Weekly review of events involving Slovenia, 12-18 April

Ljubljana, 19 April - Below is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia from 12 to 18 April:

FRIDAY, 12 April

MOSCOW, Russia/LJUBLJANA - Russia declared a Slovenian diplomat serving at the Slovenian Embassy in Moscow persona non grata in response to Slovenia's expelling a Russian diplomat in March. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry said another diplomat would be posted to Moscow to keep the number of diplomats unchanged.

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar issued a decree for Slovenia to open an embassy in the Philippines. The move is to facilitate employment procedures in efforts to attract workforce. Foreign Ministry official Dragan Barbutovski would take over as chargé d'affaires until an ambassador is appointed.

LJUBLJANA - Victoria Harrison was appointed the UK's new ambassador to Slovenia. As the country's first blind ambassador, she will succeed Tiffany Sadler in August.

VIENNA, Austria - PM Robert Golob attended informal talks on the EU strategic agenda hosted by Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. He stressed that the EU will effectively address current challenges only with more decisive join action.

TRIESTE, Italy - The University of Trieste honoured former Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Italian President Sergio Mattarella with the honorary doctorate in law for standing up firmly against the narrow-mindedness of nationalist egoism and for advocating a policy of reconciliation.

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

SATURDAY, 13 April

LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Matjaž Han was elected leader of the Social Democrats (SD), narrowly beating MEP Milan Brglez at a party congress. Han, who said his aim was to unite the party, is seen as a representative of the party's pro-business wing, which has been criticised by many of late as having forgotten social democratic ideals.

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) were the wealthiest party last year although they also had the most expenditure, data by the Slovenian Agency for Public Legal Records (AJPES) showed. The ruling Freedom Movement had the most revenue, with more than half coming from the budget. The coalition SocDems had the largest debt.

SUNDAY, 14 April

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia strongly condemned Iran's attack on Israel, with PM Robert Golob calling for an immediate end to all military activities and a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East. Slovenia's UN Security Council representative Samuel Žbogar strongly condemned the attack at the council's emergency session.

TRIESTE, Italy - Samo Pahor, a historian, professor and activist for the rights of the Slovenian minority in Italy, died at the age of 84. Pahor is best known for his long-standing efforts in the fight for the rights of Slovenians in Italy. In 2023, he received a medal of merit for his work.

NEU-ULM, Germany - The Slovenian women's handball team defeated Montenegro 30:26 in the last match of a qualifying tournament to earn a ticket for the Summer Olympics in Paris - the first Olympics appearance for women athletes in team sports in the nation's history.

MONDAY, 15 April

PRISHTINA, Kosovo - President Nataša Pirc Musar met her Kosovar counterpart Vjosa Osmani during her first visit to Kosovo to reaffirm Slovenia's firm support for the country's integration. She also met Albanian President Bajram Begaj, and visited Slovenian soldiers serving in the KFOR mission.

TOKYO, Japan - FM Tanja Fajon met her Japanese counterpart Yoko Kamikawa at the outset of a two-day official visit to Japan. They discussed bilateral relations and cooperation in the UN Security Council. Fajon called for more efforts to boost cooperation in business and science. A day later she met several other officials or CEOs.

PARIS, France - Slovenia pledged to contribute an additional half a million euros for war-torn Sudan at a conference at which donors pledged a total of EUR 2 billion. Slovenia will make the contribution through the International Committee of the Red Cross for the 2024-2026 period.

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Minister of the Environment, Climate and Energy Bojan Kumer was among 23 EU ministers responsible for energy and representatives of around 100 companies from the European solar energy sector to sign the EU Solar Energy Charter at an informal meeting in Brussels.

LJUBLJANA - The latest Vox Populi poll commissioned by the newspaper Dnevnik showed the Robert Golob government and coalition parties have seen their ratings bottom out after falling for the past few months. The proportion of those unhappy with the government's job fell by over 5 points to 65%, against 30% who said the reverse.

TUESDAY, 16 April

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob received his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez with international recognition of Palestine topping the agenda. While they did not talk about a timeline, they noted the difficult situation in Gaza. They also announced that a meeting of the countries' governments could take place in autumn in Spain to strengthen cooperation.

WASHINGTON, US - The IMF's latest forecast for Slovenia projected a 2% GDP growth for this year, a 0.2 point downward correction compared to the autumn forecast. The IMF expects growth to pick up to 2.5% in 2025. Average inflation for this year is now projected at 2.7%, down from 4.2% in the autumn, and at 2% for 2025.

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell nominated Slovenia's Veronika Bošković Pohar as charge d'affairs in Afghanistan until an ambassador is appointed, and Aleška Simkić as the new EU ambassador to Kazakhstan.

LJUBLJANA - After meeting Education Minister Darjo Felda, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar announced that the ministries will boost cooperation regarding safety in schools and improve the protocol for action in the event of threats. The meeting came after an anonymous threat of a school shooting, which did not materialise but caused some panic due to what some saw as improper police communication.


BEIJING, China - To preserve international peace and security, political solutions must be sought in line with the UN Charter and international law, FM Tanja Fajon said as she started a four-day visit to China by meeting her counterpart Wang Yi. They also agreed that peace needs to be reached in Gaza, with Fajon noting the importance of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

NEW YORK, US - Slovenia's representative in the UN Security Council Samuel Žbogar said during a debate on the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that the agency was a factor of stability in the Middle East region and its workers the overlooked heroes of the war in Gaza.

ZAGREB, Croatia - Slovenian minority member Barbara Antolić Vupora will continue to serve as MP of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the Croatian parliament after she was re-elected in the 17 April elections. However, Armin Hodžić, a member of the Bosniak minority, is the MP that represents all ethnic minorities in the Croatian parliament.

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a motion for a referendum on assisted dying. Despite some reservations by the Social Democrats (SD), the coalition provided enough votes for the passage, while the opposition expressed strong criticism, with the Democrats (SDS) obstructing the vote.

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a motion for a referendum on the use of medical cannabis and possession and production for personal use. The proposal was passed with 42 votes in favour, provided by the coalition Freedom Movement and the Left, while the third partner, the Social Democrats, abstained, and the opposition obstructed the vote.

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a motion for a referendum in which Slovenians would decide whether they want the option of a preferential vote in the general elections. Despite some reservations, the coalition parties and the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) voted in favour of the proposal.

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed the government-sponsored changes to the Medical Services Act which expand the range of services doctors must provide during strikes. The doctors' trade union Fides plans to challenge them at the Constitutional Court, arguing that they amounted to a dangerous precedent and that its effects would go beyond the doctors' right to strike.

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court rejected the petition by the energy company Petrol for a constitutional review of the government's decision to regulate certain fuel prices, and proposed that the company sue the state for compensation for the alleged pecuniary damage.

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian police officers processed a total of 9,828 illegal migrants in the first three months of the year, up 18% from the same period in 2023. A major rise in Syrian citizens, who accounted for more than a third of all illegal migrants, was recorded, followed by Afghans and Moroccans.

BLED - The wars in Ukraine and Gaza topped the agenda as the General Assembly of Writers for Peace Committee met in Bled as part of the 56th International Writers' Meeting, which is annually held in Slovenia. The Writers for Peace Committee are working on a draft resolution on the Gaza war for PEN International's 90th congress, which is due in Oxford, the UK, in autumn.

VENICE, Italy - Slovenia's pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale opened, featuring conceptual artist Nika Špan's Garden Secret for You exhibited in a park, in what marks the first time that the Slovenian pavilion is located in a public space. Špan's work of art was inaugurated three days before the biennale is scheduled to open.

THURSDAY, 18 April

BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Robert Golob said he is in favour of EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's bid for another term, adding that the most effective response to the anti-EU propaganda coming from Russia ahead of the June EU elections is to turn out to vote. He also said as he arrived at proceedings on day two of the EU summit that Slovenia does not support a fully centralised capital markets union.

BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Robert Golob said he congratulated Croatian PM and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković on the victory in Croatia's 17 April general election. He said he was confident that the excellent relations between Slovenia and Croatia would continue with a new Croatian government under the same leadership.

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec and his Montenegrin counterpart Dragan Krapović signed an agreement on the free transfer of six non-lethal man-portable air defence systems to the Armed Forces of Montenegro. This will enhance bilateral defence cooperation, which Šarec said was excellent already and committed to NATO and EU values.

LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency said it searched a week ago the premises of four companies that supplied 13,000 laptops to the state last year in a deal that led to the motion to oust Digital Transformation Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh earlier this year. Lancom, Unistar, Gambit Trade, and Acord-92 are suspected of colluding in setting the prices offered to the state.

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of over 20 NGOs and unions called on the government to offer shelter to Palestinians in Gaza who have relatives in Slovenia using the system of complementary pathways. The right-leaning party Voice of Pensioners held a press conference at the same time to disrupt the NGOs' event.

LJUBLJANA - The Youth for Climate Justice movement unveiled its own version of a referendum question on the Krško 2 project for the construction of a second nuclear reactor. Their question focuses on speeding up the process of obtaining information and analyses, which would help the people definitively decide on the project in a second referendum.

© STA, 2024