News roundup - Friday, 12 April

Ljubljana, 12 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 12 April:

Russia declares Slovenian diplomat in Moscow persona non grata

MOSCOW, Russia - Russia declared a Slovenian diplomat serving at the Slovenian Embassy in Moscow persona non grata in response to Slovenia's expelling a Russian diplomat last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The news was confirmed by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, which also said that the diplomat must leave by next Friday. However, Slovenia intends to post another diplomat to Moscow to keep the number of diplomats unchanged.

Slovenia opens embassy in the Philippines

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar issued a decree that Slovenia open an embassy in the Philippines. This comes only days after the newspaper Delo reported that the move was imminent and that Foreign Ministry official Dragan Barbutovski would take over as chargé d'affaires until an ambassador is appointed. The Foreign Ministry is to put out a call to find the Manila-based ambassador. Slovenia opened a consulate general in Manila last year in order to speed up employment procedures in efforts to attract workforce.

Victoria Harrison appointed UK ambassador to Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Victoria Harrison has been appointed the UK's new ambassador to Slovenia. As the country's first blind ambassador she will succeed Tiffany Sadler in August 2024, the UK embassy in Ljubljana announced. Harrison will be the first ambassador to be accompanied by a guide dog, her two-year-old labrador golden retriever cross named Otto. Born in Dumfries in Scotland, Harrison joined the UK diplomatic service in 1997 as the first person with a declared disability to be recruited by the Foreign Office.

Pahor and Mattarella get honorary doctorate for reconciliation efforts

TRIESTE, Italy - The University of Trieste honoured Italian President Sergio Mattarella and former Slovenian President Borut Pahor with the honorary doctorate in law for standing up firmly against the narrow-mindedness of nationalist egoism and for advocating a policy of reconciliation. The university praised Pahor and Mattarella as "the statesmen" who contributed to the transformation of the Adriatic border from a zone of ethnic and cultural disputes into a space of dialogue, cooperation and friendship.

Han to run for SD head

LJUBLJANA - Matjaž Han, economy minister and a notable member of the junior coalition Social Democrats (SD), announced he would run for party leader at a congress on Saturday, which will see Tanja Fajon leave after four years. Three other candidates have announced to run, and more candidacies may be filed at the congress. Han said he wanted to bring unity back to the party and put team work rather than individualism in the forefront.

Slovenia advises against all travel to Iran

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Foreign Ministry advised against any travel to Iran, saying on its website that the highest level of caution is advised. The warning comes after a recent alleged Israeli attack on Iran's consulate in Damascus, with Israel reportedly expecting retaliation this weekend. Slovenians in Iran are advised to follow media reports and advice from local authorities and their local connections, such as hotel staff or tourist guides, in case of any incidents.

Slovenia remains diligent implementer of ECHR judgments, reports shows

STRASBOURG, France - Slovenia remains one of the top performers among Council of Europe (CoE) member states in terms of the proportion of executed European Court of Human Rights judgments. The CoE report for 2023 ranks it sixth, while it was fourth in 2022. Slovenia had six unimplemented judgments at the end of last year.

10,000 rental laptops available in call for applications

LJUBLJANA - A call for applications has been published for the distribution of a total of 10,000 rental laptops that the Digital Transformation Ministry purchased last summer, including for the socially disadvantaged. Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh survived last month a motion of no confidence over the purchase with the opposition Democrats (SDS) accusing her of negligence.

SDS calls on agri minister to resign over KGZS law annulment

LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) called on Agriculture Minister Mateja Čalušić to resign, or be dismissed, after the Constitutional Court annulled part of the changes to the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry Act that Čalušić initiated last year when serving as an MP for the ruling party. The call, which was joined by the other opposition party, New Slovenia (NSi), comes after the court annulled part of the changes due to violation of the principle of equality before law. The minister said she would respect the court's decision, but she is not considering resigning.

Oversight council says management of 2nd track project improving

LJUBLJANA - The council for civilian oversight of the project to build a second rail track between Divača and the Koper port has assessed that while the managing of the project is still not satisfactory, improvements have been made in the last year. "We have noticed that the investor is managing costs and unexpected events, despite their scale being immense," council member Damir Josipovič told the press.

Telekom, Triglav CEOs appear before party funding inquiry

LJUBLJANA - Former CEO of Telekom Slovenije Tomaž Seljak and the CEO of Zavarovalnica Triglav, Andrej Slapar, appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into suspected illegal party funding, both claiming they had not paid much attention to advertising. Slapar said that the media in which Triglav advertised did not depend on the government. Seljak was not concrete in his answer to the question whether he found advertising in media outlets that seem affiliated to political parties problematic.

Delo poll shows Slovenians unhappy with EU's response to crises

LJUBLJANA - A poll published by the newspaper Delo indicates that Slovenians are rather dissatisfied with the EU's response to the most recent crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost of living, migrations and the climate crisis. Answers also suggest that Slovenians are most worried about the cost of living.

Space technology companies presented in US

COLORADO SPRINGS, US - Slovenian companies that have contributed to the country developing a notable space technologies sector in recent years presented themselves in Colorado Springs and are now off to Denver as part of a road-show organised by the Slovenian Space Office, the public agency SPIRIT, the Defence Ministry and the Slovenian Embassy in Washington. The initiative, promoting a promising space sector that features over 40 small and mid-sized companies developing innovative technologies and materials, was described by the Economy Ministry as one of the important steps strengthening future cooperation between Slovenia and the US.

Painter Gustav Gnamuš dies

LJUBLJANA - Gustav Gnamuš, one of the most prominent Slovenian abstract painters, has died, aged 82, according to MMC, the online portal of the Slovenian public broadcaster. Having received all major national awards for his work, including the Prešeren Prize in 2001, Gnamuš is considered one of the most sensitive abstract colourist painters, not just in Slovenia but also worldwide.

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