News roundup - Tuesday, 9 April

Ljubljana, 9 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 9 April:

Slovenia regrets Russia and China vetoing Gaza resolution

NEW YORK, US - Slovenia expressed regret at a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday that Russia and China vetoed the US proposal on the resolution on Gaza on 22 March. The countries voted against the resolution, arguing that it does not exert enough pressure on Israel. Ambassador Boštjan Malovrh also expressed concern over the threat of an operation in Rafah.

Sanchez to visit Slovenia on tour for recognition of Palestine

LJUBLJANA - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will visit Slovenia next Tuesday as part of a European tour aimed at rallying support for recognition of Palestine as an independent state. Sanchez will embark on a tour of Europe on Friday to meet his counterparts in Norway, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium and Slovenia to "share his concern around the situation in Gaza and the need to push forward the recognition of Palestine as a state", the Spanish government's spokesperson, Pilar Alegria, said.

Putin's ally Viktor Zubkov visits Slovenia, says report

LJUBLJANA - A few days ago, Viktor Zubkov, a former Russian prime minister and a close ally of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, visited Slovenia, the news portal Necenzurirano reported. The visit of the long-serving chairman of the gas giant Gazprom was reportedly coordinated by the Russian embassy, but no details of his agenda have been revealed. Zubkov is blacklisted in the UK, but not in the US or EU.

Expelled Russian diplomat allegedly tried to arouse popular sentiment against NATO

LJUBLJANA - The Russian diplomat whom Slovenia expelled in March over a surge in Russian propaganda activities was working with a network of associates in an attempt to interfere in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Slovenia's accession to NATO, according to unofficial but reliable sources. The network allegedly attempted to incite negative popular sentiment against the alliance. The pair of alleged Russian spies who were arrested in Slovenia in December 2022 were unofficially not part of this network.

Slovenia to open embassy in Philippines shortly

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will open its embassy in the Philippines in a matter of days with Foreign Ministry official Dragan Barbutovski to take over as chargé d'affaires, the newspaper Delo reported. Barbutovski, currently head of the Foreign Ministry's strategic communication service, is to serve as chargé d'affaires until the ambassador is picked and posted to Manila. According to Delo, Barbutovski will not apply for the job because he does not yet meet the requirements.

Mediation between govt and doctors over strike fails

LJUBLJANA - Mediation between the government and doctors, launched under the auspices of the Bar Association to stop the longest strike by doctors in Slovenian history, failed. The government and the trade union of doctors and dentists Fides said they were unable to agree on the strike demands despite "great effort of the mediators and negotiators, their striving for a solution and truthful exchange of views". Statements by both sides show the main problem remains that the government wants to tackle the doctors' pay demands as part of the public sector-wide pay talks. The sides are committed to continue talks on strike demands.

Security around schools beefed up after online threat

LJUBLJANA - Security will be beefed up in and around Slovenian schools after an online threat comment briefly appeared on one of Slovenia's news portals below a report of a school shooting in Finland. The comment that a similar event would happen in Slovenia on 10 April was deleted by the user after only three minutes, so police believe such an event is unlikely, but nevertheless called on schools to increase self-protective behaviour and be vigilant.

Minister promises security around planned asylum centre

SREDIŠČE OB DRAVI - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar and Police Commissioner Senad Jušić visited the Središče ob Dravi border crossing with Croatia, where locals are protesting against the government plan to establish an asylum centre there. Poklukar said that the centre will be a challenge for the police, but that adequate security will be provided. Like during the visit to the Obrežje border crossing the day before, the meetings showed the government and the locals remain divided over the asylum centre.

Slovenia elected to UNICEF Executive Board

NEW YORK, US - Slovenia was elected to the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for a three-year term starting in January next year. The Executive Board is the governing body of UNICEF. It oversees the agency's work, approves policy, budget and country programmes, and provides country support. It is made up of 36 UN member states, with seats distributed according to the world organisation's regional key.

Committee okays motion for referendum on assisted dying

LJUBLJANA - The Health Committee cleared the coalition-proposed motion for a consultative referendum on assisted dying for further debate, although the parliamentary legal service assessed that the proposed referendum question is vague. This issue has also been raised by MPs, including from the coalition. A bill on assisted dying, initiated by an NGO and supported by voter signatures, failed to pass the first reading in March as the ruling Freedom Movement decided that a referendum should be held instead.

SDS urges official complaint against Jourova

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) called on the government to address a complaint to the European Commission based on their allegations that Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova had exerted pressure on Slovenia's top court in a case involving the country's public broadcaster. They would like MPs to discuss the matter at an emergency session. The European Commission and the Slovenian Constitutional Court have dismissed the SDS's allegations.

Shortlist of options for potential new N-plant emerging

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of Gen Energija, the state company owning the Slovenian half of the country's sole nuclear power plant (NEK), updated the press on Monday on the preparations for a potential new nuclear plant in Krško. They suggested that zoning for the plant, whose potential launch is expected around 2040, could start this year. Studies are continuing aimed at narrowing down the range of nuclear facility options provided by three potential suppliers - French energy giant EDF, US Westinghouse, whose technology is in the existing Krško plant, and South Korea's KHNP.

Slovenia, Hungary and Serbia enter energy project

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Slovenia, Hungary and Serbia signed a partnership agreement in Budapest to strengthen cooperation in energy. The Environment, Climate and Energy Ministry said the joint BlueSky project is expected to establish a new foundation for regional electricity trading, ensuring better market integration, increasing energy security and stimulating economic progress. Now partners from all three countries have joined the regional electricity exchange Adex.

State assets' return on equity shoots up to record 10.2% in 2023

LJUBLJANA - The return on capital investments managed by Slovenia Sovereign Holding (SSH) rose considerably last year, reaching 10.2%, a record high since the state asset custodian was established in 2014, preliminary data show. The state and SSH also received EUR 175.5 million in dividends, SSH said after Monday's supervisory board session. The report puts the total value of the state's capital investments managed by SSH at the end of last year at EUR 12.2 billion.

Poll shows Slovenians losing trust in doctors, but not healthcare

LJUBLJANA - Slovenians are losing trust in online stores but are increasingly trusting banks, and they are losing trust in doctors but increasingly trust healthcare, a survey conducted by pollster Valicon showed. The most trustworthy institution is civil protection and the most trustworthy profession firefighters.

Garnbret wins first World Cup event to confirm form for Paris

KEQIAO, China - Slovenian sport climbing star Janja Garnbret has won the first IFSC World Cup event of the new season in Keqiao, China, emerging victorious in the bouldering event, and confirming the status of the best woman climber ahead of the Paris Summer Olympics. The 25-year-old increased the overall number of her victories in the World Cup to an absolute record of 42. "The whole competition went fantastically, exactly as I had imagined," Garnbret said after the event.

Exhibition on propaganda art opens in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - An exhibition of propagandist and provocative artworks opened at the P74 Gallery, running until 26 April. It features works by the New Collectivism studio, the Laibach Kunst group, Matjaž Hanžek, Ivan Volarič Feo and Dalibor Martinis.

© STA, 2024