News roundup - Friday, 19 January

Ljubljana, 19 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 19 January:

SocDems have justice minister's back but await clarifications

LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan has the support of her SocDems for the time being, but party leader Tanja Fajon said "we will take firm action" in case it turns out that irregularities occurred in the ministry's acquisition of a building to house several courts in Ljubljana. "We all want to protect the public interest, together with the minister, but no one has a blank cheque with us in advance," Fajon said in her first substantive response to the allegedly mismanaged EUR 7.7 million acquisition.

NATO's largest drill to feature 200 Slovenian troops

LJUBLJANA - Steadfast Defender, the largest military drill conducted by NATO since the Cold War, will include 200 Slovenian troops among the 90,000 participating from 31 member states and Sweden, the Defence Ministry told the STA. Slovenian troops will be part of three exercises called Dragon 24, Cobra 24 and Black Swan 24, which will be taking place between the end of February and the end of March in Slovenia, Poland and Hungary.

Slovenia may accept arms as Serbian company's payment of claim

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is considering entering an agreement under which its several million euros-worth claim to a Serbian state-owned weapons manufacturer Jugoimport-SDPR would be settled by the company's supply of weapons and other military equipment. The government discussed this on Thursday and tasked the Defence Ministry with drafting a proposal to pursue this possibility.

Migrations top Poklular's agenda in Budapest

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Migrations topped the agenda as Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar held talks with his Hungarian counterpart Sandor Pinter. The focus was on preventing the work of organised criminal groups and cooperation with Western Balkan countries. Both ministers endorsed the work of of Europol, which supports efforts to fight migrant smuggling, and agreed that the organisation must have sufficient resources to provide such support in the future.

Experts in inquiry note importance of criteria in media funding

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary inquiry commission investigating suspected unlawful party financing interviewed journalism professor Marko Milosavljević and activist and researcher Domen Savič on Friday. The former noted the importance of criteria in the allocation of state funds to media, and the latter said these had not existed between 2020 and 2022. Both indicated funding was intentionally awarded to certain politically connected media.

Slovenian judges receive support from International Association of Judges

LJUBLJANA - President of the International Association of Judges Đuro Sessa expressed support to the ongoing protest of Slovenian judges over their pay. Judges' wages are an important aspect of their independence and judges have a duty to fight for this independence, Sessa said. "If judges are not economically independent, their reputation, their impartiality, their independence are called into question," he said.

Jobs outlook remains positive but less so than in 2023

LJUBLJANA - Around 56% of Slovenian employers plan to raise wages in the first half of the year and 46% expect to expand their workforce, shows the last survey by the employment company Manpower. The net hiring forecast for the first half of the year is meanwhile significantly lower than last year, at +42.41% compared to +54.49%. The most optimistic about hiring are employers in the transport and logistics, healthcare and pharma, and banking, finance and insurance sectors.

Geoenergo enters bankruptcy as court deflects move by Ascent Resources

MURSKA SOBOTA - The Murska Sobota District Court approved a bankruptcy application by Geoenergo, a Slovenian company that paired up with the UK's Ascent Resources to extract gas by controversial fracking in the northeast of the country. As Geoenergo's creditor and partner, Ascent Resources had asked the court to prevent the insolvency proceeding, arguing Geoenergo tried to abue insolvency legislation to avoid its claim. The court sided with Geoenergo.

Over a million clients exposed in Slovenian online retailer's data leak

LJUBLJANA - A research team of online portal Cybernews has discovered that Slovenian direct-to-consumers retailer DFVU, known for brands like S-mania, Layoners, Mazzaci, and RedLynx, left its customers' private data open, exposing 1.1 million individuals and company administrators. The researchers discovered the vulnerability in November immediately informed the company, which has since blocked access to the data.

Acclaimed architect Stanko Kristl dies

LJUBLJANA - Stanko Kristl, an award-winning architect who left a strong mark on Slovenian Modernist architecture in the second half of the 20th century, died aged 101 on Thursday, his family announced. Considered one of the key representatives of the golden generation of Slovenian Modernist architects, Kristl is perhaps best known for UKC Ljubljana. He received practically all major awards for architecture, and was elected a regular member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2011.

Banksy showcased at pop up gallery in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - An exhibition of works by world-renown street artist Banksy is on display at a pop up gallery in Ljubljana's Čopova Street. Set up by curator David Rjazancev, head of the Deva Puri Gallery, Banksy in Ljubljana also features copies of works by renown artists who have inspired Banksy, such as Picasso and Warhol. The exhibition showcases the diversity of Banksy's world, from his original prints to album covers, posters and his cooperation with The Simpsons project.

Slovenia hit with snowfall of up to 45cm

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw heavy snowfall in what was the first considerable shipment of snow this winter. Central and northern Slovenia got hit by 20-45 centimetres of snow. The first heavy snowfall this winter stirred up traffic disruptions, but the situation has mainly calmed down, with the worst-hit sections of the Dolenjska motorway in the south-east and the Štajerska motorway in the east no longer closed. The coming days will be mostly clear, according to the national weather service.

Slovenia practically out of contention for medals at Eurohandball

HAMBURG, Germany - Slovenia lost their second match in a row in the main round of the European Men's Handball Championship, having to concede to Sweden on Wednesday and Portugal on Friday. The team's chances of making it to the semi-finals are virtually gone, but they are still in contention for the fifth-place game.

Ski jumper Nika Prevc wins another World Cup event

ZAO, Japan - Slovenian ski jumper Nika Prevc (235.2 points) clinched her fifth victory in the current season of the women's World Cup as she won an event in Zao, Japan. The 18-year-old finished as many as 12.1 points ahead of Japan's Yuki Ito. Third place went to world champion Alexandria Loutitt from Canada (216.7 points), while Slovenia's Nika Križnar placed fourth, missing the podium by a mere half a point.

Accordionists from six countries playing in Avsenik's birth town

BEGUNJE NA GORENJSKEM - Fans of Slovenian pop folk music are in for a treat this weekend, as Begunje na Gorenjskem, the birth town of legendary accordion player and composer Slavko Avsenik, hosts the 17th international competition of accordion players vying for the Avsenik Prize. The competition, which is open for public, will be held at Avsenik Inn from today until Sunday, featuring 140 accordion players from Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

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