News roundup - Monday, 13 May

Ljubljana, 13 May - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 13 May:

Fajon hopes for closer relations as she visits Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UAE - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon met her Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan as part of her tour of the Middle East. The pair called for increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Fajon also advocated for strengthening economic cooperation between the countries and invited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to open an embassy in Slovenia.

Slovenian judge elected ECHR president

STRASBOURG, France - Marko Bošnjak, a Slovenian judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), was elected president of the court, becoming the first ECHR president from what are dubbed new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, or from any country that has joined the Council of Europe after 1963. He told the STA he saw this as a great expression of trust by his colleagues and a recognition to Slovenia.

Pirc Musar warns public not being informed properly about N-plant project

LJUBLJANA - Chiming into the debate on plans for a new nuclear reactor in Krško for the first time, President Nataša Pirc Musar called for a transparent debate, saying that while she is a supporter of nuclear energy, more questions than answers are currently on the table in what would be the biggest investment in the country's history.

Logar says he plans to run for SDS leader

LJUBLJANA - Anže Logar, an MP for the opposition Democrats (SDS) who in mid-2023 founded a platform that was expected to evolve into a party but has not, told the weekly Reporter that he sees no reason to pursue an independent political path but rather plans to run for SDS leader at the party's next congress. Janša responded to Logar's statements by saying on X that the SDS was not available for takeovers and that decisions in the SDS were made by party members.

Minister visits Slovenian community in Serbia

NOVI SAD/NIŠ, Serbia - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon started a multi-day visit to Serbia on Sunday to meet representatives of the Slovenian ethnic community there. In Novi Sad, he met representatives of the Slovenian associations from Vojvodina and Smederevo. Today, he continued his visit in Niš to meet representatives of associations from the south of the country.

Coalition partners relatively happy with work so far, opposition feels hampered

LJUBLJANA - Just over two years after the general election that led to Freedom Movement leader Robert Golob forming a government with the Social Democrats (SD) and the Left, the coalition partners are relatively satisfied with their work and cooperation in parliament. But they say much work still lies ahead. The two opposition parties, the Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi), are critical of the government and believe their work in parliament is being hampered by the coalition.

Parliament president says work running smoothly

LJUBLJANA - Halfway into the parliament's term, National Assembly President Urška Klakočar Zupančič told the STA in an interview that work is proceeding smoothly, and legislation is dealt with efficiently and quickly. Since the start of this parliament, almost 300 laws have been proposed and just over 200 passed. The number of laws passed in emergency procedure "stands out", because the country faced energy and cost of living crises, and a major natural disaster, she said.

NSi blocks vote on parliamentary inquiry bill with referendum motion

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly met for an emergency session to fast-track changes to parliamentary inquiry legislation, but the coalition's plan was thwarted by a motion for a consultative referendum filed by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi). The party, which obstructed the session, believes the bill, submitted by National Assembly President Urška Klakočar Zupančič, is designed to protect PM Robert Golob.

Bill to cap short-term rentals to 30 days a year

LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of the Economy and Tourism outlined a draft hospitality industry bill that regulates short-term rentals in a bid to address a shortage of housing in the country, limiting them to 30 days a year. However, municipalities will have an option of relaxing the rule if short-term rentals are not a burden. The bill will be sent into public consultation on Tuesday until 17 June and Minister Matjaž Han hopes it will be passed by the end of the year.

Petrol picked as part of consortium for TEN-T EV charging stations

LJUBLJANA - Energy group Petrol plans to set up 65 more charging stations for electric vehicles at 20 locations in Slovenia and 40 at 15 locations in Croatia as part of the Cross-E project, having been selected as one of the companies to boost charging infrastructure on the corridors of the TEN-T pan-European transport network.

Sale of Panvita sign of immaturity and foolishness, says expert

LJUBLJANA - The sale of Slovenia's agri-food company Panvita to the Croatian services group Mplus has come as no surprise to agricultural economics expert Aleš Kuhar. He sees it as a sign of immaturity and foolishness manifested in the actions of the past 20 years, on the part of experts but particularly when it comes to decision-makers.

Slovenian-Chinese Business Council calls for clarity and cooperation

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will have to clearly state what it wants its relationship with China to be, said the Slovenian-Chinese Business Council. Part of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the body believes Slovenia often approaches China in a dangerous way. The country "will have a hard time establishing good relations with China if we push Chinese companies out of tenders, such as in the second rail track projects, or if we threaten to deny tech giants access to the Slovenian market," it wrote.

Republika Srpska obliged to pay EUR 48m in damages to Slovenian builder

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Bosnia-Herzegovina's Republika Srpska entity will have to pay Slovenian builder Viadukt EUR 46 million in damages for unilaterally terminating a contract for the construction of hydroelectric power plants on the Vrbas River, Banja Luka portal Capital has reported. According to the report, an arbitration panel in London earlier this month rejected Republika Srpska's request to annul a 2022 decision that tasked it with paying EUR 46 million in damages to Viadukt for cancelling the project despite a valid contract.

Overhaul of Maribor-Šentilj rail track completed

MARIBOR - A ceremony marked the completion of the railway between Maribor and Šentilj. The project, which included an upgrade of 18km of the existing tracks and construction of nearly 4km of new tracks, was the largest Slovenian cohesion project in terms of investment in the last EU perspective. Carrying a price tag of EUR 314 million, the project received nearly EUR 129 million in EU funds and EUR 13 million from the Climate Change Fund.

EUR 9m available for development-oriented research projects

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Research Agency (ARIS) is offering EUR 9.19 million for research projects that will help the government draw up development and other policies aimed at boosting Slovenia's competitiveness and sustainable development. The funds are available as part of the CRP 2024 research programme for an inclusive, healthy, safe and responsible society, a highly productive economy, for life-long learning, and a healthy natural environment.

Faculty urges uni to end cooperation with Israeli institutions

LJUBLJANA - The leadership of the Faculty of Social Sciences urged the University of Ljubljana to suspend cooperation with Israeli universities and firms with ties with the Israeli arms industry. The move comes after Slovenian students started protesting in support of Palestinians last Wednesday. Support for the students' demands has been expressed by a number of departments at individual faculties of several universities, among others.

Free Palestine series of events starting in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - A week-long series events entitled Free Palestine got under way to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba. Panel discussion, talks, film screenings and exhibitions will be organised as part of the initiative. The project, remembering the 1948 violent displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arab Palestinians and the developments that have followed, has been organised in some form for several years by the Vodnikova Domačija house of literature and the Movement for the Rights of Palestinians.

Exhibition promotes wood and wood-processing industry

LJUBLJANA - Over a hundred products representative of Slovenian wood design were put on display at an annual exhibition aimed at promoting wood and wood products and the country's wood-processing industry. Held for the 16th year, the exhibition Charm of Wood will be running at Cankarjev Dom until 19 May, after which it will visit several other locations across the country.

© STA, 2024