Weekly review of events involving Slovenia, 17-23 February

Ljubljana, 24 February - Below is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia from 17 to 23 February:

FRIDAY, 17 February
        VRHNIKA - One person died and two were seriously injured in an explosion that occurred at a gunpowder facility of fireworks manufacturer Hamex in Vrhnika, south-west of Ljubljana. The cause of the blast is yet to be determined.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - PM Robert Golob hosted his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez. The pair discussed the importance of the EU's strategic autonomy, economic competitiveness and reform of the European energy market. Only through a globally strong and competitive economy can Europe maintain its status of a continent of prosperity, Golob said.
        LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar confirmed reports that she would appoint former Police Commissioner and former Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar her advisor, while Nataša Dolenc remains her national security advisor.
        MUNICH, Germany - President Nataša Pirc Musar took part in a debate on a safe digital environment and cybersecurity on the first day of the Munich Security Conference. She stressed the importance of proper regulation of the digital environment saying that the digital services act was the first such regulation in the world that respected European values.
        TRIESTE, Italy - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon met Friuli Venezia Giulia President Massimiliano Fedriga to discuss minority representation and changes to the Italian region's statute. They agreed the region's statute, which was put in place 60 years ago, should be updated to give appropriate status to the minorities living there.
        LJUBLJANA - The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which was a member of nine Slovenian governments until 2020 but then failed to make it to parliament in the last election, rejected an offer to merge with the ruling Freedom Movement. However, it is willing to cooperate with the party on issues concerning pensioners.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian film Ena za Reko: Zgodba Save (One for the River: The Sava Story) is the winner of the 17th Mountain Film Festival. Directed by Rožle Bregar, the film impressed the jury with its cinematography and environmental message.

SATURDAY, 18 February
        LJUBLJANA - The government nominated several new ambassadors, among them experienced career diplomat Iztok Mirošič to the US and security expert Andrej Benedejčič to NATO, the news portal N1 reported. Franci But is to become ambassador to the Vatican and Robert Kokalj is going to Romania.
        MUNICH, Germany - President Nataša Pirc Musar promised Slovenia would continue supporting Kosovo's efforts to join the EU, and discussed cyber attacks, as she met her counterparts from Kosovo and Moldova, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu and Maia Sandu.
        MUNICH, Germany - Foreign Affairs Minister Tanja Fajon attended a meeting of an informal group of women foreign ministers on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, signing a joint statement condemning the violations of women's rights in Afghanistan and Iran.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Labour, the Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities is working on two pension reform models, Minister Luka Mesec told the newspaper Delo. One option is to overhaul the existing system and the other a completely new system based on universal basic income for pensioners.
        MARIBOR - The Democrats (SDS), the largest opposition party, absorbed the New People's Party (NLS) of former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler in a move that SDS leader Janez Janša described as a "merger of Slovenian democratic people's patriotic forces".

SUNDAY, 19 February
        SEVILLE, Spain - Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) secured overall victory at the Vuelta a Andalucia, his first stage race victory of the 2023 season and the 12th of his career. Having won three of the five stages, the Slovenian finished in the peloton on the final stage.
        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.

MONDAY, 20 February
        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.
        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 March.
        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 senior managers. The decision means that procedures for the appointment of the new governing council and management can proceed, but the appointments will not take effect until the court has reached a final decision on the matter.
        LJUBLJANA - The Chief of the General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, Maj-Gen Robert Glavaš met 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. They agreed that development and modernisation of the NATO members' armed forces are key for security of the Euro-Atlantic area.
        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 the plenary session ahead of the 31st anniversary of the erasure of over 25,000 permanent residents descending from other parts ex-Yugoslavia.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia got its first digital mobile operator as Austrian telecommunication group A1 launched re:do. 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.
TUESDAY, 21 February
        LJUBLJANA - Boštjan Poklukar was appointed interior minister in a 54:31 vote in parliament to return to the post he held in 2018-2020. Presenting the candidates to MPs, PM Robert Golob said Poklukar's priorities will be fighting corruption, managing migrations and depoliticising the police.
        BERN, Switzerland - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon visited Bern, underlining that Slovenia and Switzerland were like-minded and small but ambitious Alpine countries. She discussed ways to strengthen economic cooperation and political dialogue with her counterpart Ignazio Cassis.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) deputy group tabled a parliamentary resolution to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism after the European Parliament passed a similar resolution in November. The party drafted the resolution because the government had not, SDS leader Janez Janša said.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia might have to wait until April to receive the first round of funds from the EU's recovery and resilience facility, the STA learnt from a source in Brussels a week after Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič said the country can expect to receive the first funds by the end of March.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia issued EUR 200 million worth of bonds, as it carried out an additional issue of its RS85 bond, due in October 2050 with a coupon interest rate of 0.4875%. The total nominal value of the RS85 bond has increased to about EUR 1.85 billion.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the public procurement act, putting into law a Constitutional Court decision that abolished a corrective mechanism allowing termination of contracts due to labour rights violations, and introducing provisions to increase transparency and the competitive edge of public procurement procedures.
        BERLIN, Germany - In a report on the rule of law in 18 EU member states, the Civil Liberties Union for Europe, an NGO, found that Slovenian democracy is recovering well after a change in government last year. The report mentions Slovenia as a country with "stand-out positive development".
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Milan Zver, an MEP for the opposition Democrats (SDS) and the European People's Party (EPP), proposed in the wake of the Constitutional Court's decision to stay key provisions of the amended law on public broadcaster RTV Slovenija a debate in the European Parliament on the state of the media in Slovenia.
        ROME, Italy - The Jesuit order has decided to prohibit Slovenian priest Marko Rupnik from pursuing his artistic activity after 15 more people, women and men, came forward with fresh accusations against him of spiritual, sexual and psychological abuse. Johan Verschueren, Rupnik's superior, said the allegations were "very credible".
        LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana University Incubator (LUI) joined DeepTech Alliance (DTA), which connects the best European deep tech startups helping them access specialised programmes, corporations and investors and assisting them in their efforts to enter global markets. LUI is the first organisation from the broader region to join DTA.

WEDNESDAY, 22 February
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - PM Robert Golob and his Luxembourgian counterpart Xavier Bettel called on the EU to look for common solutions to migrations as they addressed reporters after their meeting. "The key is how Europe as a whole addresses this issue and the first steps have been taken," Golob said.
        WASHINGTON, US - Foreign policy representatives of the US and Slovenia conducted the third strategic dialogue session. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Samuel Žbogar said the main topics included Western Balkans, Ukraine, China, cooperation in NATO, cybersecurity, the fight against disinformation, and climate change.
        NEW YORK, US - On the first day of the UN General Assembly session on the war in Ukraine, Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon noted the need to respect the principles of the Charter of the United Nations that stipulates peaceful resolution of conflicts without the use of force, except for self-defence.
        LJUBLJANA - The Trade Union of Healthcare Workers staged a rally to demand elimination of pay injustices and equal treatment of all public sector groups. Urging immediate action, its president Slavica Mencinger said they were not willing to wait until the public sector pay system is reformed for the situation to improve.
        KOČEVJE - Police have completed their investigation and filed criminal complaints against four persons and one company after the May 2022 accident at chemical company Melamin in Kočevje, which left seven workers dead and ten injured. Unofficially, Melamin CEO Srečko Štefanič is among those likely to face trial.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament initiated an inquiry to investigate suspected political influence by office holders on the police and other independent state bodies. The inquiry, requested by the ruling Freedom Movement, will cover the terms of the previous and current government up to now.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian avant-garde music group Laibach announced they would become the first foreign band to perform in Kyiv following the Russian invasion. The concert, entitled Eurovision, will be held on 31 March in the Bel Etage Music Hall.
THURSDAY, 23 February
        LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav and appointed Senad Jušić to replace him. Jušić is a senior police adviser at the General Police Department and also served as deputy head of the Koper Police Department's criminal police sector.
        NEW YORK, US - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon continues her visit to New York to commemorate the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. After addressing the 11th session of the UN General Assembly on the subject, she continued to lobby for Slovenia's candidacy for the UN Security Council, counting on a good result.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a resolution that sets out a plan for the development of the Slovenian Armed Forces by 2040 under which Slovenia is to spend 2% of GDP on defence by 2030, five years earlier than the current deadline.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted bills on alternative fuels infrastructure and on the positioning of renewable electricity generation facilities, which Environment, Climate and Energy Minister Bojan Kumer said were two cornerstones of the Recovery and Resilience Plan and were aimed at speeding up the green transition.
        LJUBLJANA - The government issued a regulation to compensate energy-intensive companies for indirect costs of greenhouse gas emissions, after the European Commission gave Slovenia's EUR 99.15 million compensation scheme the go-ahead last week.
        LJUBLJANA - The war in Ukraine is a defeat for human society and a manifestation of the inability to resolve disputes peacefully, which is one of the fundamental principles of international law, President Nataša Pirc Musar said at an event at the Presidential Palace on the eve of the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian MEP Matjaž Nemec (S&D/SD) will chair the European Parliament delegation for relations with Maghreb countries starting in March. Nemec said improving relations with Morocco would be one of the delegation's priorities.
        LJUBLJANA - The group around the Ljubljana-based bank NLB posted a net profit of EUR 447 million last year, 89% more than in 2021. The bank noted in the report released today that the acquisition of N Banka, previously the Russian Sberbank, last March had significantly contributed to the record bottom line.
        KOPER - Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's sole maritime port, posted all-time high sales, profit and cargo throughput last year. Net sales revenue was up by 37% to EUR 313.5 million and net profit more than doubled (+133%) to EUR 74.2 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Former Constitutional Court judge Ciril Ribičič said that the Constitutional Court had created a "legal uncertainty" at RTV Slovenija as it allowed the appointment of a new governing council at the public broadcaster to continue, while the terms of the incumbent programme council and the supervisory board have in effect terminated.
        IDRIJA - The industrial conglomerate Kolektor and consortium partners Domel, a maker of electric engines for appliances, IT company Špica International, and computer and industrial engineering company Audax presented their EUR 6.65 million business digitalisation project Jump, which will receive EUR 2.2 million through the recovery and resilience plan.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to reduce the impact of the annual increase in the minimum wage on households' creditworthiness after the latest increase rendered much of the population ineligible for a mortgage. As the minimum wage rose from EUR 1,074 to EUR 1,203 gross or from EUR 778 to EUR 878 net in January, this impacted the creditworthiness of borrowers whose earnings range from minimum to average.

© STA, 2023