News roundup - Friday, 17 May

Ljubljana, 17 May - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 17 May:

Golob urges EU leaders to join Palestine recognition process

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob told the CNN he had addressed a letter to fellow EU leaders calling on them to join efforts to recognise Palestine. "By being united at European level, I think we can be a much more significant player on the international scene, specially in the Middle East. At the moment, there's lots of divergence between EU member states," he said.

Poklukar sees no change in Slovenian-Italian relations

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said there had been no change in Slovenian-Italian relations when it came to the border in the aftermath of a statement by Italian Interior Minister Antonio Tajani which the opposition interpreted as a vote of no confidence in Slovenia. Tajani's statement is "somewhat unfortunate and may have been taken out of context by the media", Poklukar told the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee.

Golob and Zelensky discuss security agreement

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob talked with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky focussing on defence cooperation, Zelensky said on X. He wrote "our teams are finalizing their work on a bilateral security agreement based on the G7 Vilnius Declaration. We agreed to sign it at the earliest opportunity." Golob also confirmed his attendance at the Peace Summit in Switzerland.

Slovenia still relies on Russian gas, Brussels says

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia continues to rely on Russian gas, imported via Austria, the European Commission noted on the second anniversary of the adoption of the plan to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels REPowerEU. Slovenia is also one of five EU states that have not cut gas consumption by 15% since August 2022, as voluntarily agreed at EU level.

Fajon highlights importance of Council of Europe values

STRASBOURG, France - The 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe is an opportunity to remember the importance of the values and norms of this organisation, said Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon as she attended a Council of Europe ministerial. "We all have to advocate for the protection of our European values, as unfortunately even in some parts of Europe we are witnessing the regression of democracy, the rule of law and human rights," said Fajon.

Slovenian authorities urged to deny entry to ship allegedly carrying arms for Israel

LJUBLJANA - A Slovenian pro-Palestinian movement and the leader of the Left urged the Slovenian authorities to deny entry to a ship that Spanish pro-Palestinian organisations claim is carrying arms to Israel. They said Slovenia must not be complicit in human rights violations in Gaza. The Borkum is currently on route to the port of Koper, according to ship tracker VesselFind. It is scheduled to make a port call on 22 May.

Anti-money laundering official question previous boss's conduct

LJUBLJANA - A parliamentary commission of inquiry into suspected meddling in the work of police and other independent bodies questioned Leo Pongračič, an employee of the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering who highlighted unusual practices under a previous boss, Damjan Žugelj, who is now the subject of a police investigation. He said Žugelj launched inquiries based on general anonymous complaints that targeted more bank accounts that usual.

Cvelbar Bek appointed ambassador to France

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Renata Cvelbar Bek has been appointed Slovenia's new ambassador to France where she will replace Metka Ipavic on 8 September. Ipavic will also be recalled from her post as a non-resident ambassador to Monaco and Morocco and as Slovenia's ambassador to UNESCO.

Banking conference calls for capital markets union

PORTOROŽ - Participants of a conference on financial systems in Central, Eastern and SE Europe hosted by the Slovenian central bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed that further steps need to be taken in Europe towards a banking union and a union of capital markets to support the development of companies and economies.

Slovenia gains two places on Rainbow Map, but issues persist

BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - Slovenia ranked 19th on the latest Rainbow Map, which is published annually by Europe's leading LGBTI organisation, ILGA-Europe. The country gained two places, but the NGO warns that the government has failed to renew its LGBTI action plan. An EU survey meanwhile suggests that bullying and harassment targetting LGBTI people is still rampant.

Petrol group's net profit drops 40% to EUR 15m in Q1

LJUBLJANA - The group around the fuel retailer Petrol generated EUR 1.5 billion in sales revenue in the first three months of the year, down 19% year-on-year, while net profit decreased by 40% to EUR 15 million. The group sold 855,700 tonnes of fuel and petroleum products, a year-on-year drop of 3%. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation were down 17% to EUR 49.2 million, mostly due to the "losses resulting from the energy price regulation".

Sava insurance group net profit increases by 48% in Q1

LJUBLJANA - The turnover of insurance group Sava increased by 18.4% to EUR 307.8 million in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year, with growth recorded in all operating segments. The group's net profit went up by 48.3% to EUR 29.8 million, shows a report published today. The year-on-year increase in turnover was primarily driven by growth in gross written premiums, which rose by 18.3% to EUR 301 million.

Minister says green transition unavoidable and necessary

CELJE - Green transition is necessary and unavoidable but it has to be just and inclusive, said Environment Minister Bojan Kumer at the start of the ministerial discussion on decarbonizing Southeast Europe at the SEEnergy conference. The ministerial was attended by ministers and high government representatives responsible for energy from 12 countries, including seven EU member states (Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece) and Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania.

Freedom Movement MP Pekošak to be substituted by Zlobko

LJUBLJANA - Monika Pekošak, an MP for the senior coalition Freedom Movement who resigned in April citing personal reasons will be substituted by Branko Zlobko, the National Electoral Commission announced. Zlobko, a retired military officer, is president of the Kočevje hunting associations alliance and a member of the management board of the Hunters Association of Slovenia.

The Greens focus on quality of life

LJUBLJANA - The Greens will prioritise health, quality of life and empowerment of people in its programme for the EU elections, the party's lead candidate MEP Klemen Grošelj told the press. They will advocate for human rights, a just green transition, gender and generational equality and a solidarity-based Europe.

Slovenia expects EBU to provide explanations about Eurovision

LJUBLJANA - The TV arm of the Slovenian public broadcaster, which is in charge of Slovenia's appearances in the Eurovision Song Contest, addressed several questions to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in relation to this year's music competition, including about the disqualification of the Dutch entry and Slovenia's public vote, saying the final result raised some suspicions, especially about the large number of "new" online voters.

Irregularities found at psychiatric clinic, management rejects report

LJUBLJANA - An in-depth review at the University Psychiatric Clinic in Ljubljana conducted after media reports about alleged violence against patients at the clinic, has not confirmed beyond doubt that the violence took place, but it did find several systemic irregularities, Radio Slovenija has reported. The management rejects the report as biased and unlawful.

Prosecutor dismissed because of drunk driving

MURSKA SOBOTA - The disciplinary tribunal of the Supreme State Prosecutor's Office has stripped Murska Sobota district prosecutor Anica Šoštarič of her post as a result of several disciplinary actions taken against her for drunk driving, reported the local Vestnik newspaper. Šoštarič reportedly caused a traffic accident while driving drunk and fled the scene and was also drunk at the workplace and behaved inappropriately towards her co-workers. She has appealed the decision, which the president of the disciplinary tribunal said would be made public once it becomes final.

Internet a mystery for 8% of Slovenians

LJUBLJANA - As many as 13% of Slovenians do not have digital skills and 8% have never used the internet, shows data by the Statistics Office, published ahead of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. Last year 13% of Slovenians had no digital skills, which is one percentage point higher than the EU average. The highest share of Slovenians lacking skills was among those aged 65 to 74, where 43% had no digital skills.

Fear, climate change in focus of art triennial

MARIBOR - The Maribor Art Gallery, a leading museum of modern art in the northeast, is opening today the ninth iteration of the Triennial of Art and Environment (EKO), this time focussing on fear amid severe consequences of climate change. The exhibition, termed Eyes in the Stone, will be on show at the Old Sanatorium until 28 July.

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