News roundup - Friday, 23 February

Ljubljana, 23 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 23 February:

Slovenia stresses right of Palestinians to self-determination

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Slovenia stressed the right of Palestinians to self-determination as it appeared in the International Court of Justice in The Hague to present its stance as part of proceedings the UN General Assembly started in December 2022 about Israel's controversial actions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since 1967. The country also highlighted Israel's obligations to respect international law as an occupying force and urged a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Fajon calls for peace in Ukraine at the UN General Assembly

NEW YORK, US - Although it sometimes seems impossible, peace will return to Ukraine one day, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon told the UN General Assembly on the eve of the second anniversary of the Russian invasion. The international community can contribute to this by supporting the peace process emerging from the Ukrainian peace formula, she said. The minister stressed the importance of respecting international law and ensuring accountability for crimes, which she said the international community could do through a special court for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

Slovenian officials underline pivotal role of UNRWA, urge ceasefire

NEW YORK, US - As Slovenia heeded on Thursday calls to provide funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (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.

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.

President to visit Bulgaria next week

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar will visit Bulgaria next week, accompanied by a strong business delegation, the president's office said. Pirc Musar will meet with her Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev and Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov on Tuesday. Pirc Musar and Radev will discuss bilateral relations between the countries, the EU enlargement and the war in Ukraine and in the Middle East. The presidents will also talk about migrations and Bulgaria and Romania joining the Schengen zone.

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.

PM Golob, President Pirc Musar urge doctors to immediately end strike

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob urged doctors to immediately end the strike they started on 15 January, and return to the negotiating table as part of talks on the entire healthcare sector, not just doctors, in a bid to stop the agony of patients in the public healthcare system. President Nataša Pirc Musar also 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. The Fides trade union of doctors and dentists said in response that the strike is their constitutional right and legitimate.

Disabled have hard time extending driving licence during doctors' strike

LJUBLJANA - The Advocate of the Principle of Equality has urged authorities to provide unlimited access to the only clinic in the country where disabled persons can get tested before they can have their driving licence extended. The clinic's working hours are limited due to the doctors' strike, which started nearly seven weeks ago. The clinic is located at the Soča University Rehabilitation Institute in Ljubljana, which the equality advocate urged to keep it open as was before the strike. The limited hours make it impossible for many disabled aged 18 to 65 to extend their driving licence or obtain it for the first time.

EU election debate hears low turnout a challenge

LJUBLJANA - A debate held at the EU House in Ljubljana highlighted that it will be challenging to increase voter turnout in the upcoming European Parliament election in Slovenia. The share of voters who will go to the polls in June might be higher than in previous EU elections though. EU election turnout in Slovenia is considerably lower than the turnout recorded in general elections, heard the debate 100 Days Until the European Elections.

Investors get their domestic retail bonds

LJUBLJANA - Investors received domestic retail bonds they purchased in what was a recent major government issue, as the bonds appeared in their trading accounts today. They are expected to be able to trade them starting on Tuesday. A total of 9,352 physical persons subscribed for the bonds, of whom 5,659 opened up new trading accounts. The most frequent subscription was for bonds between EUR 11,000 and EUR 30,000, of which 5,262 were subscribed.

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.

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.

Public broadcaster RTV Slovenija in the red last year

LJUBLJANA - The public broadcaster RTV Slovenija posted a revenue of EUR 139.7 million in 2023, while total expenditure reached EUR 146.7 million, which means a deficit of almost EUR 7 million, shows the financial report, which the broadcaster's council will discuss on Wednesday. The negative business result is a consequence of the public broadcaster licence fee remaining unchanged since 2012. The revenue from the license fees is no longer sufficient to cover all expenses, RTV Slovenija wrote, adding that in the last few years labour costs had increased significantly as a result of agreements between the government and public sector unions.

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 Faculty of Education 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.

Timi Zajc and Domen Prevc win super team event in Oberstdorf

OBERSTDORF, Germany - Slovenian ski jumpers Timi Zajc and Domen Prevc won a World Cup super team event in Oberstdorf, Germany, in what was the first ski flying event at the super team tournaments. They were in the lead from the first jump, and they won beating their rivals by at least 23.2 points. Their victory marks the second time Slovenia won such a World Cup event, as Lovro Kos and Anže Lanišek won the first men's super team event this season in Wisla, Poland, on 13 January.

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 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.

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