News roundup - Friday, 23 February, until 3pm

Ljubljana, 23 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 23 February, until 3pm local time:

President calls European Parliament election for 9 June

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar signed a decree that calls for the election of Slovenian members of the European Parliament to be held on 9 June. Candidates will be able to submit bids and begin the campaign on 11 March. Pirc Musar said as she addressed the press on the occasion that the responsibility of the citizens is to attend the election in the largest possible number. She will advocate this in the coming months by hosting talks and visiting schools and other institutions. She also called on the voters to get informed about the EU and be cautious of fake news campaigns.

Ambassadors endorsed for Beijing, London, Paris, Madrid, report says

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed last week a first batch of ambassadors that will be posted around the globe this year, among them several close aides of FM Tanja Fajon, and Boštjan Malovrh, head of mission to the UN in New York, who is slated to go to China, according to the news portal N1, which cites unofficial information. Among Fajon's closest aides to be posted abroad is Foreign Ministry State Secretary Sanja Štiglic, who is to become ambassador to the UK. The Foreign Ministry's secretary general Renata Cvelbar Bek is said to be going to Paris, and Fajon's chief of staff Aleš Balut to Prague.

Pirc Musar urges suspension of doctors' strike

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar called for suspension of what has been the longest strike of doctors in the history of the country. There has been enough power play at the expense of patients, she said, while calling on the government, which has reneged on promises to doctors, to speed up the public sector pay reform. "There is no more room for pretence, the continuation of strike activities will endanger the health of numerous patients," the president asserted. The Fides trade union of doctors and dentists said in response that the strike is their constitutional right and legitimate.

Slovenian officials underline pivotal role of UNRWA, urge ceasefire

NEW YORK - As Slovenia heeded on Thursday calls to provide funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the country's officials stressed in New York the agency's invaluable role in Gaza. "I'm pleased that the government has accepted a new financial aid package that is in line with our capabilities," FM Tanja Fajon said about the decision to provide EUR 500,000 to UNRWA and to also send material aid, estimated at EUR 434,105, to the Palestinian civil population. Representative in the UN Security Council Samuel Žbogar meanwhile warned that "disaster also looms over the Security Council", which has so far failed to unite in calling for a ceasefire.

President asserts Ukraine must have equal say in war outcome

LJUBLJANA - Addressing an event for the diplomatic corps ahead of the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine, President Nataša Pirc Musar said that a war outcome in which Ukraine would not have an equal say must not be acceptable to the international community. In light of the second anniversary of the war, she pointed out that Ukraine's territorial integrity continues to be violated. "International law and with it the UN Charter are being brutally trampled on," the commander-in-chief of the Slovenian Armed Forces said. She stressed that Ukraine will also need help after the weapons fall silent.

Survey shows 60% Slovenians expect to use AI for work in next decade

LJUBLJANA - A survey conducted by two University of Ljubljana schools has shown that more than 60% of respondents believe they will use artificial intelligence technologies in their work in the next ten years. Nearly half of those polled believe that AI technologies will have a positive impact on the employees in their industry. The survey has shown that three-quarters of respondents are familiar with the term artificial intelligence. Some 40% identified themselves as users of AI technologies, with the share slightly higher amongst men, the Digital Transformation Ministry announced.

Business sentiment worsens slightly in February

LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia worsened slightly in February, decreasing by 0.1 percentage points to -3.3 points. In yearly comparison the business sentiment has deteriorated by 1.9 percentage points, shows data from the Statistics Office. Compared to January, the outlook worsened in manufacturing (-0.8 points), retail and construction (both -0.3 points), while trust among consumers also decreased (-0.2 points). The service sector was the only one where sentiment improved, increasing by 1.5 points.

Planica to also host women's Ski Jumping World Cup finale

PLANICA - Planica has traditionally been the venue of the March finale of the men's Ski Jumping World Cup, but this year it will for the first time also wrap up the season of the women ski jumpers. The news comes after a successful last-ditch effort by Slovenian sports officials in the face of the immense success and popularity of Slovenia's women jumpers. The event, which will very likely see Slovenia's Nika Prevc vying for overall World Cup victory, has been added to the original World Cup schedule, and will take place on 21 March on Planica's normal hill, at 5pm under floodlights.

Slovenian artist Boris Jesih dies

LJUBLJANA - Painter and litographer Boris Jesih, one of the pioneers of Slovenian pop art who later changed his style and focused on portraying misty landscapes, has died, aged 80, public broadcaster RTV Slovenija reported. Born in 1943 in Škofja Loka, Jesih graduated from the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts in 1966 and perfected his graphic art skills in Berlin. He worked as an art professor at the Pedagogical Faculty in Ljubljana until 2009. He was featured at various biennials of graphic arts at home and abroad and won several Slovenian and international awards, including the Rihard Jakopič Prize.

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