News roundup - Wednesday, 19 July

Ljubljana, 19 July - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 19 July:

FM says goal for Bosnia to start EU accession talks by year's end

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Arriving for a session of the EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina Stabilisation and Association Council, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said the goal was for the country to start EU accession talks by the end of the year. Slovenia expects the country to implement reforms ambitiously and will support it there. "Considering the country has formed government structures at all levels very rapidly, the fastest in its history, that it has passed the biggest budget, we obviously expect now that it will implement reforms very ambitiously. The goal of Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina is that it starts accession talks for membership by the end of the year."

Benedejčič appointed ambassador to NATO

LJUBLJANA - Seasoned diplomat Andrej Benedejčič, currently serving as state secretary for national and international security in the office of the prime minister, has been appointed Slovenia's new ambassador to NATO. Benedejčič is returning to the post he held between 2011 and 2015. Made official with an order by President Nataša Pirc Musar published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday, the appointment is the latest in a recent series of changes at Slovenia's diplomatic posts abroad, including in Washington, the Vatican, Kyiv, and Ankara.

Fajon says Slovenia's position on Croatia border arbitration unchanged

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon that Slovenia was not changing its position when it comes to the need to honour and implement the Croatia border arbitration award. She however also echoed the recent conciliatory statements by PM Robert Golob, advocating a gradual approach to such issues, including by building good relations with Croatia. "By no means is the question of arbitration being relativised or being taken off the political agenda. Arbitration is a fact for Slovenia."

Slovenia hit by two severe storms in less than 24 hours

LJUBLJANA - After a fierce storm swept through Slovenia Tuesday evening, even more violent weather hit virtually the entire country Wednesday afternoon. Reportedly, a 32-year-old foreign national, a woman, was killed by a downed tree in Bled, while a man, also a foreign national, was severely injured and airlifted to a hospital. A lightning strike injured two foreign nationals at a campsite near Mozirje, their injuries reportedly not severe. Roofs were ripped off and trees downed across the entire country on Tuesday and today, while hail the size of tennis balls fell in the south today. Several hundred people were evacuated both days, many of them children in summer camps. Thousands were left without power.

National Security Council discusses Slovenia's role in UN Security Council

LJUBLJANA - The National Security Council got acquainted with the crisis situations on the agenda of the UN Security Council and to be addressed by Slovenia during its non-permanent membership. It proposed Slovenia focus in particular on climate change and the water crisis, conflict prevention and the protection of civilians and the most vulnerable. The council moreover called for Slovenia to use its membership to help strengthen the role of women and the honouring of international law, said Andrej Benedejčič, the state secretary for national and international security in the prime minister's office.

Two RTV Slovenija board members named

LJUBLJANA - Simon Kardum, director of the Kino Šiška urban culture centre, and Andrej Trček, a jurist at the Slovenian broadcaster's legal department, have been appointed members of the new management board of RTV Slovenija by the broadcaster's council. They will be joining chairman Zvezdan Martič, who was appointed last week under legislation that reformed the governance of Slovenia's biggest media outlet. Both new board members were put forward by Martič and endorsed by 12 members of the 17-strong council. No councillor voted against.

Minister positive about open procedures over Bosnian power plant

NOVA GORICA - Energy Minister Bojan Kumer hailed the Belgrade arbitral tribunal's decision to award Slovenia's energy group HSE damages, saying it augurs well for other procedures related to the long-running dispute stemming from Slovenia's investment in a Bosnian power plant in the 1980s. Apart from launching arbitration against the company RiTE Ugljevik in Belgrade, Slovenia also took Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Washington International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) a decade ago, with Slovenia claiming EUR 680 million in principle, which has now increased to over EUR 1 billion along with interest.

ESA happy with Slovenia's progress towards full membership

LJUBLJANA - A delegation of the European Space Agency (ESA) has visited Slovenia to review the situation in the space industry and the country's progress before the vote on its full ESA membership is held in December 2024. The delegation has commended achievements the country has made so far, since becoming an associate member in 2016. "Slovenia may be small in terms of geography, but its achievements in space technology and space are big," said Geraldine Naja, director of procurement, industry and competitiveness at the ESA.

First EU support funds for transition of coal regions available soon

LJUBLJANA - The Cohesion and Regional Development Ministry will roll out on Friday the first call for applications for EU-provided support in the climate transition of the Slovenian coal regions of Savinjsko-Šaleška and Zasavje. The first call, worth EUR 7.6 million in what is a EUR 258 million support scheme under the Just Transition Fund (JTF), is meant for the municipalities of Zagorje, Trbovlje and Hrastnik, all located in the Zasavje region, where coal mining was abandoned a few years ago. The municipalities will be able to receive support for the development of economic and business infrastructure.

Equality ombudsman makes recommendations for changes to mental health act

LJUBLJANA - The Advocate of the Principle of Equality presented to the National Assembly recommendations on how to amend the Mental Health Act so that its provisions would be in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with regards to the right of self-determination of those with mental disabilities. In the recommendations, Ombudsman Miha Lobnik said that people with mental or intellectual disabilities have the right to self-determination and pointed out that the proposed changes to the act, which are currently in the parliamentary procedure, do not sufficiently take this fact into account.

Govt given 57 recommendations to prevent hate speech

LJUBLJANA - A body advising the government on the combat against hate speech has issued 57 recommendations, calling for measures in politics, the education system, media, online and in criminal law. They call on the government to adopt an inclusive and uniform approach in setting out hate speech policies, communicate clearly in all stages of implementation of measures and to provide the necessary staffing and financial support for the measures. The government is also urged to respond fast to all cases of hate speech consistently and with unequivocal condemnation.

Slovenia and Israel mark friendship day

METLIKA - Slovenia-Israeli Friendship Day was marked in Metlika, the ceremony a reminder of a shared fight against Nazism and Fascism, also commemorating Hannah Szenes, who parachuted into Bela Krajina in 1944 and was later captured, tortured and executed by Nazi-occupied Hungary. Addressing the event, President Nataša Pirc Musar noted that Slovenia and Israel can look back on 30 years of diplomatic relations and had established a regular political dialogue at all levels. Israeli Ambassador Ze'ev Boker said that the friendship between the nations was strong and based on trust, support and long-term cooperation, the same values that formed a strong bond between Jewish parachuters and Slovenian Partisans.

Slovenian police helping Croatian officers during tourist season

LJUBLJANA - As numerous Slovenians spend their summer holidays on the Croatian coast, the Slovenian police has sent three officers to Croatia to help their counterparts for a month in procedures with Slovenian tourists in the city of Pula and on the islands of Krk and Pag. Such cooperation improves communication with Slovenian tourists, shortens police procedures and keeps Slovenian tourists safer, the Slovenian police said. Slovenia is one of a total of 19 countries taking part in the Safe Tourist Destination 2023 project.

MovieMaker magazine ranks Grossmann film festival among world's 25 coolest

LJUTOMER/NEW YORK, US - The Grossmann Festival of Fantastic Film and Wine has made the top 25 list of the coolest film festivals released annually by MovieMaker, a popular film-making magazine with a special focus on independent film. The list also includes the Anchorage International Film, the Atlanta Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival, the Champs-Elysees Film Festival, the Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival, among others.

Prešeren Prize laureate Gvardjančič with new exhibition in Škofja Loka

LJUBLJANA - A new exhibition by the latest Prešeren Prize laureate Herman Gvardjančič opened at the Ivan Grohar Gallery in Škofja Loka. Titled Slovenae 22: Kras, the drawings shed light on last year's devastating wildfires in the southwest of the country. In his new cycle of drawings, Gvardjančič, one of the most important representative of abstract expressionist art in Slovenia, continues the Slovenae art project he started in the 1980s. Topic-wise its more closely related to a cycle he created several years ago when wildfires broke out in Australia, the Škofja Loka Museum said

Ljubljana club advances in Champions League qualifying

RIGA, Latvia - Slovenia's football champions Olimpija defeated Latvia's Valmiera 2:1 to advance to the second round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League on a aggregate score of 4:2.

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