News roundup - Monday, 18 March

Ljubljana, 18 March - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 18 March:

Slovenia to contribute EUR 1m for ammunition for Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has joined a Czech-led initiative to buy artillery ammunition for Ukraine outside Europe, and the government will allocate EUR 1 million for this purpose, the Defence Ministry told the STA. According to the ministry's post on X, the government discussed the Czech initiative at its session last Thursday. The ministry did not provide any details to the STA, saying that the documents are confidential. Foreign media have reported that Ukraine would receive the first delivery by June.

FM Fajon says Putin is not Russia

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that protests by Russian opposition against Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected president this weekend, were proof that "Putin is not Russia and Russia is not Putin". "Thumbs up for brave and lively civil society bringing hope that idea of different, free and democratic Russia is still alive," Fajon said on X. The Foreign Ministry said that Slovenia does not recognise the results of the election in the regions Russia annexed from Ukraine.

Slovenia supports proposal on use of Russian assets to fund Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia supports the proposal to use part of the income from managing frozen Russian assets to fund weapons for Ukraine, said Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon at the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. According to unofficial information, the European Commission will present its proposal on this this week.

Fajon expresses support to sanctions against violent Israeli settlers, Hamas

Brussels, Belgium - As EU foreign ministers reached a political agreement on sanctions on Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank and new sanctions on Hamas members, Slovenia's Tanja Fajon expressed support to both, while condemning the spreading of illegal settlements and violence in the West Bank. Fajon also expressed support to both a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council and reviewing the EU-Israel trade agreement regarding Israel's complying with human rights obligations.

Debate hears EU should change its W Balkans strategy

LJUBLJANA - The EU needs to change its strategy on the Western Balkans, and enlargement into the region will require thinking outside the box, Slovenia's former President Borut Pahor, North Macedonia's former Defence Minister Radmila Šekerinska and former President of Serbia Boris Tadić agreed at a round table debate. The EU has lost credibility in the Western Balkans because it failed to deliver on its promises, Šekerinska and Tadić said at the event titled EU and the Western Balkans: 20 Years after the Big Bang Enlargement.

SDS wants public votes on new asylum centres and government

LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) tabled motions for two consultative referendums, on government plans for additional asylum centres in the country, and the performance of the Robert Golob government in general. MP Andrej Kosi said the party was giving voters the option of telling the government to end its term instead of "languishing slowly for a another two years". Neither proposal is likely to secure sufficient backing in parliament, as coalition parties were critical of the move.

Top court says legislation on Nazi symbols ban adequate

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court has rejected a petition in which a citizen asked it to declare Article 297 of the criminal code unconstitutional because it does not explicitly criminalise the Nazi salute and the public and private display of Nazi symbols. The court held that the existing legislation adequately addresses sanctioning of the use of Nazi salute and other Nazi symbols.

Jelinčič gets new term at helm of National Party

ŽALEC - Zmago Jelinčič, the 76-year-old who has led the far-right National Party (SDS) since its founding in 1991, was appointed president for a new four-year term as the party held a congress on Sunday, at which it also confirmed a platform for the coming EU elections. The party has long been known for its radical views on migrations and the election platform it confirmed centres on this topic.

OTP to get EUR 147 million in dividend from two Slovenian banks

MARIBOR/LJUBLJANA - The Hungarian banking group OTP decided at the shareholder meetings of its two Slovenian banks, NKBM and SKB Banka, on Monday to pay out a total of EUR 147.2 million in dividend. The shareholders also formally endorsed the merger of the smaller SKB Banka with NKBM, which is to be finalised in autumn, according to minutes of both meetings.

Luka Koper planning EUR 500m logistics centre in Beltinci

BELTINCI - The port operator Luka Koper plans to build an international logistics centre in Beltinci in the northeast of the country. The investment, which was unanimously endorsed last week by the mayors from the region, is expected to cost more than EUR 500 million, and provide jobs to around 300 people. Beltinci Mayor Marko Virag told the STA that the centre would be built between the Lipovci railway station, north of Beltinci, and the A5 motorway. "This geostrategic point should be utilised for logistical purposes," Virag said.

Boštjan Gorjup resigns as BSH Hišni Aparati director

NAZARJE - Boštjan Gorjup, long-term director of the home appliances maker BSH Hišni Aparati, resigned on Friday, the Necenzurirano portal reports. He resigned for personal reasons and with immediate effect, the company told the STA. BHS Hišni Aparati was hit hard by floods last August with the damage assessed at more than EUR 100 million. The company based in Nazarje, north-east of the capital, plans to move production to a new location in the same municipality.

Number of employed down due to retirement

LJUBLJANA - The number of people in active employment in Slovenia dropped by 0.2% in January over December. In January, 939,000 people were in active employment. Out of the total of some 2,300 who stopped working between December and January, some 1,800 were over the age of 60, with the Statistics Office attributing this to retirement. Year-on-year, the number of those in employment increased by 1.3%.

Farmers call off rally as they sign preliminary deal with govt

LJUBLJANA - The representatives of farmer organisations and government signed on Monday an agreement that will serve as a basis for further talks on their demands. The farmers thus decided to cancel a massive protest they planned for Tuesday in Ljubljana. Speaking to the press, Agriculture Minister Mateja Čalušić welcomed the farmers' readiness for cooperation and compromise, so she expects the talks will be successful.

Karavanke tube breakthrough celebrated

JESENICE - A formal ceremony marked the end of excavation works on the second tube of the Karavanke tunnel, a key border crossing with Austria in western Slovenia, on Monday. The new tube is to be completed by late next year, when it will take on all of the traffic for a multi-year renovation of the existing tube, built in 1991.

Slovenians divided on assisted dying being put into law

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian public is divided on the issue of legislative regulation of assisted dying, with more than 47% of the respondents in a Vox Populi public opinion survey in favour, and over 43% against. Some 55% believe that a (consultative) referendum on this issue is not needed. In the poll carried out for the newspaper Dnevnik by Ninamedia among 700 respondents on 11-14 March, more than 9% were undecided.

Vox Populi: Govt rating stabilises

LJUBLJANA - The March Vox Populi public opinion survey shows support for the government stabilising after a turbulent few months. Largely unchanged over the month before, 24.4% of the respondents deemed the government's work as successful, while 70.3% said it was unsuccessful. Support for the government has been on the decline since October, when the number of people dissatisfied with its work exceeded 50% for the first time since Robert Golob's cabinet took office in June 2022.

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