Weekly review of events involving Slovenia, 26 January to 1 February

Ljubljana, 2 February - Below is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia from 26 January to 1 February:

FRIDAY, 26 January

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia welcomed the decision by the International Court of Justice that ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon expects the decision to be implemented without delay, saying the court sent "a clear message to Israel that it must stop the killing of civilians in Gaza at once".

LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry confirmed a media report that Slovenia refused to allow arms exports to Israel. An undisclosed Slovenian company was denied an export licence based on the defence law, which stipulates such refusal when exports would escalate or allow conflicts in the country that is the end-user of the exported arms.

LJUBLJANA - MPs of the ruling coalition tabled a bill to overhaul the referendum legislation that was enshrined in the Constitution in 2013. The changes, which were applied to the eight popular votes held since then without a legislative basis, include the "rejective referendum" model requiring a rejection quorum.

TRIESTE, Italy - A memorial to the anti-fascist group TIGR near the Italian city of Trieste was desecrated with a black bundle, a symbol of Fascism, while part of the inscription was erased. The association TIGR Primorska said this is at least the third time the memorial has been vandalised.

SATURDAY, 27 January

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry expressed concern about allegations that several staffers of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) played a role in Hamas's 7 October attack on Israel. It called on the UNRWA to conduct a thorough investigation and take a firm stand against all forms of hatred or violence.

KULM, Austria - Slovenian ski jumper Timi Zajc took bronze at the Ski Flying World Championships at the Kulm venue in Austria. He topped the ranking after the first two rounds, but failed to clinch victory in the third round, which was the last due to windy conditions.

SUNDAY, 28 January

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said she is following with concern a rise in the far-right across Europe as she addressed a commemoration marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. She stressed that the best way to remember the victims of Holocaust and of shelling in Gaza is by "finding a way to peace".

KULM, Austria - Slovenian ski jumpers Lovro Kos, Peter Prevc, Domen Prevc and Timi Zajc scored a convincing win in the team event at the Ski Flying World Championships, defending the championship title from Vikersund two years ago ahead of Austria and Germany.

LJUBNO OB SAVINJI - Slovenian ski jumper Nika Prevc won the World Cup event in Ljubno pri Savinji to become Slovenia's most successful female jumper in history. This is the sixth individual World Cup victory for 18-year-old Prevc this season and in her career, and her ninth World Cup podium result.

MONDAY, 29 January

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob announced the withdrawal from the reform energy bill of a provision that would ban biomass boilers as the primary heating source in new buildings, after the government faced severe backlash and the opposition made this a centrepiece of its EU election campaign. The next day the government nearly doubled the fund subsidising the replacement of old boilers.

LJUBLJANA - The Social Democrats (SD) called on Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan, one of their four ministers, to resign over the contentious purchase of a possibly overpriced building meant to be renovated to house several Ljubljana-based courts. Party leader Tanja Fajon said Švarc Pipan was ultimately responsible for the purchase as minister.

LJUBLJANA - Clerks at 41 out of the country's 58 administrative units went on strike demanding higher pay by seven brackets, and more staff to cope with a surging number of cases, especially the processing of foreigners. While 26 units, including in Ljubljana and Maribor, stopped work for three days, the remaining 15 only went on strike for one day.

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will continue to call for peace in Gaza and condemn the violations of international law, PM Robert Golob said in response to a question by an MP. Golob believes a permanent solution for the Middle East has to be found. "Our key orientation at the moment is working through the Security Council."

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia, Germany and another six countries presented at the EU's General Affairs Council an initiative for more effective decision-making on EU enlargement. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Marko Štucin said they want decisions on opening individual sets of chapters in accession talks to no longer require consensus but only qualified majority.

VIENNA, Austria - Slovenian composer Nina Šenk won this year's Erste Bank Kompositionspreis. Conferred by the Austrian bank Erste Bank since 1989, it is considered one of the most prestigious awards in contemporary music honouring the winners' creative work to date.

TUESDAY, 30 January

LJUBLJANA - The leaders of all five parliamentary parties agreed at a meeting convened by PM Robert Golob to hold a referendum on expansion of the Krško nuclear power station by the end of the year. Golob said all five parties agreed to work together to form a question on Krško 2 that will be put to a vote.

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia joined UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres's call for countries to continue funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Foreign Ministry said that freezing funds would jeopardise the agency and put at risk the lives of Palestinians in the Middle East.

LJUBLJANA - An estimated half of all doctors decided to withdraw consent for overtime work as part of their ongoing strike, meaning they plan to work a maximum of 48 hours per week, their trade union Fides said. The move, which is largely to kick in in March, is likely to bring the health system to its knees.

LJUBLJANA - The Association of Judges decided they will no longer scale back their work as part of their protest over the government's failure to implement a Constitutional Court ruling on judicial pay, but they do intend to continue with their protest assemblies at courts. The first such assembly will take place on 7 February.

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia scored 56 out of 100 points on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 2023, keeping the same score as in 2022, said Transparency International (TI) Slovenia. The country lost one spot compared to 2022 and ranked 42nd. Slovenia is lagging behind the EU average of 64 points, which according to TI Slovenia signifies insufficient efforts in corruption prevention.

WEDNESDAY, 31 January

LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan refused to heed calls from her party, the Social Democrats (SD), to resign. While taking ultimate responsibility for the purchase of an allegedly overpriced building for courts, she accused ministry employees and members of her party of colluding to make unlawful gains. The SD urged the prime minister to sack her, but Golob said he would take time to clarify all details of the deal.

LJUBLJANA - New Slovenia (NSi) requested a consultative referendum on the reform energy bill. It said the legislation would have such an impact on people's lives the voters should be given a say. The move means that the debate on the energy bill, currently in first reading, will be suspended until MPs have voted on the referendum motion.

LJUBLJANA - Prosecutors suspended work for several hours in protest at the government's refusal to raise their pay. They said no one on the government side was involved in talks with them, which is why they plan to continue their strike but no sooner than after 14 days. Their struggle is not about higher pay but about a fair system, they added.

LJUBLJANA - Coalition MPs and cabinet members met to evaluate the work carried out in the past year and make plans for this year. The work of the government will be more predictable this year, and better organised, but the specifics will not be presented to the public, Deputy Prime Minister and Labour Minister Luka Mesec said.

LJUBLJANA - The government decided that up to 15 Slovenian troops will join the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP), with the possibility of rotation. The move comes a day after the UN Security Council extended the mission, including with Slovenia's vote, until 31 January 2025.

THURSDAY, 1 January

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Robert Golob said Slovenia was pleased with the EUR 50 billion Ukraine aid deal that EU leaders reached. He welcomed the provision that a debate on the implementation of the aid instrument would be conducted every year, while refusing to comment on what, if anything, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban received in exchange for finally backing the deal.

LJUBLJANA - Coalition MPs urged the Health Ministry to review whether there was still a valid legal basis that allowed doctors in public healthcare to work for private providers, after reports emerged that doctors on strike referred their patients to private practices they work for. They have also decided to start revoking their consents to work overtime.

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Robert Golob refrained from heeding a call by the Social Democrats to sack Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan. He said he had asked the SD and Švarc Pipan for additional explanations and would make a decision once he has heard both sides.

LJUBLJANA - Subscription started of a EUR 250 million, three-year bond reserved for domestic retail investors. Individuals can buy the bonds at 249 subscription points across the country. Individuals aged at least 18 with a permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia are eligible.

© STA, 2024