Weekly review of events involving Slovenia, 13-19 October

Ljubljana, 20 October - Below is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia from 13 to 19 October.

FRIDAY, 13 October

LJUBLJANA - Valentina Prevolnik Rupel, a state secretary at the Health Ministry, was appointed health minister in a 48:17 vote. She stressed better access to healthcare, high-quality services, a reform of the basket of services, and patients who don't have a named GP as her priorities, but sidelined sweeping reform in favour of smaller improvements.

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly dismissed in a 49:1 vote Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko upon Prime Minister Robert Golob's proposal. Golob sacked Šinko because she defended the national veterinary administration against accusations that it failed to notify consumers of produce containing excessive levels of pesticide instead of siding with consumers.

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon expressed concern over Israel's order to evacuate 1.1 million people from northern Gaza. Fajon joined the UN in calling on Israel to consider rescinding the order, while Pirc Musar noted that international law prohibits collective punishment of civilians.

MARAKESH, Morocco - A Slovenian delegation led by Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič discussed with IMF representatives the global economic situation at a time of intertwining crises. The talks about Slovenia focused on the government's post-flood measures and their impact on public finances, Boštjančič said.

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a new programme of tapping into the funds of the Climate Fund which sets aside more than EUR 850 million for priority measures over the next three years. The emphasis will be on efforts to decarbonise buildings and transport and guarantee up to EUR 270 million for adjusting to climate change.

LJUBLJANA - Physicist Danilo Zavrtanik and mathematician Joso Vukman are the winners of this year's Zois Prizes for lifetime achievement in science and research. Mechanical engineer Jože Vižintin received the Puh Prize for lifetime achievement for his contribution to Slovenia's economic and social development.

SATURDAY, 14 October

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia completed a key step towards securing a berth in the Euro 2024 as they defeated Finland 3:0 (2:0) in the seventh round of qualifying. With two goals by Benjamin Šeško and the first national team goal by Erik Janža Slovenia ascended to the of Group H rankings.

SUNDAY, 15 October

LJUBLJANA - Acclaimed Austrian translator Ludwig Hartinger is the recipient of the Fabjan Hafner Prize for best translation from Slovenian into German over the past three years, which is given out by the Goethe-Institut Ljubljana. The jury said that in his translation the poems sound as they were originals.

MONDAY, 16 October

TIRANA, Albania - President Nataša Pirc Musar said EU enlargement must not be just one political possibility, but a geostrategic necessity, as she attended a summit of the Berlin Process. She noted the issue of young people leaving the Western Balkans and signed an agreement to establish a regional Western Balkans Cyber Capacity Centre.

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob stressed during Q&A time in parliament the need to protect civilians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While rejecting an opposition call to take a stance on the Israel-condemning position of the junior coalition Left and NGOs, he urged against attempts to score internal political points on the backs of victims.

LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council, which oversees compliance with domestic and EU fiscal rules, has designated the government's fiscal policy as inappropriate since the budgets for 2024 and 2025 are expansionary and pro-cyclical at a time when the European Central Bank is tightening monetary policy to combat inflation.

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed at a correspondence session on Monday evening Eva Knez and Blaž Germšek state secretaries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food after Darij Krajčič and Tatjana Buzeti were dismissed along with Minister Irena Šinko.

LJUBLJANA - The deficit in the healthcare budget, which is expected to be created when top-up health insurance changes into a mandatory contribution in 2024 will be covered directly from the state budget, Prime Minister Robert Golob announced. The public health insurer ZZZS estimates the deficit will be EUR 140 million.

FRANKFURT, Germany/LJUBLJANA - Culture Minister Asta Vrečko described as misguided a statement by Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos about the fair "standing with complete solidarity on the side of Israel" and the decision to postpone a Palestinian author's award ceremony. She said that "culture and the arts must never be subjected to exploitation for political purposes and the creation of new divisions".

TUESDAY, 17 October

FRANKFURT, Germany - The 75th Frankfurt Book Fair got under way with Slovenia as the guest of honour. The opening ceremony saw Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar with internationally acclaimed philosopher Slavoj Žižek and poet Miljana Cunta addressing the event.

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Slovenia expects to get around EUR 600 million from the Recovery and Resilience Facility by the end of the year, Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič told the press before meeting his EU counterparts at a ministerial. Part of the funds will go for the country's post-flood reconstruction, foremost flood safety.

LJUBLJANA - The government unveiled a draft climate bill, a major piece of legislation that outlines Slovenia's path to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The Environment, Climate and Energy Ministry said that its purpose was to establish a legislative framework to adopt and implement policies and measures to achieve goals in the treaties relating to climate change. Environmentalists welcomed the bill.

LJUBLJANA - The council of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija endorsed Ksenija Horvat as TV Slovenija director, Mirko Štular as director of Radio Slovenija, while Kaja Jakopič was given the green light as digital content director, in a move that rounds off senior appointments in line with the RTV Slovenija legislation amended last year.

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Slovenia defeated Northern Ireland 1:0 in Belfast to climb one step closer to Euro 2024 appearance in the eighth round of qualifications. Two more matches await the Slovenian team in November, when Slovenia will first face Denmark in an away game and then Kazakhstan at home.

WEDNESDAY, 18 October

LJUBLJANA - A government counter-terrorism task force raised the level of terrorist threat in Slovenia from low to medium "due to the current heightened security situation in Europe and the Middle East and calls to carry out terrorist acts." It said there was no information about terrorist threats to Slovenia but "cannot rule out possible incidents."

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia condemned Israel's bombing of a hospital in Gaza that is believed to have claimed hundreds of lives. Prime Minister Robert Golob and the Foreign Ministry said they were "shocked" by the news as they warned that hospitals may never be targeted, President Nataša Pirc Musar described the bombing as "absolutely horrifying".

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed in a 50:33 vote a bill granting amnesty for fines people received for breach of Covid rules during the pandemic, in what was a re-vote after the upper chamber vetoed it at the end of September. Amnesty for Covid fines had been one of the main pledges by the government when it took office last year

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed in a 61:25 vote a decision to start changing the constitution to transfer judicial appointments from parliament onto the Slovenian president, and change the make-up of the Judicial Council, which vets the candidates.

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the Animal Protection Act and the law governing the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry (KGZS) in a revote after the bills were vetoed by the upper chamber. Unhappy with the new rules, farmers have announced a constitutional challenge to the amended animal protection law.

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed in secret ballot Miša Zgonec Rožej to be Slovenia's member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague for another six-year term, having served since late 2017. Zgonec Rožej was the only candidate to apply for the post in a call published by the Justice Ministry.

THURSDAY, 19 October

LJUBLJANA - The government decided Slovenia will introduce police checks at the borders with Croatia and Hungary on 21 October for at least ten days, citing heightened security risks due to organised crime and the escalation of tensions in the Middle East. The decision comes after Italy announced the same measure at the border with Slovenia.

LJUBLJANA - The government extended energy price regulation to help households reduce the costs in 2024. The measure capping electricity prices will apply to 90% of consumption in the entire 2024, resulting in a projected average bill increase of under 4%, while the gas price cap will be in place during the heating season, until the end of April.

LJUBLJANA - A day after trade unions declared that talks on labour legislation had failed, the government adopted changes to the Employment Relationships Act. Following speculation that the changes would be employer-centric, it turned out they were in fact union-friendly. Employers declared social dialogue dead.

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted changes to the Foreigners Act that lowers the requirement of Slovenian language skills in the procedure to extend a temporary residence permit due to family reunion for family members of third-country nationals from the entry level A1 to "survival level".

LJUBLJANA - Several hundred people gathered in Ljubljana city centre to show support for the Palestinian people, calling for an end to the violence in the Middle East. They were critical of the international community for rushing to support Israel, and commemorated nearly 3,800 Palestinian victims with a minute of silence.

© STA, 2023