News roundup - Thursday, 9 May

Ljubljana, 9 May - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 9 May:

Government launches Palestine recognition procedure

LJUBLJANA - The government launched procedures for Slovenia's recognition of Palestine. Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said this was a first, irreversible step and announced the recognition motion would be submitted to the National Assembly within a month or by 13 June. Prime Minister Robert Golob described the recognition as leverage for pressure to end the fighting in Gaza, adding that the coalition was united in this.

Lenarčič says Palestine recognition at Slovenia's discretion

LJUBLJANA - European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said that recognition of Palestine was an independent decision by the Slovenian government and parliament, but noted that support for a two-state solution implied both states are recognised. He added that the act of recognition would not contribute much to the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Opposition doubts Palestine recognition will contribute to peace

LJUBLJANA - Launching procedures for the recognition of Palestine will not contribute to the situation in the Middle East to calm down, but rather the opposite, opposition Democrats' (SDS) leader Janez Janša said, adding that this was a populist move, which would prove harmful for Slovenia in the medium-term. This was echoed by Matej Tonin, the head of the fellow opposition New Slovenia (NSi), who added that Slovenia would only "wash its hands like Pontius Pilate".

Golob, Lenarčič highlight EU values at membership anniversary event

NOVA GORICA - On Europe Day, PM Robert Golob and European Commissioner Janez Lenarčič addressed the main national ceremony marking 20 years of Slovenia's EU membership in Nova Gorica, a city which also hosted the main celebration when Slovenia entered the Union on 1 May 2004. Both highlighted some of the advantages the EU has brought for Slovenia while they urged people to vote in the EU elections next month when it will be decided what kind of Europe citizens want. As part of the ceremony, the city turned into an EU capital and was bustling with EU-themed events.

Govt keeps Pošta, Triglav labelled as strategic assets

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed a draft strategy for state asset management under which the postal company Pošta Slovenije and insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav remain classified as strategic assets, even though an earlier draft suggested they will no longer be off limits for sale. Seeing its status upgraded in the draft, the telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije is now deemed an important asset. The roadmap was drafted with all due care and coordinated between relevant stakeholders, Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič said.

Top court rejects request to stay referendum on cannabis use

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court rejected the opposition's request to stay a consultative referendum on cannabis use that is scheduled to take place alongside two other referendums and EU election on 9 June. However, the STA learnt that the court decided to treat the case as a matter of top priority. The judges deliberated only over the proposal to stay the cannabis referendum, while the request to stay the referendum on assisted dying has yet to be discussed.

MEP Zver takes European Commission to General Court over Jourova visit

LJUBLJANA - MEP Milan Zver (EPP/SDS) filed a lawsuit at the EU's General Court over last year's visit to Slovenia by European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova, claiming that access to unredacted documents will show Jourova exerted undue pressure on Slovenia's Constitutional Court. The step comes after the opposition Democrats (SDS) took issue with Jourova's visit on 1-2 March 2023 during which she also met Matej Accetto, the president of the Constitutional Court, which at the time deliberated on the government-proposed changes to the law on public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

NLB bank plans to double assets, revenue and profit by the end of 2030

LJUBLJANA - NLB bank presented its group strategy until the end of 2030, aiming to double its total assets, revenue and profit. The plan is for the balance sheet total to reach some EUR 50 billion, revenue EUR 2 billion and profit EUR 1 billion. "The strategy is credible, as the region will grow faster than Western countries," CEO Blaž Brodnjak said.

Slovenian businesses record higher profit in 2023

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian companies created EUR 6.7 billion in net profit in 2023, up 10% in nominal terms and 2% in real terms from 2022. Net value added per employee also grew, while revenue stayed level in nominal terms and decreased by 7% in real terms, shows data by AJPES, the agency for public legal records. The growth in net profit can be accounted to large and micro companies, while small and medium-sized enterprises recorded a lower profit.

NSi says EU needs boost as it starts election campaign

LJUBLJANA - New Slovenia - the Christian Democrats (NSi) launched campaigning for the June EU election as the election campaign officially started. NSi head and top candidate Matej Tonin said they would work towards winning two MEP seats. Preserving the European way of life, having a reasonable green transition that does not put additional pressure on businesses, and adopting a more strict attitude to illegal migration are important goals, he added.

DeSUS and Good State strive for peace in EU elections

LJUBLJANA - The non-parliamentary Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Good State filed their joint list of candidates for the EU elections, with their manifesto focusing on peace, improving the EU's competitive edge, and efforts against centralisation. Top candidate on the list, retired journalist Uroš Lipušček, called on the government to diplomatically recognise Palestine at Friday's UN General Assembly session.

Vesna to contest EU election with only eight candidates

LJUBLJANA - The National Electoral Commission (DVK) decided that the non-parliamentary Vesna party can contest EU election with only eight candidates after one of its candidates died. The DVK endorsed Vesna's list of candidates with all nine candidates on 26 April, but last week Manca Košir, a retired journalism professor, author and actress, died. There will be a blank space on the slate where her name was written, the DVK decided, which was welcomed by the green party.

Flagpole spot in Republic Square picked for planned independence monument

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana's Republic Square, which faces the parliament building, has been picked as the location of a planned monument dedicated to Slovenia's independence, Deputy Prime Minister Matej Arčon announced after the government session. The monument, which enjoys cross-partisan support in the political arena unlike most WWII and post-WWII history topics, will be erected on the square's right-hand side, at the location of a flagpole upon which the Slovenian flag was lifted as independence was declared in 1991.

Law on parliamentary inquiry slated to change

LJUBLJANA - The Justice Committee amended on Wednesday legislation governing parliamentary inquiry to better protect persons that are the subject of investigation, a motion tabled by the National Assembly president that the opposition has decried as an attempt to hamstring inquiries. The key part of the proposed amendment is that the Constitutional Court may be petitioned to examine the constitutionality of the parliamentary decision initiating an inquiry.

Slovenia to set up computer chip competence centre

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will establish a national competence centre for computer chips and co-finance projects on chips and semi-conductors as part of Chips JU, a joint European undertaking. Chips JU will co-fund one competence centre in each participating country, the Digital Transformation Ministry announced. The government took note of the intention, along with the ministry's plans to sign an administrative agreement with Chips JU to enable Slovenia to co-fund projects on computer chips and semi-conductors.

Panvita downplays takeover fears

LJUBLJANA - Toni Balažič, the chairman of food company Panvita, dismissed concerns about the effects of the acquisition of a majority stake in the company by the Croatian firm Mplus. He told POP TV Wednesday evening all functions including development would remain in Slovenia and the company would responsibly manage the land it leases from the Farmland and Forest Fund.

Pirc Musar congratulates Macedonian president-elect

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar congratulated Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova on her victory in the second round of presidential election in North Macedonia. She said she looked forward to working together to build a European future for North Macedonia, its people and the whole Western Balkan region.

Govt told to optimise apprenticeship system

LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Education was urged to prepare a plan of measures to optimise the existing system of apprenticeship as the parliamentary Education Committee discussed how the system currently works. The session was requested by the opposition Democratic Party (SDS), which argued that countries throughout Europe are placing more and more emphasis on combining classroom instruction and work placement.

First state-funded wind turbine project agreed in far south

MARIBOR - In what is the first ever wind farm project in Slovenia with a state-owned investor, Dravske Elektrarne Maribor (DEM) announced a EUR 2.5 million contract with Hmezad TMT for the construction of a wind turbine in Mali Log in the far south of the country. DEM, which operates eight large hydro power plants on the Drava River and is part of state-owned power utility HSE, said construction would start before summer and probably be concluded at the end of 2024.

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