News roundup - Tuesday, 4 April

Ljubljana, 4 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 4 April:

RTV Slovenija journalists on strike

LJUBLJANA - Part of RTV Slovenija journalists went on strike to protest against a series of measures affecting their autonomy and independence. Strike committee members said that even after 19 meetings, the management did not or would not understand their strike demands, including for editorial autonomy and an end to intimidation. The strike committee also demands a deal on staffing policy, talks on raising the lowest wages, reintroduction of social dialogue and that the strike be paid. Acting TV Slovenija director Uroš Urbanija argued the situation had improved greatly since the first strike took place in May last year. "But there is still a lot to be done and we're doing it," he said.

National Council vetoes foreigners act

LJUBLJANA - The upper chamber of parliament vetoed the recently passed amendments to the Foreigners Act which introduce a transitional period for the requirement that adult family members of non-EU workers in Slovenia pass a basic Slovenian language proficiency test to be able to remain in the country after being here for a year. To override the veto, the National Assembly will have to muster 46 votes in the 90-member legislature. The bill was originally passed with 45 votes in favour as the Left joined the opposition parties in voting against.

Two health reform bills unveiled

LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry unveiled two bills that form the first part of the health reform package. The health IT system bill creates a new state-owned company to develop and maintain a centralised IT system. The bill on the ZZZS centres around an overhaul of the management structure of the public health insurer. Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan said the government was looking forward to the 30-day public consultation and is confident a broader consensus on the future of healthcare can be achieved.

Slovenia welcomes Finland's NATO accession

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob, President Nataša Pirc Musar and Foreign Minister welcomed Finland's accession to NATO. Golob and Fajon expressed the hope that Sweden will join the alliance soon as well. "The collective defence has grown even stronger today. I am confident that, strengthened, we will be even better able to limit the elements that cause personal and social vulnerability," President Pirc Musar tweeted. Slovenia has been a NATO member since 29 March 2004.

ITF marks 25th anniversary

LJUBLJANA - Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Slovenia's humanitarian organisation ITF Enhancing Human Security, President Nataša Pirc Musar called on the international community, especially ITF donors, to further step up humanitarian efforts and activities striving for an international system that would guarantee the rights to peace and security. Evolving from a regional organisation into a global humanitarian powerhouse, ITF is now active in 19 countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Iraq and Ukraine.

More police checks as illegal migration patterns change

PORTOROŽ - Talking at the close of the 11th informal meeting of Brdo Process interior ministers on migration management, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said that police on the Western Balkan migration route and in other European countries were efficiently preventing illegal migration and human smuggling, even if the numbers are increasing. He announced more police checks on roads as the manner in which migrants enter Slovenia illegally changed with Croatia's Schengen entry on 1 January.

Maj-Gen Glavaš says 6,000 SAF members doing doing job meant for 10,000

LJUBLJANA - The chief of the general staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF), Maj-Gen Robert Glavaš, highlighted pressing staffing shortages as he updated the press on the state of the SAF and its plans. He said that what are presently slightly over 6,000 members of the SAF are performing tasks intended for 10,000. Although short-handed, Glavaš said the army needs to perform all the tasks prescribed by law, echoing the grievances of trade unions about excessive workload.

Cross-party bid to simplify govt appointment

LJUBLJANA - The largest two parties of the ruling coalition and the smaller of the two opposition parties initiated a proposal to amend the constitution in order to transfer the power to appoint government members from parliament to the head of state on the proposal of the prime minister. The Freedom Movement, Social Democrats (SD) and New Slovenia (NSi) argue the changes would make the government appointment procedure more efficient. The Left and the Democrats do not support the proposal, which means it does not have the required two-thirds majority to pass.

Mayors from SE want legislative changes to address Roma issues

BREŽICE - Mayors from eleven municipalities with Roma communities in the southeast of the country announced they will start collecting 5,000 voter signatures to file to parliament changes to five laws they have drafted to improve the conditions in which Roma children are growing up and enhance the safety of local residents. The mayors sent the changes to parliament last autumn hoping one of the deputy groups would formally file them into parliamentary procedure, but this did not happen.

NGO to collect signatures to legalise assisted suicide

LJUBLJANA - Silver Thread, an association campaigning for dignified old age, will be collecting 5,000 signatures to submit a bill on assisted suicide to the National Assembly. The organisation requested a 6-month period to collect the signatures. It says the bill includes safeguards to prevent abuse. Among the parliamentary parties only the Left expressed its support for the proposal, with the other two ruling coalition parties calling for in-depth discussion on what they described as a sensitive issue.

Slovenian Marko Pisani elected to Friuli Venezia Giulia council

TRIESTE, Italy - Marko Pisani, a member of the Slovenian minority in Italy, has been elected to the Friuli Venezia Giulia Regional Council. His party, Slovenian Community, won 1.02% of the vote, just above the 1% threshold. Pisani, who received 986 preferential votes, the most in the minority's party, has served as regional councillor in the term that is now coming to a close, since he stepped in last year to take Igor Gabrovec's place as the latter was elected mayor of Duino-Aurisina.

Slovenian new alternate member of Carinthia state government

KLAGENFURT, Austria - The Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) appointed members to the government of the Austrian federal state of Carinthia on Monday. Most of the members are the same but Manuel Jug, a member of Slovenian minority, was named a new alternate member. The SPÖ will form a coalition with the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). Manuel Jug has led the Association of Slovenian Organisations (ZSO), an umbrella minority association in Carinthia, since 2019 and has advocated for preserving and strengthening the Slovenian language.

Ombudsman receives representatives of Serbian community

LJUBLJANA - Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina received representatives of the Serbian diaspora to discuss their efforts to become a constitutionally recognised minority. He proposed that the state adopt a strategy that would deal with their collective rights. The Serbian community officials said recognising their status would bring Slovenia into line with recommendations by the Council of Europe's advisory committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Air connectivity subsidy call published

LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Infrastructure published a call for bids under which airlines flying between Slovenia and several selected destinations will be eligible for subsidies. The scheme aims to boost Slovenia's passenger air connectivity after very slow post-Covid recovery. The deadline is 4 May. The government will earmark EUR 5.6 million a year for the next three years, or a total of EUR 16.8 million for the scheme, under which carriers would get subsidies covering 50% of airport fees at Slovenia's three international airports: Ljubljana, Maribor and Portorož.

Slovenia sees trade surplus as exports increase 28% y/y in February

LJUBLJANA - Exports reached EUR 4.55 billion in February, an increase of 28.2% on the same month the year before, while imports increased by 1.4% to 4.25 billion, the Statistics Office said. With a monthly trade surplus in February, EUR 304 million, the first in four months, the export to import ratio was at 107.2%. Slovenia had been reporting deficits for the past two years, caused by higher energy prices and drops in exports, as well as supply chain problems and a slow period for the automotive industry.

Selection of contractor for major motorway renovation project annulled

LJUBLJANA - The National Review Commission has annulled the national motorway company DARS's decision to award a public contract to renovate a nine-kilometre motorway section in the Štajerska region in the north-east between Dramlje and Slovenske Konjice to a consortium led by the construction company CGP. DARS's decision was challenged by two companies from a rival consortium, Pomgrad and Voc Celje, the commission said.

Pošta Slovenije reaches agreement with unions to avert strike

MARIBOR - Postal services operator Pošta Slovenije and the two representative trade unions in the company have reached an agreement averting a strike announced for 17 April. Details of the agreement have not been released, but the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija learnt the wage bill would increase by 15%. Postal workers announced the strike in late March, claiming the employer was unwilling to compromise and even expected the workers to give up their right to inflation salary adjustments.

Kompas Shop wants to take over Vipap paper mill

KRŠKO - Kompas Shop, the operator of what used to be duty-free shops at Slovenia's border crossings, has received regulatory approval to take over Vipap Videm Krško, the Competition Protection Agency said on Monday. Kompas is already the biggest owner of the country's largest paper producer. Kompas Shop owns a combined share of 54% in Vipap following a debt-to-equity conversion in December, of which 38% are held by its subsidiary Astra Invest. However, the second largest owner, the utility company Kostak, is challenging the conversion in court.

Hi-tech company to test 4-day work week

LJUBLJANA - Visionect, a Slovenian hi-tech company that develops electronic paper solutions and solutions for workplace management, has started this week a three-month testing period for a four-day work week in the engineering department. They will stay employed full-time and keep all the benefits. The company decided to take on the experiment after shorter work weeks became a trend abroad and research showed they reduce stress at work, said the head of development, Luka Napotnik.

Tagging of food couriers suspended, report says

LJUBLJANA - Tagging of Wolt and Glovo couriers in Ljubljana that started in mid-August last year has been brought to a halt pending a decision in a procedure launched against the two food delivery companies by the Information Commissioner, the newspaper Dnevnik reported. Since last week food couriers in the capital no longer have to wear identification numbers, a measure that was introduced to facilitate reporting their potential traffic violations amid the growing number of citizens' complaints.

Former economy minister and ambassador Tea Petrin dies

LJUBLJANA - Tea Petrin, a former economy minister and former ambassador to the Netherlands, has died at the age of 78. She served as economy minster from 2000 and 2004 and after that as Slovenia's ambassador to the Netherlands. Slovenian MEP and former speaker of parliament Milan Brglez has responded to the news by describing Petrin as "an extraordinary professor who served as minister in the most demanding period of Slovenia's path to the EU".

Pahor's Quatrelle raises EUR 275,000 more for charity

DRAVOGRAD - The Renault 4 that Slovenia's former President Borut Pahor auctioned off in February for EUR 60,000 has raised EUR 275,000 in donations in the second round of the charity campaign. The second round of the charity campaign was initiated by the Fratar family from Dravograd, Koroška, which bought Pahor's 1991 Quatrelle as the highest bidder in February. The campaign came to a close with an event in Dravograd as Pahor chose the new owner of the car by lot among almost 5,200 donors.

Ideology-exploring exhibition by Cibic opens in Zagreb

ZAGREB, Croatia - An exhibition by Slovenian performance, installation and film artist Jasmina Cibic was launched at the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art. The Dreams We Call Our Own exhibit is the final chapter of a longer project Cibic has been working on with a number of institutions around the world, institutions she says "always linked to a kind of instrumentalisation of culture, which has to create a scenography for society in the moment of some transnational ideas".

Vžigalica pays homage to industrial town of Jesenice

LJUBLJANA - Personal takes by various artists on Jesenice, attempting to transcend the stereotypical image of this steelworks and ice hockey town in north-western Slovenia, feature at an exhibition at the Vžigalica Gallery in Ljubljana. Running until 7 May, the exhibition will present Jesnice as captured by photographer Jaka Glasar, painter, graphic designer and set designer Miran Mohar from the acclaimed Irwin art collective, painters Ema Klinar and Helena Tahir, and designer and visual artist Tanja Radež.

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