News roundup - Friday, 24 February

Ljubljana, 24 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 24 February:

Golob, Fajon pledge continued support for Ukraine year after Russian invasion

LJUBLJANA - On the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon pledged continued support for Ukraine for "as long as necessary". They said Slovenia would make an effort to ensure a just and lasting peace in the war-stricken country and that it is bound to offer aid by the UN Charter. Golob said Slovenia and its allies were committed to resolving the conflict peacefully, but the call for an immediate end to the war could only be addressed to Moscow. Fajon finds it inadmissible that civilians are killed every single day and civilian infrastructure is being targetted.

Slovenia to send soldiers to UNMIK mission in Kosovo

LJUBLJANA - The government decided that Slovenia could contribute up to five soldiers to UNMIK, the UN's peace mission in Kosovo, while it has currently two police officers in UNMIK's police component. The Defence Ministry told the STA that, based on the government decision, the country will fill an important post of chief military liaison officer in UNMIK for an initial period of one year, expectedly in March. The development comes as Slovenia bids for a 2024-2025 non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council while stability in the Western Balkans is in its national interest.

New chief says police in good shape

LJUBLJANA - Senad Jušić assumed the office of acting police commissioner today after the government appointed him yesterday and dismissed his predecessor Boštjan Lindav. In his first statement, Jušić said he was a career policeman and had taken the job with full responsibility, while describing himself as a man of dialogue. He said the police is in good shape, and its current priorities are directed towards getting adjusted to Croatia's Schengen entry in terms of organisation and staff, and towards implementing guidelines about the priority treatment of acts of corruption issued by new Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar after he was appointed on Tuesday.

Rally for Ukraine in centre of Ljubljana marks 1st anniversary of war

LJUBLJANA - Several hundred Ukrainians and sympathisers gathered in Congress Square in support of Ukraine on the first anniversary of the the Russian invasion, as the victims of war were remembered with a minute of silence. Defence Minister Marjan Šarec said in his address Slovenia remains committed to supporting Ukraine while it supports all sincere efforts for a just peace. Ukrainian Ambassador to Slovenia Andriy Taran thanked Slovenia for its assistance over the past year. A small rally meanwhile took place in Prešeren Square with calls to end the policy of arming Ukraine and criticism directed against NATO, the US, the EU, and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon.

Auditors report SDS to police over suspected forgery of election campaign documents

LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit found problems with reporting by four parties as it reviewed the financing of the 2022 general election campaign. It reported the Democrats (SDS) to the police over suspected forgery of documents since the party put forward fake documents as proof of some of the free services it had received and the auditors found several cases where the SDS had used a special campaign bank account to pay for services for which it was not possible to confirm whether they had been performed. Responding, the SDS attributed the main irregularity to an uninformed individual.

Minister talks digital platform regulation at UNESCO conference

PARIS, France - Minister for Digital Transformation Emilija Stojmenova Duh took part in the two-day Internet for Trust UNESCO conference, speaking at a panel debate on the technical challenges of regulation of digital platforms based on human rights. She said that digital platforms should disclose information about why algorithms recommend certain content to users and whether they use algorithms to moderate and possibly delete content. On the sidelines of the conference, Stojmenova Duh attended several bilateral meetings with UNESCO representatives.

Arčon for cross-border cooperation of Slovenian, Italian minorities

LJUBLJANA - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon hosted a meeting with the representatives of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy and the Italian ethnic minority in Slovenia to find synergies that will unite the two communities. He announced that an agreement on cross-border cooperation will be reached in the future. He pointed out the 2025 European Capital of Culture project alongside business projects and tourism development projects as possible areas of cooperation. "The meeting, which I've termed a synergies-seeking meeting, agreed to identify projects that will unite us," Arčon said.

NGOs call on state to rectify injustices suffered by the erased

LJUBLJANA - Amnesty International Slovenije and the Peace Institute called on the government to immediately pass legislation that would redress injustices suffered by the erased. There should be no time limits and the legislation must give everyone access to social rights and healthcare, the organisations said as they opened a photo exhibition in the centre of Ljubljana marking the 31st anniversary of the erasure. While a law compensating the erased was passed in the 2000s, many have nevertheless been unable to regain permanent residence, they said.

Energy poverty rate in Slovenia up to 7.2% last year

LJUBLJANA - There were around 62,000 or 7.2% of households in Slovenia that met the criteria for energy poverty in 2022, 0.7 percentage points up on the year before. Some 102,000 people lived in such energy-deprived households, shows data from the Statistics Office. In 2014-2022, the share of households that meet the criteria for energy poverty dropped by 26,000 or roughly a third. Last year the share of such households was the largest among one-person households at 15.1%.

Covid-19 advisory group disbanded

LJUBLJANA - The Covid-19 advisory group, which operated as part of the National Institute of Public Health, has been disbanded since the disease is manageable with existing measures, the group's former head Mario Fafangel announced. He said that the state of the epidemic is stable and the situation related to Covid-19 manageable. Existing epidemic recommendations remain in place and the situation is being monitored by epidemiologists. "We can no longer say that this matter is unexpected at a global level," he said.

Piran public utility CEO faces charges for abuse of office

PORTOROŽ - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has concluded an investigation into the lease of 2,100 sq metres of the central beach in Portorož, with Gašpar Gašpar Mišič, the director of public utility Okolje Piran, suspected of abuse of office to the benefit of Hotel Palace, indirectly owned by Serbian entrepreneur Miodrag Kostić. Investigators found that at Gašpar Mišič's request, the lease price was set at below market rate, whereby Hotel Palace was informed of rival bids so it could adjust its bid, Delo reported.

Higher court confirms sentence to triple murderer Drevenšek

MARIBOR - The Maribor Higher Court has rejected an appeal against a 30-year prison sentence for a man who murdered his estranged spouse and her parents in front of his four-year-old son on Christmas Day 2020, media report. Večer said that the court rejected as unfounded the appeal of both the prosecution, which demanded life in prison, and the defence, which demanded a lower sentence. The 30-year prison sentence was fully confirmed. Slovenian courts have handed down about twenty 30-year sentences since 1998.

University of Nova Gorica spearheads major machine learning project

NOVA GORICA - The University of Nova Gorica has won EU funds for a five-year machine learning project called SMASH, as part of which 50 post-doctoral researchers will get fellowships to develop cutting-edge machine learning applications for science and humanities. The project, which kicks off in July, is worth EUR 10 million, of which the EU will contribute EUR 5 million under the Horizon Europe Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation the remaining EUR 5 million. This is the first COFUND-type project led by a Slovenian institution.

© STA, 2023