News roundup - Friday, 22 March, until 3pm

Ljubljana, 22 March - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 22 March, until 3pm local time:

Golob and Fajon hail start of EU accession talks with Bosnia

BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon welcomed on Thursday the decision of the Euroepan Council to okay the start of accession negations with Bosnia-Herzegovina. Golob said the country had taken an important step on its way into the European family. He added that the decision sent an important and encouraging message to the entire Western Balkans region as well, contributing to its stability, development and a better and more secure future.

Brdo Process ministers discuss smuggling of illegal migrants

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Interior ministers from Brdo Process countries discussed migration in the Western Balkans and the EU through the lens of migrant smuggling. Cooperation is key in the fight against this issue, so the ministers agreed to strengthen it at the level of ministries and police, Slovenia's Boštjan Poklukar said at a joint news conference after the meeting. Poklukar met his Croatian and Italian counterparts, Davor Božinović and Matteo Piantedosi, yesterday and today the trio were joined by Montenegro's Danilo Šaranović, Kosovo's Xhelal Svecla, North Macedonia's Panče Toškovski and Olivier Onidi from the EU DG for Migration and Home Affairs.

EU Commission official presents measures to tackle demographic change

LJUBLJANA - European Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica presented a package of measures that will be available to EU countries to tackle demographic changes and their impact on society and the economy as she attended a conference on demographic changes in Slovenia and the EU, organised by Slovenian MEP Romana Tomc (EPP). Šuica said each country has its own specifics so measures that work in one country might not be effective in another. But a package addressing both birth rates and the longer life expectancy must be adopted.

NSi event calls for change of government

LJUBLJANA - New Slovenia (NSi) called for a change in government at a panel debate featuring prominent experts on Thursday just as the fellow opposition Democratic Party (SDS) voiced the same demand at a rally in Ljubljana. The current government is destroying Slovenia, NSi leader Matej Tonin said. "Slovenia is in a deep political crisis, we have a strike wave and protests all over the country, completely incomprehensible legislation is being adopted, the economic situation is strained," he said.

Locals and Središče ob Dravi mayor step up opposition to asylum centre

SREDIŠČE OB DRAVI - Around 200 residents held another meeting in Središče ob Dravi on Thursday evening to protest against the government plans to erect an asylum centre unit there. The citizens' assembly was organised by Mayor Toni Jelovica, who announced an appeal at the Administrative Court, while civil disobedience has also not been ruled out, TV Slovenija and POP TV reported. Jelovica said he had been authorised by the municipal council to launch an administrative appeal against the government decision from last month under which two asylum centre units, one in Brežice and another in Središče ob Dravi near the Croatian border, would be set up.

Green financing explored at British-Slovenian event

LJUBLJANA - A British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce event on the challenges of green financing brought together representatives from the business and financial sectors of Slovenia, Croatia, and the UK to discuss the role of green financing in the green transition and the challenges faced by this industry. UK Ambassador to Slovenia Tiffany Sadler highlighted the UK and City of London's leading role in green financing, expressing a desire to share experiences with others. Luke Davies, head of the sustainable finance group at Barclays Investment Bank, said there are more and more green finance tools.

FEMS head urges govt to take talks on doctors' pay seriously

LJUBLJANA - Joao de Deus, head of the European Federation of Salaried Doctors (FEMS), visited the doctors' trade union Fides on Thursday, expressing concern that Slovenian doctors and patients might lose the privilege of public healthcare because the government is not taking the negotiations with Fides seriously. He said that FEMS unconditionally supports Fides in its efforts for better conditions in public healthcare.

Prices of residential real estate up 6.8% last year

LJUBLJANA - The prices of residential property were 6.8% higher in 2023 over 2022, in what is the smallest increase since 2021, the Statistics Office said. The number of transactions was down by around a quarter. In 2021, the prices rose by 15.8%, which was the largest growth in the last few years at the time.

Wages down in January

LJUBLJANA - The average Slovenian wage totalled EUR 2,318 gross or EUR 1,477 net in January, down slightly from December but up from January 2023, data from the Statistics Office shows. In nominal terms, the average gross pay in January was 1.3% lower than in December, while in real terms it decreased by 0.7%. The average net pay in January was down 3.4% from the month before in nominal terms and by 2.8% in real terms.

Bust of Polish poet Mickiewicz unveiled in Kranj

KRANJ - The municipality of Kranj and the Polish Embassy in Ljubljana unveiled a bust of the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz in La Ciotat Park in Kranj on Thursday. Polish President Andrzej Duda also attended the event as he completed a two-day visit to Slovenia. This is the seventh in a series of busts of contemporaries of Slovenian poet France Prešeren (1800-1849), which the municipality has been erecting since 2021.

Tallest tree in Slovenia is 140 year-old, 67-metre Douglas fir

CELJE - The tallest tree in Slovenia was declared as International Forest Day was marked on Thursday in the Pečovnik forest, with the title going to a 140 year-old, 67.02-metre tall Douglas fir that grows in this forest south of Celje. A total of 210 large trees have been registered so far in the Pečovnik City Forest, where the first Douglas firs were planted in 1883.

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