News roundup - Friday, 15 March

Ljubljana, 15 March - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 15 March:

PM insists reform of entire public sector pay system the only solution

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob insists the strike demands in the public sector will be resolved in the framework of sector-wide talks rather than in talks with individual professional groups, as he appeared on late-night news shows on TV Slovenija and POP TV on Thursday. The only solution for the doctors' strike and all other strikes is to continue negotiating with all public sector trade unions. "An agreement in healthcare can only be achieved if we reach an agreement with everyone," he said.

Metsola and Scholz to visit Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - European Parliament President Roberta Metsola will visit on 25 and 26 March to meet Slovenia's senior officials and address parliament. Metsola, visiting ahead of the EU elections, is to meet National Assembly President Urška Klakočar Zupančič, President Nataša Pirc Musar and PM Robert Golob. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will, according to unofficial information, visit at the same time. He is to be hosted by Golob and accompanied by several ministers. Economic cooperation and coopertaion in military industry are said to be on the agenda.

Polish president to visit Slovenia next week

LJUBLJANA - Polish President Andrzej Duda will visit Slovenia on Wednesday to meet President Nataša Pirc Musar, PM Robert Golob, National Assembly President Urška Klakočar Zupančič and National Council President Marko Lotrič. The aim of the visit is to strengthen political dialogue and economic cooperation, and exchange views on topical EU and foreign policy issues, said the president's office. Duda and Pirc Musar will also attend a Slovenian-Polish business forum on Thursday.

Govt, farmers making headway, protest still on for now

LJUBLJANA - The government and farmers managed to make some headway in today's talks. Farmers expressed satisfaction with some of the government's proposals to address their demands, but they will study them over the weekend and then decide whether to call off a massive protest planned for Tuesday in Ljubljana. Agriculture Minister Mateja Čalušić told the press after the meeting that the government had addressed all seven demands.

Several Left members leave party, Vrečko expects more exits

LJUBLJANA - Several Left members quit the party arguing in a long letter that it has forgotten about its roots after joining the government coalition in mid-2022. The letter signed by 23 individuals also accuses the Left, especially its leadership, of "collaborating with the interests of capital". Left leader Asta Vrečko, culture minister, said the exits were expected and that more would follow in relation to the faction led my MP Miha Kordiš, who represents the most radical part of the membership.

Petrol returns to profit in 2023

LJUBLJANA - Energy group Petrol posted a net profit of EUR 137 million for 2023 after having reported a small loss in 2022. Revenue declined by 26% to just shy of EUR 7 billion, largely due to lower prices of fuel and other energy commodities, show unaudited results. Earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) nearly tripled to EUR 277 million. The group sold 3.8 million tonnes of fuels, an 8% drop compared to 2022, while the sales of merchandise and services rose by 10% to EUR 571 million.

MPs call for diligence in railway projects, wariness of collusion

LJUBLJANA - The infrastructure and finance committees discussed the rising costs of major infrastructure projects at the request of the opposition Democrats (SDS), deciding to call on the state to be diligent in drafting projects and initiate proceedings in the event of suspected corruption or collusion of bidders. Requesting the joint session of the two parliamentary bodies, the SDS noted the sharp increases in the costs of the projects to renovate the railway stations in Jesenice, Ljubljana and Nova Gorica, as well as of certain railway line sections. Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said the costs of railway projects were also increasing abroad. "We don't like it, but apparently this investment boom in railway infrastructure in Europe is resulting in higher prices."

Oncology Institute doctors demand immediate action from govt

LJUBLJANA - A number of doctors from the Ljubljana Oncology Institute, the largest of the only two cancer treatment centres in Slovenia, addressed an open letter to the government, demanding that it start addressing issues in healthcare immediately. The consequences of inaction are serious and detrimental to current and future patients, they warned.

Ruling party wants referendum on preferential vote, hemp

LJUBLJANA - The Freedom Movement presented proposals for consultative referendums on changes to election legislation to introduce a preferential vote in the general election and on the cultivation, processing, trade and use of hemp for medical purposes. Its MPs said the changes to election legislation would increase the influence of voters in deciding which candidate would be elected. There are now four proposals for referendums in parliament, also on assisted dying and on nuclear energy.

Consortium set up for hydrogen demo projects

LJUBLJANA - 18 Slovenian companies, organisation and municipalities formed a consortium to create an ecosystem for hydrogen from low-carbon sources, a step toward attracting a Japanese partner to vie for funding from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), Japan's agency. The goal is to set up hydrogen ecosystem demo projects, for which the Slovenian consortium would make available infrastructure, but it needs a partner with hydrogen equipment production capabilities.

Gas key energy source in green transition, conference hears

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Natural gas will play a key role in the green transition of the energy sector, heard the annual gas conference for SE Europe hosted by Slovenia's largest gas wholesaler Geoplin and the European gas association Eurogas. In Slovenia, demand for gas will remain stable until 2040, even growing until 2035, said Geoplin director Matija Bitenc. Slovenia's MEP Franc Bogovič (EPP) said natural gas is a key player in a fair and competitive transition in the energy sector.

Radwaste agency not leaving Krško

KRŠKO - The Agency for Radioactive Waste Management will not move from Krško to Ljubljana as the locals feared. While its formal address will change to Ljubljana, everything else will remain the same, the agency's director Sandi Viršek told the press. The statement comes after locals protested aganist the change of headquarters under amendments to the agency's articles of association that the government adopted last week. The locals decried the changes as a "silent reorganisation" and "creeping centralisation of government".

Slovenia, Croatia with first joint border control campaign this year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian and Croatian police have carried out "coordinated stricter control" of the border between the two countries from Wednesday until Friday to prevent and detect unlawful crossings of the border. So far, 299 such crossings have been detected on both sides of the border and seven smugglers apprehended as part of the campaign. Peter Skerbiš, head of the border police sector of the Uniformed Police Administration, said at a press conference, the campaign focussed o the parts of the border where the most unlawful crossings of the border are usually detected.

SDS proposes changes to post-flood emergency legislation

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) filed to parliament changes to two laws introducing post-flood measures. Changes to the first law expand eligibility to compensation to those whose real estate was under construction during flooding and the second abolish fast-track procedure for expropriation.

Three bombs to be deactivated in Nova Gorica on Sunday

NOVA GORICA - Three aerial bombs that were recently discovered in Nova Gorica will be deactivated on Sunday, one of them requiring detonation at the site. Nearby residents will be evacuated for the duration of the operation and movement will be restricted. The three bombs were discovered during construction works near the Nova Gorica train station by the UXO unit. Last summer, a bomb was discovered close to the same site.

Child survives 20-metre plunge into gorge

BOHINJ - A family trip to the gorge of the Mostnica in the northwest turned sour as a child plunged 20 metres deep into the river this afternoon, while the father jumped to their rescue. Both survived but were taken to hospital in Ljubljana as they showed signes of severe hypothermia and were gravely injured, the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief said.

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