Govt dismisses head of Office for National Minorities

Ljubljana, 31 May - The government dismissed on Wednesday Stanko Baluh, the long-term director of the government Office for National Minorities, and appointed Janez Doltar acting head until a director is appointed for a full terms.

The government dismissed Baluh under the provisions of the Public Employees Act, which allows it to dismiss certain ministry, government and municipal officials without a cause, within one year of taking office. The Robert Golob government took over on 1 June 2022.

Doltar has so far been in charge of Roma issues at the Novo Mesto city municipality and has also chaired the commission for integration of the Roma community at the Association of the Slovenian Municipalities.

The government also confirmed today amendments to the law on special rights of the Italian and Hungarian minorities in education, which will allow children with special needs to be included in a special educational programme regardless of their municipality of residence, the Education Ministry said.

The cabinet also responded today to an inquiry from the Human Rights Ombudsman about its plan regarding the Council of Europe's recommendations on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in Slovenia in relation to the German-speaking community in the country and about the question of whether the community should be granted minority protection under the Constitution.

It said that in line with its Constitution and legislation Slovenia said when ratifying the convention that the Italian and Hungarian minorities have constitutionally protected rights in Slovenia and that the rules from the convention also apply to members of the Roma community.

Nevertheless, other ethnic groups in Slovenia, including members of the German-speaking community and other ethnic communities enjoy certain rights. The government believes that members of these communities are guaranteed an adequate level of constitutional protection of their rights.

It added that an agreement between the Slovenian and Austrian governments on cooperation in culture, education and science provides an additional legal basis for this protection.

Moreover, the Culture Ministry has set up a task force for a permanent dialogue with representatives of the German-speaking community in Slovenia, which includes representatives of their organisations, as well as representatives of the culture, education and foreign ministries and the Office for National Minorities.

The group's task is to address the topics covered by the three ministries, including language and culture, in order to preserve and further develop linguistic and cultural diversity, the press release says.

© STA, 2023