News roundup - Tuesday, 18 April

Ljubljana, 18 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 18 April:

MPs override veto on changes to foreigners legislation

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly managed to override the upper chamber's veto on the changes to the Foreigners Act that among others postpone a basic language requirement for adult members of the families of third-country workers. The vote was 50:32. The coalition parties Freedom Movement and Social Democrats (SD) and the two minority MPs voted in favour of the bill, while the Left and the two opposition parties, Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi), voted against, but out of different reasons. The Left argued A1 proficiency was required from the families of blue-collar workers, but not those of managers or athletes, while the opposition is against the 18-month postponement.

Drago Šketa reappointed state prosecutor general

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly reappointed Drago Šketa as Slovenia's state prosecutor general in a 54:25 vote. He will assume his second six-year term in early May. While the coalition endorsed his reappointment, the largest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS), voiced certain reservations about him. Šketa, 54, was the only candidate to apply for the job, and his bid received the nod of approval from the Prosecutorial Council and the government.

Information security of state administration to be beefed up

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed in a fast-track procedure changes to the Information Security Act to boost the protection of the central information-communication system of the public administration. The coalition sees them as crucial for national security and the opposition parties believe they are a step in the right direction. The amendments increase information and cyber security and resilience of individuals and the central system, as well as provide more effective control over whether measures are being respected.

MPs pass changes to two energy crisis laws

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to two emergency laws aimed at addressing the energy crisis. Transposing EU rules, amendments to the Act on Measures for Management of Crisis Conditions in the Field of Energy Supply will see gas suppliers that are balance responsible parties obligated to participate in joint purchases of natural gas at the EU level. The changes to the Act on Emergency Intervention to Address High Energy Prices are amending the collection of the windfall tax imposed on electricity suppliers. Under the changes, only electricity producers and not traders anymore will be taxable.

Farmers give up on talks with govt, announce new rally

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of farmers, who have been at loggerheads with the government over environmental and other restrictions and policies they said are making it near impossible to continue farming, announced they were giving up on negotiations after two weeks. They will organise a new protest rally next week and step up activities if needed. The main demands of the farmers include the adjusting of new environmental rules so as to stay within realistic limits still allowing farming, a re-examination and reduction of Natura 2000-protected areas and the refraining from new taxes. Regretting their decision, PM Robert Golob said that the move suggested there might be some other interest behind it, and not the actual interest of farmers.

Parliamentary commission reports SDS MP to authorities

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary commission investigating suspected unlawful financing of political parties said it had reported Zoran Mojškerc, a deputy for the opposition party Democrats (SDS), to the authorities over suspicious deals. The commission also slapped him with a fine because he would not answer questions. The commission interviewed Mojškerc at the end of March, inquiring about his former company Geopolar Zaščite, which manages media portal Utrip-Ljubljana and, and his cooperation with Boštjan Aver, a candidate of the SDS for top posts at several state-owned companies.

Judges urging govt to raise their pay

LJUBLJANA - Judges issued a statement on Monday urging the government to immediately eliminate pay disparities in the public sector and raise their pay. Should it fail to act by the end of the month, judges will resort to "additional measures", reads their joint statement. They say "that the pay disparities due to which judicial pay lags behind other pay in the public sector by more than 20% in some cases should be eliminated". Responding, PM Robert Golob said "unfortunately, in the public sector, one group of professions cannot be treated separately from the others". He is confident that an adequate solution will be found for judges as part of the ongoing talks with all public sector groups, but the Justice Ministry believes the issue should be tackled before.

Health insurance fund assembly criticises two health reform bills

LJUBLJANA - The assembly of the public health insurer ZZZS discussed the government-sponsored bills to reform the governance of the ZZZS and on digitalisation of healthcare, arguing that they did not address the key issues in healthcare. It also wants that its representatives be included in the relevant negotiations of social partners. The assembly unanimously concluded that, during the public consultation and negotiations as part of the Economic and Social Council (ESS), the content of the laws should be "radically and conceptually changed".

Constitutional complaint filed over Austria extending border checks

KLAGENFURT, Austria - Lawyer Rudi Vouk, a member of the Slovenian minority in the Austrian state of Carinthia, announced that his Klagenfurt-based law firm Grilc Vouk Škof had filed a complaint to the Austrian Constitutional Court over the country's recent decision to yet again extend control at the border with Slovenia for another six months. The press release sent to the STA by Vouk says that border control is in contravention of relevant rulings of the EU Court and that it "violates the citizens' right to equality before law and further rights guaranteed by the constitution."

Pirc Musar praises efforts of Slovenian minority in Hungary

SZENTGOTTHARD, Hungary - President Nataša Pirc Musar visited the Slovenian minority in Hungary ahead of her official visit to Budapest on Wednesday. She praised the minority representatives for their efforts to develop the community, perseverance in strengthening national consciousness, and contribution to improving the relations between Slovenia and Hungary, the president's office said. Representatives of the minority said the greatest challenge was Slovenian language teaching and efforts to provide prospects for young Slovenians in the Porabje region.

Challenges and ways to meet them discussed at Slovenian-German business event

BLED - Executives discussed Slovenia as a business destination at the traditional German-Slovenian Economics Day event in Bled, highlighting as major obstacles to doing business staff shortages, problems with transport infrastructure, and non-transparent procedures to win a public procurement deal or obtain a permit. The event was organised by the German-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and IEDC Bled School of Management, and a study into 57 indicators in six countries the German Economic Institute from Cologne conducted for the chamber served as the basis for the discussion.

Faculty of Electrical Engineering boosting cybersecurity

LJUBLJANA - The Faculty of Electrical Engineering has set up cutting-edge infrastructure in its telecommunications lab for research and prototyping to boost cybersecurity in modern data environments. It includes Ethernet and IP-network, 5G-mobile core and radio access network, tools for monitoring and profiling cyberattacks, internet of things, cloud infrastructure and data ecosystem. Users have a wide range of services and capabilities available for experimenting and conducting tests in advanced usage scenarios, including emulation, DPI and advanced analytics.

Drago Jančar wins literary award in Italy

UDINE, Italy - Writer Drago Jančar received on Saturday the 30th Latisana per il Nord Est international literary prize, handed out to writers who were born or live in the Italian regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto, or Austria, Croatia and Slovenia, or whose works are set in these regions and countries or deal with themes relating to them. Jančar accepted the prize for his novel In Ljubezen Tudi (And Love Itself) translated into Italian by Darja Betocchi. The jury praised his "selected prose" and the "masterpiece translation" by Betocchi, which presents to Italian readers a story of love, hatred and the consequences that the war has left on the protagonists and Jančar's birth town of Maribor, the publisher Beletrina wrote.

Slovenians from abroad to present their art in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for Slovenians Abroad is starting a series of events this evening at which ethnic Slovenian artists from around the globe will present their work to Slovenians at home. The first to appear in Ljubljana as part of the In the Homeland series will be young Slovenian minority writer Alex Kama Devetak from Italy's Gorizia. Devetak is the winner of the 2021 Urška Young Literature Festival and author of the 2022 collection of short stories Nedaleč (Not Far), his debut.

Rembrandt's prints on show at National Gallery

LJUBLJANA - Prints by the celebrated Dutch painter Rembrandt will be on show at the National Gallery in Ljubljana from 26 April to 30 July, alongside works by artists he inspired. The exhibition features 43 of the Great Master's original prints and two of his etching plates and 14 prints by the contemporaries and later artists that were inspired by him, such as James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Pablo Picasso. All of the works come from the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam.

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