News roundup - Monday, 15 April

Ljubljana, 15 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 15 April:

Pirc Musar reaffirms support for Kosovo on European path

PRISHTINA, Kosovo - President Nataša Pirc Musar met her counterpart Vjosa Osmani during her first visit to Kosovo. "Slovenia strongly supports Kosovo on its way to the European integration, including in the Council of Europe, and the much-needed continued strengthening of cooperation between Kosovo and the EU," she said after the meeting. Pirc Musar also met with Albanian President Bajram Begaj, attended the Women, Peace and Security conference, and visited Slovenian soldiers serving in the Kosovo Force (KFOR).

Foreign Minister Fajon starts visit to Japan

TOKYO, Japan - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon met her counterpart Yoko Kamikawa at the outset of a two-day official visit to Japan. They discussed bilateral relations and the countries cooperation in the UN Security Council where both serve as non-permanent members. They also discussed the war in Gaza, the Iranian attack on Israel, Russian aggression in Ukraine and the situation in the Western Balkans. Fajon called for more boosting cooperation in business and science. She also spoke about science and innovation at the University of Tokyo. After Japan, Fajon will visit China.

Slovenian Security Council rep condemns Iran's attack on Israel

NEW YORK, US - As the UN Security Council met on Sunday evening to discuss Iran's attack on Israel, calling on all parties involved to show restraint, respect international law and the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes, Slovenia's representative Samuel Žbogar strongly condemned the attack. "We resolutely regret the serious escalation of the crisis, as we did last week on the occasion of the attack on the Iranian consulate," Žbogar said. President Nataša Pirc Musar also called for a ceasefire and diplomatic talks as she responded to the Iranian attack on Israel.

Coalition voices support for independent Palestine ahead of Sanchez visit

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minster Robert Golob and the parties of the ruling coalition reiterated their support for the recognition of a Palestinian state ahead of Tuesday's visit by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. The latter is touring Europe in search of support for the recognition initiative recently launched by Spain, Slovenia, Ireland and Malta. The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) does not think the recognition would be useful at the moment and the Democrats (SDS) have been opposed to the idea throughout.

Slovenia pledges half a million euros for Sudan

PARIS, France - Slovenia pledged to contribute an additional half a million euros for war-torn Sudan at a conference in Paris 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. Addressing the conference, Foreign Ministry State Secretary Sanja Štiglic emphasised the urgency of protecting the Sundanese civilians and allowing unhindered access to humanitarian aid.

Slovenia among signatories of EU Solar Energy Charter

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. The signatories committed to supporting the production of solar energy capacities. In signing the charter, EU governments have acknowledged the critical role of companies in the solar electricity sector in strategic supply chains.

NSi wants EU commissioner pick to get consent from majority of MEPs

LJUBLJANA - The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) filed a bill under which the government will need consent of at least five Slovenian MEPs to propose a candidate for the Slovenian member of the European Commission. "There are political manipulations, agreements behind-the-scenes and the struggle for political prestige over and over again," NSi deputy group head Janez Cigler Kralj said in presenting the proposal. Only the Left responded, calling the proposal a pre-election move, but said it was willing to discuss in the future whether there was another, more democratic way of nominating the European commissioner.

Poll shows fewer dissatisfied with govt

LJUBLJANA - The Robert Golob government and coalition parties have seen their ratings bottom out after falling for the past few months. The latest Vox Populi poll commissioned by the newspaper Dnevnik shows the proportion of respondents who are unhappy with the government's job falling by over 5 percentage points to 65%, against 30% who said the reverse. The opposition Democrats (SDS) remain firmly on top at 22.3% (23.1% in March), followed by the ruling Freedom Movement at 15.4% (14.1% in March).

Long-serving Italian minority MP Battelli dies

LJUBLJANA - Roberto Battelli, a former MP representing the Italian national minority in Slovenia, has died, aged 69. Battelli served in parliament for seven terms, from 1992 to 2018. In 2022 former President Borut Pahor decorated Battelli with the Golden Order of Merit for his long-time work and contribution to the development of democracy in Slovenia and for his merits in connecting and preserving the Italian minority in Slovenia. The National Assembly will honour him with a minute's silence at its next session.

Minority rights activist Samo Pahor dies

TRIESTE, Italy - Samo Pahor, historian, professor and activist for the rights of the Slovenian minority in Italy, died on Sunday 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, notably his contributions to a decision by the Italian Constitutional Court in 1992 on protection of minorities and the use of mother tongue in public administration.

Gaza, Ukraine in focus of PEN International Writers' Meeting

LJUBLJANA/BLED - The 56th PEN International Writers' Meeting is taking place in Ljubljana and Bled until Thursday as an opportunity to foster dialogue between different opinions and discuss the wars in Gaza and Ukraine as well as armed conflicts in Africa. This year's main guest is Pakistani author and human rights activist Tahira Abdullah. Around 60 participants are expected to attend in person, and an additional 20 will take part online.

Actress on hunger strike in support of Palestinians

LJUBLJANA - Draga Potočnjak, a 65-year-old Slovenian actress, has been on hunger strike in support of Palestine since Friday in what she says is an act of despair and the last glimmer of hope for solidarity and humanity. Potočnjak is on hunger strike at the Slovensko Mladinsko Theatre (SMG), which is supporting her in the campaign. She is planning to continue her strike until Sunday. She called for the ecognition of a Palestinian state and end of war in Gaza.

Cannabis referendum backed by committee

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Health Committee endorsed the proposal by the largest ruling coalition party to hold a consultative referendum on the use of cannabis. The Freedom Movement and the Left changed the wording of the referendum question because the parliamentary legal service said it was unclear and misleading. Instead of asking voters whether they are in favour of legalising the cultivation, processing, sale and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, they now propose asking two questions, whether they support legalising the cultivation and processing of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and whether they support legalising the cultivation and possession of cannabis for limited personal use. The opposition Democrats (SDS) argued such an essential change in question was not possible procedurally.

Mayors, ministers discuss local government funding

LJUBLJANA - The National Council hosted a consultation on the funding of municipalities, with mayors underlining that per-capita funding should be based on actual expenses so as to avoid cuts in investments. Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič indicated that changes drafted would have a beneficial effect on the autonomy of municipalities. National Council President Marko Lotrič argued that special attention should be placed on smaller communities along the border that face brain drain, ageing and security issues.

Salus allocates EUR 7.4m for dividends

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of Salus, the Ljubljana-based pharmaceutical and medical equipment wholesaler, will allocate EUR 7.38 million or EUR 70 gross per share for dividends, as much as last year. This includes the EUR 35 gross per share that was paid out in January and another EUR 35 to be paid out on 26 April. The rest of the EUR 37.8 million in distributable profit will remain undistributed, Salus said on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

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