News roundup - Tuesday, 11 April

Ljubljana, 11 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 11 April:

IMF downgrades Slovenia's 2023 growth forecast to 1.6%

WASHINGTON, US - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its projections for global economic growth in its latest World Economic Outlook, including Slovenia's. The country's GDP is projected to increase by 1.6% this year, a downgrade of 0.2 percentage points from the autumn forecast, and by 2.1% in 2024. The inflation outlook for this year is also looking grimmer than last autumn, as the IMF's projection of Slovenia's inflation in 2023 is now expected to run at 6.4%, up from 5.1%. The average inflation rate is projected to drop to 4.5% in 2024. The situation in Slovenia's labour market is expected to remain stable.

Interior minister to discuss migration with Italian counterpart

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar will discuss migration with his Italian counterpart Matteo Piantedosi during his trip to Rome on Thursday, the Interior Ministry told the STA after Traffic and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini threatened Slovenia with border checks, and the country declared a state of emergency. Italy declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for the country's entire territory for a period of six months, citing an increase in the number of migrants arriving across the Mediterranean.

Slovenia deems another extension of border checks by Austria unacceptable

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Foreign Ministry labelled as unacceptable Austria's decision to extend by yet another six months border checks along the countries' shared border. "This act is unacceptable, which is something Slovenia has been pointing out to Austria and the relevant institutions for a long time," the ministry said. The response comes after the European Commission said earlier today that internal border checks were an extraordinary measure, and strictly limited in duration. Austria first introduced border checks at the height of the migration crisis in 2015.

Defence Minister Šarec visiting Brazil and Argentina

BRASILIA, Brazil/BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec is paying an official visit to Brazil and Argentina until Saturday to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation. He will meet his Brazilian and Argentinean counterparts José Múcio Monteiro and Jorge Taiana, respectively, as well as representatives of other countries from Latin America as he seeks support for Slovenia's UN Security Council bid, the Defence Ministry said in a press release.

Roto Slovenija acquires Canadian kayak maker

PUCONCI - Plastic products maker Roto Slovenija has acquired the Canadian kayak maker Delsyk Kayak in a deal that includes the trademark and production, making Roto Slovenija the company with the biggest range of kayaks and canoes in the world, the company said. Roto Slovenija, based in the north-east of the country, will continue to uphold the 40-year tradition of Delsyk Kayak. This Canadian pioneer of polyethylene sea kayaks was founded by the late Mike Neckar, one of the most creative kayak designers in the world, according to Roto. His kayaks were used in some historic trips, like the only trip from California to Hawaii.

Battery maker Tab sets up subsidiary in Benelux

MEŽICA - Tab, the Mežica-based maker of starter batteries, has acquired a 51% stake in the Dutch battery wholesaler R&W Batterijen to establish its new subsidiary TAB Benelux. The move is aimed at consolidating Tab's position in the Benelux region and Europe as whole, the Slovenian company said. The acquisition, which was completed last Thursday, marks the beginning of a new era of fruitful cooperation between Tab and R&W Batterijen, which have been cooperating for nearly 20 years, said Tab chairman Bogomir Auprih.

SDS slightly ahead of PM Golob's Freedom in Delo's poll

LJUBLJANA - The latest opinion poll published by the newspaper Delo shows that the ruling Freedom Movement party keeps losing support while the opposition Democratic Party (SDS) keeps gaining it. They are now practically neck-and-neck at around 23% - the SDS enjoys the support of 23.3% of those polled and the Freedom Movement of 23%. A negative or very negative perception of the government's performance increased by almost 10 points - from 35.6% to 45% over the past month. Anže Logar, an SDS MP and former foreign minister, shares the top of the list of the most popular politicians with President Nataša Pirc Musar.

Govt urged to back free access to procedures related to reproductive rights

LJUBLJANA - The 8 March Institute called on the government to help secure universal free access to procedures related to reproductive rights, including abortion, artificial insemination and sterilisation. Presently, those without top-up health insurance have to cover part of the costs themselves. The NGO addressed the press together with representatives of the public health insurer ZZZS, whose assembly has already backed the initiative almost unanimously, making health services securing basic reproductive rights part of basic compulsory health insurance, however pending a nod by the government.

Roma community still neglected, president says

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar said after a consultation on the Roma that this community is still neglected and cannot access basic human rights such as potable water, education, social care and healthcare. Among the most pressing issues for the Roma community is limited access to drinking water, which is a basic human need, said the president, adding that because of poor sanitation infrastructure children cannot wash themselves properly and are bullied in school as a result. Representatives of the Roma community were critical that the same discussion has been going on for 30 years.

Two men from Kosovo get six years in prison for rape

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana District Court has sentenced two citizens of Kosovo to six years in prison for raping a woman in a park in Ljubljana last March, the newspaper Večer reported. They will also be banished from the country for five years after serving their prison sentences. The ruling is not final yet. The crime was reported by security guards at a ministry and a bank near the park who in the early hours of that day detected suspicious behaviour on CCTV cameras as a woman was dragged into the bushes by three men. Evidence corroborates that two of them then proceeded to rape her.

Industrial output down in February

LJUBLJANA - Industrial output in Slovenia was down by 3.7% in February compared to January. The largest drop was recorded in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, where output declined by 21.3%. Industrial output increased only in capital goods, where it grew by 3%, the Statistics Office reported. Industrial output dropped by 3.5% in mining and quarrying and by 2.3% in manufacturing. It decreased by 1.4% in intermediate goods and by 0.6% in consumer goods.

Sculptor Drago Tršar dies

LJUBLJANA - Acclaimed modernist sculptor Drago Tršar has died shortly before his 96th birthday, the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts and Design (ALUO) announced. The professor emeritus, and "his dedication to the art of sculpture and the teaching profession, and his diverse oeuvre will remain a lasting memory," it said. Tršar received a number of awards, including the Prešeren Prize for lifetime achievements, the top art accolade in the country, in 1990, and the Jakopič Prize for fine and visual arts in 1972.

Issue of overcrowded closed wards of psychiatric facilities to be tackled

LJUBLJANA - The ministries responsible for the field committed as part a meeting at the Supreme Court to immediately start addressing the continuing acute shortage of space and staff at the closed wards of long-stay psychiatric facilities in the country. The meeting was initiated by the court as the latest in a string of efforts and decisions by the judiciary that began in 2016. Government representative agreed that the acute issue needed to be solved and committed to introducing concrete measures.

Children's Parliament calls for tackling of deteriorating mental health situation

LJUBLJANA - Addressing mental health in children and youths, the annual Children's Parliament event called for more education and awareness-raising about the topic among children, teachers and parents. Parliament, which hosted primary school pupils debating key issues for the 33rd time, heard the children point to the deteriorated mental health situation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The debate was also attended by Prime Minister Robert Golob, who joined calls for destigmatising mental health problems.

Petrol price up, diesel down slightly outside motorways

LJUBLJANA - Prices of petrol sold outside the motorway network will increase by over four euro cents a litre on Wednesday morning, while the price of diesel fuel will drop by nearly a cent, the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy said. Regular petrol will be 4.2 cents dearer at EUR 1.416 a litre, while diesel will go down 0.8 cents to EUR 1.441. The price of heating oil will decrease by a cent to EUR 1.033 a litre. The prices will remain in effect until 24 April.

Police bees fly out to gather nectar in Maribor park

MARIBOR - The first Slovenian police bees flew out to gather nectar and pollen in the Maribor City Park after the rooftop of the nearby city's police headquarters provided a new home to four bee colonies. "Bees are not only a common sight in village meadows, they are also welcome in cities, making their home on the roofs, terraces, balconies and gardens of public and private buildings," the Maribor Police Department said, which inaugurated the beehive in a move that honours the long beekeeping tradition in the area.

© STA, 2023