News roundup - Friday, 21 April

Ljubljana, 21 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 21 April:

UN candidacy envoy optimistic about non-permanent Security Council seat

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Franci But, Slovenia's special envoy for the country's candidacy for a non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council, is optimistic ahead of the vote in early June, but does not want to say how many countries indicated support. "We are running to win the vote. We're optimistic and we believe in our candidacy." Talking to the STA on Thursday on the sidelines of the annual Africa Day conference, But said he expected Slovenia to succeed because countries where Slovenia is seeking support "appreciate that you come and visit, talk to them and try to understand them".

Africa Day conference ends with calls for joint solutions

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Slovenian ministers for the economy and for natural resources Matjaž Han and Uroš Brežan called at the Africa Day conference at Brdo pri Kranju for nature-based solutions to address the challenges of sustainable development, biodiversity and climate change. Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta stressed that economic resilience and climate security are two intertwined challenges that need urgent attention from governments, economies and citizens around the world. Efforts to tackle climate change were also the topic of bilateral meetings Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon with African counterparts on the sidles of the event.

Parliament endorses three-year fiscal policy framework

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed the general government budgeting framework decree for the next three-year period that predicts a gradual reduction in deficit to align it to EU rules. Based on the regulation, the government will draw up draft budgets for next two years. Under the document, the general government deficit in 2024 is to drop to 2.8% of GDP, below the EU ceiling 3% of GDP, before contracting further to 2.2% in 2025 and just 1.3% in 2026.

Petrol will probably sue the state over price regulation, CEO says

LJUBLJANA - Nada Drobne Popović, the CEO of the energy company Petrol, announced in an interview with the STA that, after the State Attorney's Office rejected a proposal for an amicable settlement of the dispute over fuel price regulation in the spring of 2022, Petrol will probably file a lawsuit against the state to get compensated for the damage. Petrol estimates the damage incurred due to fuel price restrictions at EUR 106.9 million.

Stricter recording of work time enacted

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to labour legislation that aim to curb violations of working hours provisions by introducing recording of additional data on working hours and mandatory electronic records of working hours for companies that have been fined for violating labour legislation. Employers will be required to record not only number of hours worked by the employees but also the time or arrival, departure, breaks, hours in special conditions and unevenly distributed work hours. the opposition opposed the amendments, arguing they increased red tape.

Golob announces shift in communication

LJUBLJANA - The senior coalition party, the Freedom Movement, will no longer be making promises to the public, but will continue to work hard and then inform the public of the results, Prime Minister Robert Golob said late on Thursday, following the party's council meeting. "There are numerous tasks that need to be completed and people's needs that need to be met. We are starting on the path with full responsibility," Golob told the press.

AmCham event notes need to attract foreign labour

LJUBLJANA - Speaking at an AmCham Slovenia-hosted discussion on migrant labour Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that Slovenia still needed to make significant progress in this area. Slovenia would need to be much more ambitious to be truly attractive to foreign workers, she said. "This is also about the rhetoric used in politics, by media and in society. Stereotypes against foreigners remain very much present in society," she said.

Ministry acting on driving licence issue affecting minority in Italy

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry has called on the Italian government on several occasions to convene a meeting of a body dealing with minority issues after ethnic Slovenians have been required to pay extra to have their names written correctly in driving licences. However, the meeting has not been called. The ministry said this in response to a question from ruling coalition MPs who noted that members of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy have to pay extra to have their name written with č, š, ž - the three Slovenian letters the Italian alphabet does not have - when extending their driving licence.

European Commission sends delegation to discuss pesticides ban

LJUBLJANA - A delegation of the European Commission led by Deputy Director-General for Health and Food Safety Claire Bury wrapped up its visit to Slovenia, focused on the proposed ban of pesticides in sensitive areas, which Slovenian farmers strongly oppose. The Agriculture Ministry presented to the delegation the situation in Slovenia and real-life examples to show that Slovenia is already meeting many demands when it comes to limiting the use of phytopharmaceuticals.

Slovenia to insist on better honey sourcing transparency

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will insist on greater transparency in the sourcing of honey, by striving to amend a proposal by the European Commission so as to include on the label not only the exact origin of honey in mixed products but also the ratios of honey by the country of origin. The European Commission presented its proposal for the overhaul of market standards for agricultural food products which includes clearer honey origin information today.

Highest ranking woman in Slovenian Church optimistic about future

LJUBLJANA - Mojca Marija Šimenc, the first woman appointed secretary general of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference believes women have "enough opportunities to fulfil our mission" in Church. Talking to the STA after taking on her new role on Monday, Šimenc said she was optimistic about the future of the Church. The head of the Slovenian Daughters of Mary Help of Christians said she had consulted her community of sisters and the head in Rome before taking the job. "I could feel within me this was a call from God."

Islamic community want to discuss food options in schools

LJUBLJANA - The Mufti of the Islamic Community in Slovenia, Nevzet Porić, said in his message on Eid al-Fitr that the community would launch talks with the government about imams becoming religious workers under Slovenian law and about food options in kindergartens and schools. In the message broadcast by the public broadcaster TV Slovenija last night, Porić said about the status of imams that Slovenia's constitution ensured equality of all religious communities. Religious workers have their social contributions covered by the state.

President calls for better access to dementia diagnostics

MARIBOR - President Nataša Pirc Musar called for efforts to make diagnostics more accessible for people with dementia as she took part in an international conference on dementia organised by the Forget-Me-Not Association, an organisation promoting dementia awareness. The president called for treatment appropriate to diagnosis and access to health care services for all. The 2030 national strategy on managing dementia, which is expected to be endorsed soon, is an important step towards dignified old age for people with dementia, she said, stressing that everyone should be ensured dignified old age.

Consumer confidence improves again on monthly level, but worse than in 2022

LJUBLJANA - The consumer confidence indicator improved for the third straight month in April compared to the previous month; this time by three percentage points. It, however, continues to be lower than in 2022, the April decline also amounting to three percentage points, the Statistics Office said. All four components of the indicator improved at the monthly level, the most expectations about household finances.

Steel group SIJ reports record earnings

LJUBLJANA - Steel group SIJ generated EUR 1.3 billion in sales revenue in 2022, a 35% increase on the year before and a record figure to date. EBITDA was up by 80% to an all-time high EUR 180 million and net profit more then trebled to EUR 95.4 million, according to the annual report released by the company. "SIJ Group marked its best financial result to date," the company said. The group generates most of its sales abroad with Germany and Italy remaining its largest export markets.

Telemach mobile towers sold to Saudi company Tawal

LJUBLJANA/AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands - The media and telecommunications group United Group has sold its mobile towers infrastructure in Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia to the Saudi company Tawal. While the value of the transaction has not been disclosed, United Group estimates the infrastructure at EUR 1.22 billion. In Slovenia, United Group owns several media outlets, as well as the mobile operator Telemach. It said in a press release the sale was keeping in a global trend in the industry of monetising on mobile towers.

Equinox posts higher revenue and profit after joining SBI TOP

LJUBLJANA - Real-estate company Equinox posted EUR 1.83 million in net sales revenue in the first quarter of 2023, up 15% year-on-year, and about EUR 679,000 in net profit, up 43%, said the company after joining the benchmark index of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange in January. The bulk of the net revenue, EUR 1.67 million, was generated by rents from Equinox's portfolio, up 18% on the same period in 2022.

Janina Kos wins French Institute translation prize

LJUBLJANA - The French Institute in Slovenia presented its Charles Nodier Award to Janina Kos for her translation into Slovenian of The Anomaly by Herve Le Tellier. The winner was announced by the French Ambassador Florence Levy. The judging panel said that the translation is faithful in style and content to the French original and simultaneously sturdy and precise in Slovenian. Kos, who translates from French and Spanish, has already translated works from authors like the Booker Prize winner David Diop and Goncourt laureate Jean-Paul Dubois.

Photographer Jošt Franko wins The Aftermath Project grant

NEW YORK, US - Slovenian photographer Jošt Franko is this year's winner of The Aftermath Project, a prestigious US grant supporting post-conflict storytelling in photography. What won him the US$ 25,000 prize is his project documenting a community and landscape deeply marred and marginalised by the war in the former Yugoslavia. This is the first time that the grant went to Europe and the first time it celebrates a project dealing with the aftermath of the war taking place after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

© STA, 2023