News roundup - Wednesday, 12 April

Ljubljana, 12 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 12 April:

Top-up health insurance to be replaced by mandatory contribution

LJUBLJANA - The ruling coalition tabled legislation it says will prevent the announced increase in monthly premiums of supplementary health insurance by turning it into an obligatory health contribution in a fixed monthly amount of 35 euros. Private insurers would be taken out of the equation. The amount of the contribution would be adjusted once a year based on the rise of average gross pay and paid by employers on behalf of employees and the public pension fund ZPIZ for pensioners, according to the draft obtained by the STA. The opposition described the proposal as "cheap PR", private insurers said it would not help make the health system sustainable long-term, and employers warned against any new levies. Unions believe the new contribution should not be flat, but should depend on the person's income.

Ministry has no knowledge of talks on exchange of alleged Russian spies

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry is "not negotiating on the exchange of the two alleged Russian spies arrested in Slovenia, nor has it asked any ally to negotiate on our behalf", State Secretary Samuel Žbogar said in response to an MP question at a session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee. Denying the talks with allies on a potential exchange of the two alleged spies, who are in detention in Slovenia, Žbogar said the ministry had learnt about them reading "foreign media".

Ministry says it cannot confirm report about alleged Chinese involvement in cyberattack

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Samuel Žbogar said in response to a question in parliament that he could not confirm any of the claims in a media report about alleged Chinese involvement in the cyberattack on the Foreign Ministry that was detected last Friday. Quizzed by an opposition MP at a session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, Žbogar said the ministry had not spoken to the Chinese ambassador for now, because "there has been no confirmation about which country is behind the attack".

Fajon appeals to Schallenberg over border checks

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon urged her Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg to "consider the next steps" related to extending the border checks on the Slovenia-Austria border. Slovenia does not want stricter border controls, especially in the light of the coming tourist season, the ministry said. The Slovenian Business Association (SGZ), a Slovenian minority organisation based in Klagenfurt in Carinthia, called the Austrian authorities to immediately take steps to stop border checks, and Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser said there was no reason to extend the border checks.

Fajon ends three-day visit to Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon ended her three-day visit to Ethiopia where she met African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. "Europe's biggest mistake is talking about Africa without really understanding its problems," Fajon noted, adding that "Slovenia could be an exception". The visit was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations and to garner support for Slovenia's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Defence minister signs two agreements in Brazil

BRASILIA, Brazil - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec and his Brazilian counterpart José Múcio Monteiro signed an agreement on defence cooperation and another on the protection and transfer of confidential data as Šarec's paid an official visit to Brazil. The defence cooperation agreement is set to facilitate new ways of cooperation, particularly between the Slovenian and Brazilian armies, but also in developing defence capabilities through R&D. Šarec will also visit Argentina.

Jamnik named new head of SID Bank

LJUBLJANA - Borut Jamnik, who has served as executive at state-run companies for many years, was appointed new chairman of SID Bank, the state-owned export and development bank, to replace Damijan Dolinar. He will start the five-year term on 17 April. Jamnik has been serving on the SID Bank management board since 23 December last year. Before that he served as chairman of Modra Zavarovalnica, the pension insurer that is owned by the state's KAD pension management fund, since 2011.

NKBM banking group's net profit down slightly to EUR 106m in 2022

MARIBOR - The banking group NKBM, which became part of Hungary's OTP group this year, saw total assets and most revenue increase in 2022, but net profit fell by about 6% to slightly over EUR 106 million. The group's total assets increased by almost 5% last year to just over EUR 10.4 billion. The core business recorded a 6% rise in profit to EUR 115.6 million. The core business recorded a 6% rise in profit to EUR 115.6 million.

Farmers, too, will have to adjust to climate change, Pirc Musar says

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar understands farmers' frustration as increasingly harsh farming restrictions are planned, but says that climate change calls for adjustment, including by farmers. She told the STA in an interview ahead of tomorrow's meeting with farmer NGOs she believed that those who manage to adjust fast enough will be the winners.

Pensioners urge govt to implement two pension rises

LJUBLJANA - Two pensioner organisations urged the government to implement their proposal for an emergency 3.5% rise in pensions and for an additional 1% rise for all those who retired before 2012 after the council of the ZPIZ public pension insurance fund endorsed it earlier this year. The idea is to help pensioners cope with rising prices. According to the associations ZDUS and SUS, the government is allegedly against the rise arguing the EUR 198 million needed would affect fiscal sustainability.

Rupnik to be moved to home for elderly priests in Milan

ROME, Italy - The head of the Slovenian Jesuits Miran Žvanut confirmed that Jesuit priest and artist Marko Rupnik, who is accused of extensive mental and sexual abuse of nuns, will have to leave Rome. According to the weekly Reporter, he will have to move to a home for elderly priests in Milan. Žvanut told the STA the Jesuit community at the mosaic atelier of the Centro Aletti in Rome, founded and led by Rupnik for more than a decade, will be disbanded. He could not say what will happen to the centre itself.

UKC Ljubljana doctors oppose sewerage project

LJUBLJANA - Around 30 doctors from UKC Ljubljana, Slovenia's largest hospital, expressed their opposition to the construction of the C0 sewerage project on the outskirts of Ljubljana in a letter addressed to the government, parliament, municipality and a number of other institutions. The doctors, including head of the Centre for Clinical Toxicology and Pharmacology Miran Brvar, warn the project is a threat to drinking water supply.

Kangler elected head of Maribor chapter of SDS

MARIBOR - Former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler was elected head of the Maribor chapter of the SDS on Tuesday after the Democrats (SDS), the largest opposition party, absorbed his New People's Party (NLS). He was the only candidate for the post and was endorsed unanimously, media reported. Kangler will replace MP Dejan Kaloh, who received just 4.2% in last year's local election in Maribor.

Serbian lectorate established at Ljubljana Uni

LJUBLJANA - The Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana launched a Serbian course. It will be taught by the Department of Slavistics alongside Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Polish, Russian and Slovak languages. Serbian was first taught at the University of Ljubljana in 1919, then as part of the study programme Serbo-Croatian, which was later expanded and renamed. In 2009 the study programme South-Slavic Studies including Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Macedonian and Bulgarian was formed. Until now Serbian was covered in courses Croatian and Serbian Language that were based on the Croatian standard variant.

Ljubljana Festival to feature ballet and opera, rock and musical

LJUBLJANA - The 71st Ljubljana Festival, the largest summer festival in the country, will bring an eclectic mix of performances from 20 June to 3 September. Ballet, opera and classical music remain the mainstay, but they will be interspersed with music for fans of fantasy, rock and musicals. Classical music performances include the Boston Symphony Orchestra with soloists on 1 September, and the 28 August performance by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from Amsterdam with award-winning conductor Iván Fischer.

Ten restaurants awarded top rating by Gault&Millau this year

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian edition of the renowned French restaurant guide Gault&Millau announced on Tuesday this year's best Slovenian restaurants that received the highest ranking of four toques. Janez Bratovž of JB Restaurant in Ljubljana was named Chef of the Year and the top accolades were awarded to ten restaurants, two more than last year.

Tour of Slovenia ready for 30th birthday bash

LJUBLJANA- Slovenia's biggest cycling race, the Tour of Slovenia, is celebrating 30 years this year. With Slovenian cycling making waves on the world stage, the race has attracted increasingly strong international fields in its mid-June slot. "We have put together a route of 833 kilometres which will provide a lot of interesting racing over the five days. The fight for the general classification should start on the first day and last all five stages," race director Bogdan Fink told the press.

Peer violence case grabs headlines

CELJE - Celje police confirmed they are investigating a peer violence case and have so far identified five perpetrators after reports and footage of an attack on a reportedly 13-year-old girl by a group of peers stirred Slovenia in recent days. While police were tight-lipped about the details of the incident, Radio Slovenija reported about the footage, which has been making rounds on social media, showing the incident starting inside a shopping centre and then continuing outside, on a roof.

© STA, 2023