News roundup - Wednesday, 22 February

Ljubljana, 22 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 22 February:

Golob and Bettel call for walls-free Europe

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Prime Minister 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. This complex problem will definitely be on the agenda of this year's sessions of EU leaders," Golob said. Even though some countries or their leaders advocate such an approach, building walls on borders is not a solution, Bettel added. The pair also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans, bilateral relations and Slovenia's cooperation with Benelux. Bettel also met today with National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič and President Nataša Pirc Musar.

Nurses demand elimination of pay injustices

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 are not willing to wait until the public sector pay system is reformed for the situation to improve. Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan spoke to the press after today's round of talks on a new pay tier for healthcare, which were also attended by Mencinger. He said the issues the union is highlighting will be addressed as part of these talks while he admitted protest is a legitimate right of all trade unions.

Police file criminal complaints in Melamin blast case, reportedly also against CEO

KOČEVJE - Police have completed their investigation and filed criminal complaints against four persons and one legal entity after the May 2022 accident at chemical company Melamin in Kočevje, which left seven workers dead and ten injured. The investigation into the deadliest industrial accident in Slovenia's recent history found that the blast and subsequent fire at Melamin were caused by a chemical substance which had been transported by truck to the factory being pumped into the wrong tank. Unofficially, Melamin CEO Srečko Štefanič is among those likely to face trial as well.

Stricter criteria planned for foreign direct investments

LJUBLJANA - The government is planning stricter criteria for subsidising foreign direct investments according to draft amendments to the investment promotion act. The draft will now be the subject of public consultation until 23 March. Under the proposed amendments, conditions for subsidising foreign direct investments may include prohibition of the sale of copyrights owned of the target company to third-country parties or of certain assets acquired through the investment. A ban on the sale of a certain share in the target company would also be possible.

Parliamentary inquiry of political influence on police launched

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. The aim of the investigation is to find whether the members of both the Janez Janša and the Robert Golob governments meddled in specific police procedures or wanted to prevent the police from doing their job or hinder their work.

Slovenia still not fully compliant with European Social Charter

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A report by the European Committee of Social Rights, which monitors compliance with the European Social Charter, shows Slovenia has made headway in narrowing the gender pay gap, but there has been no progress in access to efficient legal means regarding pay discrimination and there are still some issues with pay transparency and job comparison.

Business sentiment down again in February

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's business sentiment dropped again slightly in February, with the relevant index down in both monthly and annual comparisons, by 0.2 and 7.7 percentage points, respectively, to -1.1 percentage points, fresh data from the Statistics Office show, with manufacturing taking the biggest hit. The confidence index in manufacturing was down by 0.8 points compared to January, while retail and construction both saw a 0.1 point decrease. The relevant index rose the most in services (+0.5) and among consumers (+0.3).

Mik opening new development and production centre

VOJNIK - Window and door producer Mik Celje will inaugurate a new development and production centre focussing on quality living in the town of Vojnik, east, in September. The EUR 21 million investment will create more than 100 jobs to provide innovative ecosystems for researchers, the company's director Franci Pliberšek told the press. The Peter Novak Development Institute will provide offices for young companies and startups to develop and implement their ideas under the wing of a number of experts.

Slovenia records biggest road fatalities drop in EU in 2022

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Road accidents in the EU claimed around 20,600 lives last year, up by 3% on 2021, while Slovenia recorded the biggest year-on-year drop with road deaths decreasing by 25%, show preliminary data published by the European Commission. Compared to the pre-pandemic 2019, the number of road deaths in 2022 dropped by some 10% or 2,000 people, with Slovenia recording 40 fatalities per one million inhabitants, down 17% compared to 2019 and 6 below the EU average.

Slovenia exported more than 20% more waste in 2022

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia exported significantly more waste last year or more than 20% more than in 2021, with plastic and metal waste, and refuse-derived fuel accounting for the majority of the exported waste, shows a report by the Environment and Spatial Planning Inspectorate.

Slovenia's Laibach first foreign band to play in Kyiv since invasion

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian avant-garde music group Laibach, who held a concert in North Korea in 2015 to become the first Western band to perform there, will become the first foreign band to perform in Kyiv following the Russian invasion. The concert will ne held on 31 March in the Bel Etage Music Hall and be entitled Eurovision. The Guardian writes that the title refers to the victory of Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. Laibach said it was "taking Eurovision back to Ukraine, where it belongs".

Karmina Šilec's new opera to premiere in US

SAN FRANCISCO, US - An opera by Slovenian composer Karmina Šilec inspired by sworn virgins from the Balkans will premiere in the US this week. BABA: The Life and Death of Stana will be performed at Z Space in San Francisco from Thursday to Sunday by Kitka, a women's vocal ensemble from California which draws on traditional folk vocal techniques.

Slovenian minority's culture celebrated in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Carinthian Culture Days, the annual festival celebrating the arts, culture and heritage of the Slovenian minority in Austria, are kicking off in Ljubljana today. The festival, running until 18 April, will open with a book presentation and a film screening, both telling the story of a Carinthian Slovenian family during WWII. The book Mother's Voice by Helga Mračnikar recounts the story of Helga's mother and her childhood during the war.

Wife murderer sentenced to 23 years in jail

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana District Court sentenced banker Žarko Gorenjc to 23 years in prison for the murder of his 36-year-old wife. The murder took place in the couple's home near Grosuplje in March 2021. The accused committed it in front of their daughter and turned himself in a few hours later, accompanied by his father. The perpetrator, now aged 46, viewed the victim as an object and exhibited controlling behaviour over her, said judge Bernard Tajnšek. The judgement is not yet final and both sides plan to appeal.

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