News roundup - Thursday, 23 February

Ljubljana, 23 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 23 February:

Senad Jušić appointed acting police commissioner

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. Lindav led the police in acting capacity since the new government took power in June 2022, as Minister Tatjana Bobnar's proposal for his full-fledged appointment fell through. The new interior minister, Boštjan Poklukar, said after the government session he wanted to have in his team a police chief who knew the situation on the ground.

US-Slovenia strategic dialogue focuses on intl. issues, Security Council bid

WASHINGTON, US - Foreign policy representatives of the United States and Slovenia conducted the third strategic dialogue session on Wednesday. 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. Slovenia's UN Security Council bid was also discussed. "This is the first time the dialogue was held at a higher level. Our views are more or less aligned," Žbogar said. Regarding China, Žbogar acknowledged Slovenia has different relations with the country than the US since it wanted to have good relations with all countries.

Minister promoting Slovenia's UN bid in New York, upbeat about the vote

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. "The energy is good, the team is working well, I am counting on a good result", she said about the elections to be held on 6 June.

Govt adopts plan to meet defence expenditure target earlier

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a resolution that sets out a plan for the development of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) by 2040 under which Slovenia is to spend 2% of GDP on defence by 2030, five years earlier than the current deadline. The current resolution, covering the period until 2035, was passed by the National Assembly a year ago. However, the government says that the circumstances have since changed, hence more ambitious plans for the country's defence capabilities.

Govt adopts systemic bills on alternative fuels and renewables infrastructure

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. Kumer said the state must set up a network of high-power electric charging stations on the TNT network and also in urban hubs, establish hydrogen refuelling points, provide electricity for ships at the berths of the port of Koper, while airports will have to provide electricity for stationary aircraft and all the accompanying infrastructure.

Govt to compensate companies for indirect emission costs

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. The press release issued after the government session estimated the number of potential beneficiaries at between ten and 25. Hailing the regulation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said 19 companies would benefit from the compensation.

Fajon notes need to respect UN Charter in war in Ukraine

NEW YORK, US - On the first day of the UN General Assembly session on the war in Ukraine in New York on Wednesday, 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. The session is expected to vote on Thursday on a proposed resolution that notes the need to conclude a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the principles of the UN Charter. Fajon expressed strong support for the resolution.

Pirc Musar: War in Ukraine is defeat of human society

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. Ukrainian Ambassador to Slovenia Andriy Taran addressed the event, and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska delivered a video address, thanking Slovenia for all its aid and support.

Govt adopts contingency plan in case of migrant influx

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted on a contingency plan for providing accommodation and care to asylum seekers in case their numbers increased. It also extended for another year the project of providing accommodation to orphans from Ukraine in Postojna. According to the Government Communication Office, the contingency plan specifies activities in case of a sudden or gradual increase in the number of asylum seekers. It lays out scenarios and goals, the necessary measures, bodies that will be in charge and sets up all response systems in case of an emergency.

Slovenian MEP to chair EU Parliament delegation for relations with Maghreb

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. Nemec is taking over after the previous chair Italian Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), suspected of involvement in the Qatargate scandal, stepped down in January. He will be the first Slovenian to chair such a large Parliament delegation.

Jurist says court's decision on RTV law creates legal uncertainty

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. Responding to the situation after today's government session, Culture Minister Asta Vrečko said she hoped the court will promptly reach its final decision. She said the ministry was working on a solution too.

NLB group posts record net profit of EUR 447m for 2022

LJUBLJANA - The group around the Ljubljana-based NLB bank posted a net profit of EUR 447 million last year, which is 89% more than in the year before. 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. The contribution from N Banka excluded, net profit at the group level was up by 11% to EUR 262.8 million, NLB said. Net interest income increased by 23% to EUR 504.9 million, with net non-interest income reaching EUR 293.6 million, an increase of 14%.

Luka Koper reports record 2022 sales and profit

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. Higher net sales revenue positively affected operating profit (EBIT), which rose by 165% from 2021 to EUR 83.1 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was up by 87% to EUR 114.6 million.

Kolektor and partners working on EUR 6.7m digital transformation project

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. The project, which will receive EUR 2.2 million through the recovery and resilience plan as part of a digital business transformation programme, aims to establish advanced level monitoring, data management and exchange, process automation and decision-making support.

Creditworthiness to be depegged from minimum wage

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. Speaking after the government session, Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič noted that 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.

Obligation to give out receipts reintroduced

LJUBLJANA - MPs passed a government-sponsored proposal to reintroduce a rule under which retail businesses are obliged to give out a receipt for goods or services provided and customers are required to accept it. While the opposition sees this as unnecessary red tape, the coalition said this would reduce grey economy. The changes come after businesses have been obliged for more than a year now to give the customer the receipt in paper form only if the customer requested this.

Funds allocated to improve water supply on the coast

LJUBLJANA - The government has earmarked EUR 1.3 million for short-term measures to improve the supply of drinking water on the coast, which was plagued by a severe drought last year that required shipments of water from inland sources for several weeks in the summer. The funding, available in 2023 and 2024, will "significantly improve the supply of drinking water this summer," said Aleš Brežan, the minister of natural resources.

Pahor recovering well from prostate surgery

LJUBLJANA - After years of battling prostate problems, former President Borut Pahor is recovering well from a prostate surgery he underwent at the Celje General Hospital on Wednesday. He thanked the hospital staff and head of the Urology Department Sandi Poteka in a Facebook post. "On top of everything, nurse Metka and the others are super nice. I think we do not appreciate this enough. I feel good and in safe hands," Pahor wrote and posted a picture of himself with a thumbs-up.

Exhibitions bring stories of Ukrainian refugees, children

LJUBLJANA - Two exhibitions on the war in Ukraine open at the Museum of Contemporary History in Ljubljana today, bringing stories of Ukrainians who took refuge in Slovenia and Slovenians who helped them, and drawings by Ukrainian children combined with drawings from the Second World War. The first exhibition presents the personal effects of the refugees, the second drawings by children that are contrasted with drawings made by children during WWII.

Documentary presents story of rescuing young Ukrainian musicians

LJUBLJANA - A new documentary by public broadcaster RTV Slovenija follows the story of young Ukrainian musicians fleeing the war in their country and seeking refuge in Slovenia. Titled Music For The Future, it shows the difficulties young musicians had to face in the wake of the war, finding some solace in creating music. The documentary will premiere on 28 February on the TV Slovenija 1 channel.

© STA, 2023