš met with Admiral Rob Bauer, the chair of the NATO Military Committee, to discuss the security situation in Europe and the development of the Slovenian Armed Forces in light of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. They agreed that development and modernisation of the NATO members' armed forces are key for security of the Euro-Atlantic area. Admiral Bauer was also scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Robert Golob, President Nataša Pirc Musar, Defence Minister Marjan Šarec and representatives of the Foreign Ministry.

Govt to set out tax reform in mid-March

LJUBLJANA - The government will set out its proposal of tax reform in mid-March with PM Robert Golob telling MPs on Monday they would like to make the rich pay a fair share of the tax burden. Golob made the announcement in response to a question by opposition MP Jožef Horvat, who expressed concern that the taxpayers would pay for the projects planned by the government with higher taxes. Golob said most of the plans would not require a single euro more because the required funding had been secured in the 2023 and 2024 budgets that had been passed by parliament. "Thus it's rather irresponsible trying to scare citizens as if these were new funds."

Speaker urges full redress of wrongs suffered by the erased

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič urged amending the laws governing the status of the erased to fully redress the wrongs they suffered and replace the term erased with victims, as she opened Monday's plenary ahead of the 31st anniversary of the erasure of over 25,000 permanent residents descending from other parts ex-Yugoslavia. Klakočar Zupančič said not all wrongs have been fully addressed, with some of the erased still lacking access to health and social security rights. This is why at least access to hospital treatment and care home services should be immediately provided.

Ministry undertaking measures to address military staff shortage

LJUBLJANA - Defence Ministry will attempt to attract more soldiers by expanding military camps for students, Defence Minister Marjan Šarec announced as he was answering a question from MP Janez Žakelj of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi). Moreover, the ministry will make legislative changes to allow people who only have primary education to join the military under the condition that they enter secondary education while working in the military. Šarec also said that medical check-ups required of those who wish to become soldiers would be made more easily available.

Ministry mulling number of measures to improve status of women

LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Labour, the Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities is working on a number of measures to improve gender equality and the status of women in Slovenia, Minister Luka Mesec said as he addressed a news conference ahead on International Women's Day, dubbed Action instead of Flowers. Measures are being planned to prevent violence and to improve child support policy, divorce procedures and the economic status of women in general. A resolution on equal opportunities, focussing on labour, reproductive health and education is also in the works, Mesec announced.

West-East development gap in Slovenia expands in 2021

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - While Slovenia recorded strong economic growth in 2021, the development gap between the more prosperous west and the east grew bigger, show data released by Eurostat. When it comes to GDP per capita expressed in purchasing power standards (PPS), Western Slovenia was at 108% of the EU average in 2021, while Eastern Slovenia reached 74%. The latter's figure stayed unchanged compared to the year before, while Western Slovenia added two percentage points.

Vox Populi poll: Govt supporters outnumber opponents

LJUBLJANA - The government of Robert Golob enjoys the support of 50.8% of respondents in the latest Vox Populi poll, while 43.2% think the government is not doing a good job, and 6% are undecided. The ruling Freedom Movement remains the most popular party, polling at 26.1%, down 1.7 percentage points from last month. Support for other parties was also down, with the largest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS), dropping from 22.5% to 20.1%. PM Golob has lost one spot to rank the fifth most popular politician, being overtaken by Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan.

Slovenia gets first digital mobile operator

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia got its first digital mobile operator as Austrian telecommunication group A1 launched re:do this evening. Re:do is part of A1, but has its own team, while A1 Slovenia will continue to provide the same services to individuals and companies as so far. Mobile users will be able to switch to re:do via a mobile app and use either a digital or regular SIM card, which can be ordered home or bought at Petrol and OMV filling stations. Users can keep their existing number or pick a new one.

President Pirc Musar wins national bowling championship

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar, long an avid bowling player, won the national champion title in the doubles together with Viktorija Krivolucka, the pair having narrowly defeated Maja Debenec and Eva Kfafogel 342:338 in Sunday's final. "My leisure time is my pleasure, bowling in particular. I won the national title in the doubles together with my playing partner today. I'm super happy," the president wrote on Twitter.

Foods price watch project upgraded to online store comparisons

LJUBLJANA - The Agriculture Ministry upgraded its staple foods price watch project launched in September last year with a new web site and tool that expands the comparison possibilities to retailers' online stores and to over 17,000 food items. The portal combines both online and physical inventories. The online inventory will cover all data and food products in the Tuš, Spar, Mercator and Jager online stores, said Ana Le Marechal, the head of the Food and Fisheries Directorate.

Illegal tobacco plant disguised as farm discovered in Žalec

ŽALEC - The Financial Administration discovered an illegal tobacco production facility disguised as a farm in Žalec at the beginning of the month. Preliminary information shows at least 6.6 tonnes of tobacco has been produced there, meaning a million euro in taxes was evaded. Three electric devices for cutting tobacco leaves were confiscated at the site along with a machine for packing the fine-cut tobacco and nearly a ton of tobacco leaves and cut tobacco.

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