News roundup - Thursday, 20 April

Ljubljana, 20 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 20 April:

Africa Conference hears partnership key to addressing climate change

BRDO PRI KRANJU - The two-day International Africa Day Conference began at Brdo pri Kranju addressing key challenges of climate security. Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said climate change policies can be successful only if all stakeholders work together. Echoing this, President Nataša Pirc Musar also noted Africa's unfair climate change predicament. In one of the panels, the foreign ministers of four African countries noted the need for global cooperation in fighting climate change. They said Africa is not to blame for the climate crisis, while being the most affected by its consequences. The conference is also an opportunity for Slovenia to lobby for support for its bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and some countries expressed their support for Slovenia's bid.

Golob and Breton discuss nuclear energy for green transition

VIPAVA - Prime Minister Robert Golob said after meeting European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton that they shared the view that nuclear energy was part of green transition. He also believes that funding for nuclear energy should come from EU funds. Breton, too, pointed to the role of nuclear energy in green transition, as it produces no CO2, as well as to the role of innovation in this field. In order to reach the 2050 climate goals, the EU's share of nuclear energy should be at least 20% by then, he quoted the Commission's estimates.

Slovenia joining joint EU procurement of ammunition for Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - The government discussed the EU's joint purchases of ammunition for Ukraine, deciding that once Defence Minister Marjan Šarec signs the project arrangement with the European Defence Agency (EDA), the government will endorse it by issuing a decree, the Defence Ministry said. Twenty-three EU member states and Norway have so far signed the arrangement, which was agreed on by EU defence and foreign ministers earlier this year.

PM believes defence spending boost should bolster companies

VIPAVA - Defence spending should be increased by supporting Slovenian high tech companies, Prime Minister Robert Golob said after meeting European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton. Slovenia will play an important role in the development of advanced defence technologies, Breton said. Golob, Breton, Defence Minister Marjan Šarec and Economy Minister Matjaž Han visited Timtec, the Ajdovščina-based developer and producer of defence systems. They also learned more about another company from Ajdovščina, C-Astral, which manufactures small fixed-wing unmanned aerial systems.

Slovenia receives first EUR 50m from EU recovery facility

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission paid out the first EUR 50 million to Slovenia from the Recovery and Resilience Facility after the country met the 12 milestones required. Slovenia's overall recovery and resilience plan will be supported by EUR 1.50 billion in grants and up to EUR 3.2 billion in loans. To date, the country has received EUR 281 million in grants, including today's payment and the EUR 231 million in pre-financing it received in September 2021.

Govt grilling debate ends without conclusions

LJUBLJANA - The 14-hour grilling of the Robert Golob government in parliament wrapped up just before midnight without conclusions or a vote of no confidence but with opposition leader Janez Janša urging the government to "get a grip". Speaking to reporters after, Janša made a prediction that the government would not complete its term. He indicated his party will fight proposals it deems harmful for the country with more referendums if necessary. Golob said the debate showed clearly the difference between his government, which he said was facing reality and Janša's, which lived in the past.

Illegal migrations quadruple in first quarter

LJUBLJANA - Police recorded 8,133 instances of migrants entering the country illegally in the first three months of the year, more than four times the figure in the same period last year. Most migrants came from Afghanistan, Morocco, Russia and Cuba. As many as 7,628 migrants stated their intention to apply for international protection, but only 1,400 applications were actually filed, which is even fewer than in the first quarter of last year, data from the Interior Ministry show.

Draft supplementary budget for 2023 reduces deficit by 11%

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a supplementary budget proposal for 2023, which follows the government restructuring and accordingly redistributes funds between individual departments. Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič noted that expenditure was not increasing anywhere. The deficit is being reduced by EUR 376 million to EUR 2.9 billion, or 4.5% of GDP. "Fiscal rules will apply again next year, so we must manage public finances prudently," the minister said.

Committee approves govt budgeting plans for 2024-2026

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee approved the regulation setting the general government budgeting framework for the next three years. The government aims to gradually reduce the deficit, which is expected to drop below the reference cap of 3% of GDP as early as next year. In 2022, the deficit amounted to 3.9% of GDP, and the currently valid regulation allows the deficit to rise to 5% of GDP this year, but the new regulation sets it at 2.8% of GDP for 2024, 2.2% in 2025 and 1.3% of GDP in 2026.

Govt adopts changes to insolvency legislation

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted changes to the insolvency legislation, transposing EU law and introducing solutions that should prevent insolvencies and improve the situation of creditors. The bill brings two major changes - a new procedure to eliminate looming insolvency and changes to the simplified procedure for small businesses. "We believe the proposed changes will help improve the situation of creditors, especially workers, and the payment of their claims in insolvency procedures," Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan said.

President meets minority reps ahead of Vienna trip

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar met representatives of the Slovenian minority in Austria ahead of her first official visit to Vienna scheduled for Monday. The meeting focused on the minority's rights, which, Pirc Musar said, were basic human rights. Talking about the minority's position and the challenges it faces, the community representatives pointed to efforts to preserve the Slovenian language. The president and minority representatives shared the view that Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen is an honest partner involved in regular dialogue about these topics.

Slovenian space companies visiting US

COLORADO SPRINGS, US - A delegation of ten Slovenian space companies is visiting the US under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport and the investment promotion agency SPIRIT. The companies were presented at the Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Featured are the companies Dewesoft, Duol, Ferročrtalič, Ineor, Intectiv, Instrumentation Technologies, Magneti Ljubljana, Skylabs, and X-lab. The companies also had bilateral meetings with US companies and institutions.

Association critical of slow drafting of long-term care bill

LJUBLJANA - Silver Thread, an association campaigning for dignified old age, is critical of the government over what it feels is too slow drafting of changes to the long-term care act. It is also concerned about increase in nursing home prices, urging the government to increase pensions by 3.5%, as proposed by the pension purse operator ZPIZ. The association is critical because the government has not yet produced an expert document to base the bill on. It is distressed by media reports indicating a departure from tried and tested solutions and integrated social care and healthcare.

Adriatic-Ionian countries sign agreement on healthy ageing

LJUBLJANA - Participants of the first international conference on active and healthy ageing discussed the issue of providing health services to the elderly living in remote areas of the Adriatic-Ionian region, stressing the importance of developing telemedicine. The participating countries signed a memorandum of understanding for healthy and socially engaged as part of the SI4CARE project aimed at creating an efficient international ecosystem where social innovation would be applied in health services in the face of ageing population.

EU prosecution indicts two in EU funds fraud case

CELJE - The European Public Prosecutor's Office has brought charges against two individuals and two legal entities, suspected of EU funds fraud to the tune of EUR 648,000, the Celje District court said. The company owned by the main suspect won a Labour Ministry tender for long-term social activation programmes and inclusion in the job market in May of 2017, wrongfully stating in the application that it met all criteria.

Patient Associations speak up on healthcare reforms

LJUBLJANA - The Union of Patient Associations of Slovenia presented its views on healthcare reforms at a press conference, welcoming changes in governance of the ZZZS public health insurer. it believes top-up health insurance should be abolished only if the resulting obligatory contributions would be proportional to income. The union believes that the proposed two-tier system separating management and supervisors in the ZZZS public health insurer is a step in the right direction but it has to be implemented consistently, said the Chair of the Committee on Legislation and Legal Aid for Patients Rado Bohinc.

Exhibition on WWI widows, orphans, invalids opens in Maribor

MARIBOR - An exhibition on the victims of the First World War that history research often sidelines - widows, orphans and war invalids - is opening at the National Liberation Museum in Maribor. The Forgotten Victims of WWI - Widows, Orphans and War Invalids was curated by historian Gregor Antoličič based on his extensive research. Rough estimates show that there were around 90,000 war invalids, 180,000 war widows and 200,000 war orphans in the of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes after 1918.

Cannabis legalisation gathering returns to Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Supporters of legalisation of cannabis gathered for the Marijuana March for the first time since 2019. Organised by the Ljubljana University Student Organisation, the event warns about the negative societal, economic and health effects of cannabis prohibition, the organiser Matej Svetina told the STA. The Left, a coalition party, called on the authors of the national programme on illegal drugs for 2023-2030 to launch a serious, responsible and informed debate leading to legalisation of cannabis.

Lifetime achievement in film renamed to also celebrate Milka Badjura

LJUBLJANA - The Metod Badjura Award for lifetime achievement in film was renamed the Milka and Metod Badjura award in an effort to rectify the often overlooked contribution of Milka Badjura as a pioneer of Slovenian cinema and the joint creative power of the Badjura couple, distinguished by their creativity, perseverance and passion for cinema. The step had been promoted by a number of expert bodies and individuals and was now approved by the council of the Slovenian Film Centre so as to "reunite the most important Slovenian filmmaker couple, whose work often cannot be treated separately".

© STA, 2023