News roundup - Thursday, 18 April

Ljubljana, 18 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 18 April:

National Assembly passes three referendum motions

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed late on Wednesday motions for consultative referendums on the preferential vote in general elections, on assisted dying and on cannabis regulation. The opposition opposed the latter, with the coalition Social Democrats (SD) also expressing several reservations. Among other things, they don not want the referendums to be held alongside the EU election on 9 June.

Fajon notes importance of constructive dialogue in China

BEIJING, China - Wrapping up the political part of her ongoing four-day visit to China, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that Slovenia needs and wants to talk with China in a constructive manner. Fajon and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi agreed that peace needs to be reached in Gaza, and Fajon also noted the importance of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

Golob supports von der Leyen's bid for another term

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Robert Golob said as he arrived for the second day of the EU summit that he is satisfied with the work of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and is in favour of her bid for another term. His Freedom Movement has already selected a candidate for Slovenian commissioner so talks can start, he said.

PM says best response to Russian propaganda is voting in elections

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The most effective response to the anti-EU propaganda coming from Russia ahead of the June EU elections is to turn out to vote, Prime Minister Robert Golob said as he arrived for the second day of the EU Summit. It is crucial that the EU, member states and the European Parliament find an effective response, he stressed.

Slovenia does not support fully centralised capital markets union

BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Robert Golob said that instead of speaking about strengthening the competitiveness of the EU economy, the focus should be on increasing its productivity, including by directing private capital to the most prolific investments. One way to do this is through a capital markets union but not a fully centralised one.

Golob congratulates Plenković on election victory

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Robert Golob congratulated Croatian Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković on the victory in the general election held in Croatia on Wednesday. He is confident that the excellent relations between Slovenia and Croatia would continue with a new government under the same leadership.

Žbogar says UNRWA employees are heroes of the Gaza war

NEW YORK, US - Slovenia's representative in the UN Security Council Samuel Žbogar said during a debate on the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) requested by Jordan in New York on Wednesday that the agency was a factor of stability in the Middle East and its workers the overlooked heroes of the war in Gaza.

Slovenian, Montenegrin ministers sign defence agreement

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian and Montenegrin defence ministers, Marjan Šarec and Dragan Krapović, signed an agreement on the free transfer of six non-lethal man-portable air defence systems to the Armed Forces of Montenegro, which should further enhance the good bilateral defence cooperation. The pair also voiced unanimous support to former Slovenian President Borut Pahor in his bid to become the next EU special representative for the Belgrade-Prishtina dialogue.

NGOs call on government to offer shelter to Palestinians

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of over 20 NGOs called on the government to offer shelter in Slovenia to Palestinians in Gaza who have relatives in Slovenia through the system of complementary pathways. It is Slovenia's responsibility to adopt concrete measures against Israel with the goal to stop genocide, the NGOs stressed.

Bill requiring consent of locals for asylum centres past first hurdle

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Interior Affairs Committee backed in a narrow vote an opposition-sponsored bill under which government plans to erect asylum centres will require consent from local communities. The SDS tabled the bill after the government decided to erect two asylum centre units on the border with Croatia without consulting the local communities first. The bill will now be voted on at the plenary.

Slovenian minority member re-elected to Croatian parliament

ZAGREB, Croatia - Slovenian minority member Barbara Antolić Vupora will continue to serve as MP in the Croatian parliament after she was re-elected on the SPD slate in Wednesday's elections. She will continue her efforts for the Slovenian community in Croatia, she told the STA. Officially, however, Armin Hodžić, a member of the Bosniak minority, is the MP representing ethnic minorities, including the Slovenian one.

DeSUS and Good State unveil their joint EU election slate

LJUBLJANA - The non-parliamentary Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Good State presented their joint list of candidates for the EU elections. Headed by Uroš Lipušček, a 76-year-old former RTV Slovenija correspondent, it features former journalist Drago Bulc, economist Bogomir Kovač and actress Saša Pavček. The parties would like a referendum on Slovenia's NATO membership, while vying for at least one seat in parliament.

MPs adopt changes to Medical Services Act

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly adopted late on Wednesday the government-sponsored changes to the Medical Services Act which expand the range of services doctors must provide during strikes. The motion was passed in a 49:26 vote. The Fides trade union said it would challenge the changes at the Constitutional Court.

Competition watchdog investigating laptop suppliers

LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency (AVK) searched the premises last Thursday of the 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.

MEP candidates agree with GZS that strategic EU industries should be kept in Europe

LJUBLJANA - Six candidates for MEPs from all parliamentary parties who took part a discussion on European industry agreed with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (GZS) appeal that strategic EU industries should be kept in Europe. The lesson of the various crises is that "we must take care of ourselves" while becoming energy self-sufficient, agreed Romana Tomc (SDS), Matej Tonin (NSi), Aleksander Jevšek (SD), Franc Bogovič (SLS), Uroš Brežan (Freedom Movement) and Luka Mesec (Left).

Businesses, employers call on govt to honour agreements

LJUBLJANA - A group of leading business chambers and employer associations addressed a letter to PM Robert Golob urging him to honour the agreements for constructive cooperation. They argue the government is not listening to businesses, which leads to their competitiveness deteriorating, which also affects the welfare of society. The Business Circle group said the government is only looking for new ways to put an additional burden on businesses and to increase public spending.

Environmental risks identified at Poček training grounds

POSTOJNA - The Defence Ministry presented the environmental protection measures the Slovenian Armed Forces have been implementing in the area of the Poček training grounds near Postojna. State Secretary Rudi Medved said that military activities in the area have no harmful impact on the drinking water, but the ministry does plan to expand monitoring efforts at the initiative of local authorities.

Cinkarna had much higher profit in 2023 than initially reported

CELJE - Chemical company Cinkarna Celje posted EUR 12.65 million in net profit last year, shows its audited 2023 annual report. This is well above the initial estimate of EUR 5.5 million, but still 71% less than in 2022. Revenue amounted to EUR 176.5 million, which is 22% less than in 2022, but the same amount as reported in the unaudited report in March.

Former STA editor-in-chief appointed interim director

LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) appointed on Wednesday the agency's former editor-in-chief Barbara Štrukelj interim director. She will be filling in for two months, as outgoing director Igor Kadunc is leaving in mid-May and the newly appointed director Mojca Prelesnik is set to take over on 18 July.

Fire breaks out at Ilirija sports centre construction site

LJUBLJANA - A construction site in Ljubljana where works are being finalized on the Ilirija sports centre was set on fire last night ar around 3am, causing some 300,000 in damage. The fire has since been put out, but the police investigation is ongoing and the cause of the fire is not yet known. The police found that the perpetrator had set on fire construction materials next to the building, and the fire then spread to the building itself. Ilirija is set to open in September.

Film by Prosenc competing at Tribeca film festival

NEW YORK, US - Family Therapy, a film by acclaimed Slovenian filmmaker Sonja Prosenc, has been selected among the ten films of the main international competition programme of the Tribeca film festival, which will be held between 5 and 16 June in New York. The ten films were selected from a record 13,016 applicants.

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