News roundup - Wednesday, 7 February

Ljubljana, 7 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 7 February:

Judges stage rallies to remind govt of top court ruling on wages

LJUBLJANA - One-hour rallies were held at Slovenian courts in what judges say is a protest in support of the rule of law, against the abuse of power and the government ignoring the judiciary, judges and legal order, in reference to the government's failure to implement a Constitutional Court decision on judges' salaries. The latest round of talks with Minister Švarc Pipan and Public Administration Minister Franc Props brought no results. Prosecutors too were disappointed after today's talks with the minister and said that they would decide on the continuation of their strike next week.

MPs want audit of controversial purchase of court building

LJUBLJANA - The Commission for Oversight of Public Finances discussed the Justice Ministry's controversial purchase of a building in Ljubljana, deciding to propose that the deal be audited by the Court of Audit and by the budget inspection sector of the Finance Ministry. The session had been requested by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), which wants explanations regarding the building that was supposed to house premises of the Administrative Court, the Labour and Social Court and the Higher Labour and Social Court.

SD will stay in government, Fajon says

LJUBLJANA - Head of Social Democrats (SD) Tanja Fajon met Prime Minister Robert Golob to discuss cooperation in the face of the controversial purchase of a building in Ljubljana, which swept away Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan, an SD member. Fajon and Golob agreed to continue to cooperate within the government. The talks come after Švarc Pipan offered her resignation on Monday evening over the contentious EUR 7.7 million transaction involving a dilapidated building on Litijska Road that was to be renovated to house several Ljubljana-based courts.

Left leader supports MPs in dispute with Kordiš

LJUBLJANA - Asta Vrečko, the leader of the Left, sided with four of the party's five MPs who have proposed that the fifth MP, Miha Kordiš, be excluded from all parliamentary working bodies for misconduct. But she also said today the party was yet to discuss this. "The accusations are serious and inadmissible," she said about claims that Kordiš pressured the remaining MPs into hiring an unqualified woman as an aide to the deputy group, using threats and extortion to achieve his goal.

Telekom shareholders to get dividend for 2022

LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije shareholders approved the management's proposal to pay out EUR 40.29 million in dividend for 2022, or EUR 6.20 gross per share. This is virtually the entire 2022 distributable profit, which the national telco opted not to pay out last year to avoid repayment of state aid it received during the energy crisis. Dividends will be paid out in two instalments, EUR 3.10 on 22 March and EUR 3.10 on 23 August. Nearly 79% of shareholders were represented and the dividend payout decision was adopted with 99.98% of the votes present.

Turks building Koper-Divača rail track to go on strike

LJUBLJANA - Workers of four subsidiaries of Turkish companies building the Koper-Divača rail track in south-west Slovenia will go on strike on 15 February, demanding payment of overtime since the start of the works on the project, and a 30% rise in their basic wages from 1 February, said the Slovenian Construction Workers' Trade Union. Workers at Yapi Merkezi, YM Construction, Yorpol and Türkcan also demand payment of the allowance for transport to remote construction sites; improvement of health and safety conditions; and better housing.

Minister highlights importance of integration of military into society

LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry hosted a public debate on three strategic defence documents that it recently unveiled. Slovenia has to adjust to the deteriorating security situation, said Defence Minister Marjan Šarec, noting that some key challenges will be staffing, technical equipment, and the integration of the military into society.

Government not planning to regulate heating prices for now

LJUBLJANA - Faced with calls for renewed price regulation after users of some district heating systems have started to protest against high prices, the government said this was not currently in the cards as such measures depend on the new energy act, which is currently bogged down in parliamentary procedure. The ministry also rejected the notion that the government could intervene in prices by financing emission coupons. It said this would run afoul of EU rules.

New ten-year education plan to improve literacy, digital skills

LJUBLJANA - The draft national education programme for 2023-2033, unveiled by the Education Ministry on Tuesday, looks to strengthen the educational role of kindergartens and schools, encourage reading literacy and introduce computer science earlier in the teaching process. It also includes measures for increasing interest in the teaching profession. Jože Vogrinc, the dean of the Ljubljana Faculty of Education, underlined the importance of involving parents and children in family literacy programmes and improving the role of writing and creating texts during classes.

Ground broken for new Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Ground was broken for a new Faculty of Medicine campus in Vraz Square, in what the University of Ljubljana said was financially one of its biggest investments. The EUR 84.4 million project is co-financed from the EU recovery and resilience facility and should be completed by 2026. Igor Švab, the faculty's dean, said this is a historic day.

Govt adopts illicit drugs action plan for 2024-2025

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an action plan on illicit drugs for 2024-2025 at the recommendation of the Health Ministry. The document prioritises preventive measures, raising awareness and healthcare and reintegration for drug users. It is based on the national programme on illicit drugs for 2023-2030, which aims to reduce and limit the damage that the use of illicit drugs causes to individuals, families and society.

Draft national culture programme until 2031 unveiled

LJUBLJANA - The Culture Ministry presented a draft National Culture Programme for 2024-2031 and an action plan for 2024-2027. Both documents see culture as a public good at the core of a society of solidarity and sustainability, Culture Minister Asta Vrečko said. The documents aim to improve working conditions, reduce precarious work and advocate for accessibility in culture.

Zasuk trade union gives out "alternative" Culture Day awards

LJUBLJANA - On the eve of Culture Day, the union of young artists Glosa - Zasuk organised an alternative cultural event giving out three "alternative" Prešeren Prizes to draw attention to what its members see as the biggest issues that should be addressed, while also criticising artists from the 1980s who fought for democratisation. Renata Zamida, director of the new Rog Centre in Ljubljana, received one of the awards for "successfully cutting production areas [at Rog] and taking part in the capital city's intensive touristification and gentrification".

Recently busted gang involved in large-scale drug trafficking

MARIBOR - A criminal organisation which was busted last week trafficked in cocaine, amphetamine and other illicit drugs, the police said. A four-year investigation culminated in police raids during which 20 suspects were arrested, of whom six currently remain in detention. Unofficially, a well-known criminal has been targetted as well. One of the suspects, who was allegedly supplying the illicit drugs, is reportedly Kristijan Kamenik, who had previously spent several years in prison on drug charges.

Dončić to play in Olympic qualifying tournament, if healthy

NEW YORK, US - Slovenian basketball superstar Luka Dončić has ended speculation regarding his participation for the Slovenian national team at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Greece in July, saying he will be available, barring an injury. Dončić, who is in New York with his Dallas Mavericks for the NBA games against the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks, spoke with Slovenian reporters on Tuesday evening to confirm his willingness to help Slovenia qualify for the Paris Olympics.

© STA, 2024