News roundup - Friday, 14 April

Ljubljana, 14 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 14 April:

Pirc Musar aiming for content-filled presidential term

LJUBLJANA - Roughly three months into her term, Slovenia's first woman President Nataša Pirc Musar outlined for the STA her ongoing projects and plans. These include substance-filled efforts, contributing to the many reform plans, and actively using the power of her voice. She has "a very good feeling" about Slovenia's non-permanent UN Security Council membership bid, feels that border controls within Schengen are not called for, that NATO is important for Slovenia and that "there simply can be no negotiated peace without Ukraine" at the negotiating table. She also announced her plan to introduce a human rights award and launch her podcast.

Foreign minister concludes Tanzania visit

DODOMA, Tanzania - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon concluded her mini Africa tour, as part of which she visited Ethiopia and Tanzania as she sought support for Slovenia's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2024-2025. Today, she concluded a two-day working visit to Tanzania, where she met her counterpart Stergomena Lawrence Tax and Speaker of the National Assembly Tulia Ackson. Strengthening bilateral political and especially economic cooperation was also discussed, with Lawrence Tax welcoming Fajon's initiative for political consultations between the two countries.

President to pay official visit to Hungary next week

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar will pay an official visit to Hungary on Wednesday to meet her counterpart Karalin Novak, PM Viktor Orban and President of the Hungarian Parliament Laszlo Köver. The two presidents plan to focus on bilateral ties and the rights of the respective minorities in both countries. They will also discuss cross-border projects and improvements in cross-border connectivity, Pirc Musar's office said. The war in Ukraine, protection of the environment, water diplomacy and management, the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans, and respect for the rule of law in the EU will be among the international issues they plan to broach. This will be Pirc Musar's first official visit abroad.

Governor Vasle says inflation remains a challenge

WASHINGTON, US - Boštjan Vasle, the governor of Slovenia's central bank, said that inflation remains a challenge for the world economy as he attended the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank. "It remains high throughout the developed world. In some cases the factors driving inflation are even growing stronger." Against the backdrop of these inflationary trends, potential future interest rate hikes will depend on future situations on financial markets. Overall, the meeting returned to the core topics at the heart of both the IMF and the World Bank, he said. "Even though economic growth is expected to ease, words such as recession have disappeared from the agenda."

Slovenian agri minister meets Croatian counterpart

OTOČEC - Slovenia's Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko met her Croatian counterpart Marija Vučković to discuss ways to draw funds from the expiring Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and noting that Slovenia had used some 73% of the available funds. The pair touched on the CAP strategic plan for 2023-2027. Now that the implementation started, they found certain things that will need to be changed, Šinko added. Both countries are considering "revising their strategic plans and going for a new update". Another topic on the agenda was flavescence dorée, a grapevine disease that has been a challenge for both countries.

Slovenia and Croatia exchange best practices in public administration

ZAGREB, Croatia - Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik and her Croatian counterpart Ivan Malenica discussed public sector pay system reform and exchanged examples of best practice as they met in Zagreb. The pair expressed satisfaction about the common views and cooperation between the two countries. The Slovenian and Croatian delegations also discussed the non-governmental sector, which the Public Administration Ministry described as an important partner in the formulation of national and local regulations and development policies.

Minister meets Slovenian community in Czechia

BRNO, Czechia - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon visited the Slovenian community in Brno, Czechia. He stressed the importance of maintaining contacts with Slovenians living outside the country and praised the good cooperation, friendship and historical ties between the two countries. Arčon was received by Governor of the South Moravian Region Jan Grolich to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation. According to his office, more than 400 Slovenians currently live in Czechia.

Event marks 30 years of Military Schools Centre

MARIBOR - The Military Schools Centre celebrated its 30th birthday in 2021, but due to Covid restrictions the event marking the anniversary was held with a two-year delay in Maribor today. Addressing the ceremony, President Nataša Pirc Musar described the centre as the pillar of military education and training in Slovenia, and an important promoter of Slovenian military thought and the development and strengthening of military expertise and professions. So far, it has provided education to over 1,000 individuals and and more than 250 people have been sent to participate in educational or training programmes abroad.

SDS remains wealthiest political party

LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) remained the wealthiest parliamentary party in Slovenia in 2022, shows data from the AJPES agency for public records. The largest opposition party's revenue and expenditure were the highest among parliamentary parties, same as in 2021, and it recorded the highest deficit spending in the year marked by several elections. In the super election year, the SDS recorded some EUR 1.85 million in revenue and EUR 3 million in expenditure with a deficit of EUR 1.21 million.

Covid procurement case against ex-minister makes headway

LJUBLJANA - The news portal 24ur reported that the Specialised State Prosecutor's Office had asked for a court-led investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in ventilator purchases during the Covid pandemic levelled against former Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, his former aide Andreja Potočnik, and Marko Bitenc, CEO of ventilator supplier Geneplanet. Počivalšek is reportedly accused of abuse of office. The National Bureau of Investigation filed criminal charges against the trio in May 2022. The Specialised State Prosecutor's Office confirmed for the STA that on 12 April such as request had been filed with the Ljubljana District Court.

MPs vote down proposal to suspend C0 sewerage project

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities did not endorse on Thursday a proposal to suspend construction of the C0 sewerage project on the outskirts of Ljubljana, which raises concern about its impact on drinking water. The commission did endorse the proposal to urge relevant authorities to check all the permits and the legal basis for the Ljubljana municipality's actions in relation to the owners of the land where the C0 channel is being built.

Petrol shareholders to get dividends despite loss

LJUBLJANA - The management and supervisory boards of Petrol proposed for the energy company to pay a dividend of 70 cents gross per share this year despite the company posting a loss in 2022. Petrol shareholders received EUR 30 gross per share last year, but the stock has since been split. Considering the split of shares from one to 20, the dividend this year will be about half that paid out last year. The shareholders will vote on the proposal in May.

Luka Koper expects lower revenue, profit this year

KOPER - After posting all-time high sales, profit and cargo throughput last year, Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's sole maritime port, expects net sales revenue to drop by 7% and net profit by 56% this year. Cargo throughput is expected to stay level, shows the company's annual report. Last year, net sales amounted to EUR 313.5 million, while this year they are expected to stand at around EUR 290 million. Net profit is to fall EUR 32.3 million this year. The company's management proposes a dividend payout of EUR 2.5 gross per share, more than double last year's. EUR 35 million will be spent on dividends.

Just over 200 bears culled last year

KOČEVJE - Slovenia is home to some 1,100 brown bears, 120 wolves and 30 lynxes. Despite the fact that all three species of large carnivores are protected, the bear and wolf populations are regulated mainly by culling. In 2022, 206 bears were culled, while the government has approved the culling of 230 bears for 2023. Between 2010 and 2015, some 50 to 100 bears were culled annually. In 2016 and 2017, the numbers fell to 25 and 30. As many as 19 wolves were culled in 2019, while in 2022 that figure was four.

Vintgar Gorge imposes cap on visitors

GORJE - After the winter break, Vintgar Gorge near Bled is again open to visitors but under restrictions, one of them being an official cap on visitor numbers. This is the first such restriction imposed on a natural sight in Slovenia, Janez Poklukar, president of the Gorje Tourist Association, said at a press conference on Thursday. Only 245 people are allowed to the gorge at the same time, and the daily number must not exceed 2,290. The gorge is one of the most popular natural sights in the country.

Maribor pays tribute to designer Brumen with retrospective

MARIBOR - The Maribor Art Gallery opened an exhibition on Jože Brumen, a late designer of books and visual identities, also featuring the winners of the 10th Brumen Bienniale of Slovenian Design. The first retrospective of Brumen's work was curated by Petra Černe Oven and Cvetka Požar and first opened at the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana in 2021. Brumen (1930-2000) was born in Maribor, studied architecture and sculpture, and won numerous prestigious awards. He was the first designer to receive the national Prešeren Fund Prize for visual communications back in 1967.

Ukrainian Embassy donates books to Maribor library

LJUBLJANA - The Maribor library received a collection of books in Ukrainian from the Ukrainian Embassy in Slovenia. The books are mainly intended for young readers and were officially handed over by Ukrainian Ambassador to Slovenia Andriy Taran. The 214-volume book collection will be available in full at the library for children and youth in the TPC City shopping centre and in part at the TPC City Central Library, the Nova Vas library for children and youth and the Pobrežje Library.

Cankarjev Dom gets Alma Karlin hall

LJUBLJANA - A new venue named after writer and globetrotter Alma Karlin (1889-1950) was inaugurated at the Cankarjev Dom arts and conference centre on Thursday evening. The new 400-square-metre hall with panoramic views of Ljubljana will be intended for art events, small theatre events, concerts and literary evenings, said director general Uršula Cetinski. The project cost more than half a million euro without the equipment. Originally, the space was a terrace that was closed with windows in 2008.

European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad begins in Portorož

PORTOROŽ - The European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad is starting in Portorož, featuring talented young mathematicians enrolled in secondary schools in 56 countries. Slovenia will be represented by eight girls, who will try to improve on a bronze medal score secured last year in Hungary. Last year the best overall performance was delivered by students from the US, which had three gold medal and one silver medal score, followed by those from Peru and Australia. Slovenia finished 37th.

© STA, 2023