News roundup - Thursday, 23 May

Ljubljana, 23 May - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 23 May:

MPs adopt resolution on long-term use of nuclear energy, back referendum

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a resolution on long-term peaceful use of nuclear energy in Slovenia. The document is an expression of political will in favour of further use and development of nuclear energy in the country, including by expanding the existing nuclear power plant. All parties bar the Left also passed a proposal for a referendum on the planned new nuclear power plant in Krško. While most MPs described a new reactor as the only path to secure power supply, the junior coalition party argued the referendum was about getting a blank cheque for a potentially unviable project.

MPs pass act on cultural rights of ex-Yugoslav communities

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed with 50 votes in favour and 27 against an act on cultural rights of ethnic communities from the former Yugoslavia, nearly a month after the MPs rejected a motion for a consultative referendum by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi). The act introduces funding of cultural programmes for members of the communities from the Culture Ministry, while the government council in charge of issues related to these communities will become a permanent consultative body chaired by the culture minister.

FM Fajon calls for Palestine recognition ASAP

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that she saw no reason to hesitate to recognise Palestine, noting ahead of the government session that she would like to see the government make this decision as soon as possible so that the National Assembly may then vote on the proposal. The government discussed the issue, but did not make any decisions. Matej Arčon, a deputy prime minister, told reporters the timeline is not clear yet. "It may happen next week or in two weeks, in agreement with the strategy we set," he said. The government earlier set 13 June as the deadline.

Slovenia welcomes UN Srebrenica massacre resolution

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob and the Foreign Ministry welcomed the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly recognizing the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. The resolution establishing July 11 as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica stresses in an important way that the atrocities that happened almost 30 years ago must not repeat or be forgotten, Golob said. The Foreign Ministry said the resolution can contribute to peace, justice and reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Western Balkans.

Pirc Musar discusses cooperation in Albania

TIRANA, Albania - Continuing her official visit to Albania, President Nataša Pirc Musar met with her counterpart Bajram Begaj to explore prospects for closer cooperation between the two countries. This was also the main topic in talks with Prime Minister Edi Rama and Parliament President Lindita Nikolla. Another topic discussed was Albania's EU accession process. Pirc Musar noted Slovenia's welcoming the Albanian initiative exempting Albanian students from tuition fees, expressing hope that the proposed agreement on this would soon be implemented.

Police take action against suspected author of 2 April school shooting post

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana police have filed a criminal complaint against a 36-year-old man believed to have been behind an alarm-causing news portal comment announcing a school shooting in Slovenia after the 2 April shooting in Finland. In an investigation into the post under a news portal 24ur report on the tragedy in Finland, which said "On 10 April it will happen here", the criminal police seized several electronic devices and live ammunition during a house search.

Govt approves more funds for UN peacekeeping operations

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will contribute EUR 25,000 to UN peacekeeping operations this year and EUR 50,000 in 2025, as part of its support for extra-budgetary projects of the United Nations, under the government's decision made in response a request from the UN. In addition to its contributions to the UN regular budget and the Slovenian Armed Forces' contributions to the budgets of peacekeeping operations, Slovenia has contributed EUR 60,000 for arms control and disarmament, and EUR 20,000 in support of the UN project on improving peacekeeping security in the past four years.

Govt adopts bill to raise lowest pay in judiciary

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to increase the salaries of the lowest-paid judges and prosecutors. Deputy Prime Minister Matej Arčon said after the government session that the bill followed the ruling of the Constitutional Court. Issued nearly a year ago, the ruling says that the salaries of judges are so low that they are unconstitutional. Dependent on the general public sector pay agreement, which is still in the making, the bill would increase the lowest salaries of judiciary officials by three brackets.

Bill passed to provide legal recourse over 2013 bail-in

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a bill to provide legal recourse for junior creditors wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout. The law comes after the Constitutional Court found in the autumn of 2016 that those who lost their assets in the country's massive bank bailout in 2013 had no effective legal recourse. Unhappy with the bill, the Association of Small Shareholders (MDS) said it will ask the Constitutional Court to review it again.

Changes to liability insurance coverage passed

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the Compulsory Vehicle Insurance Act transposing a revised EU directive on insurance against civil liability in accidents involving vehicles. Government coalition MPs agree they bring better protection for victims of traffic accidents while the opposition fears more costs for farmers. Any trailer used together with a motor vehicle, whether it is coupled or uncoupled, will now be considered a vehicle and will have to be insured.

Most parties in favour of preferential vote proposal

LJUBLJANA - Seven out of ten parties involved in the campaign for the preferential vote referendum support the motion, as do two legal entities involved. The advocates believe the preferential vote would give voters more influence on the choice of MPs, while the opponents are concerned it would increase centralisation.

SDS wants parliament to discuss govt's poor performance

LJUBLJANA - Disappointed with the government's performance over the past two years, since it came to power on 1 June 2022, the opposition Democrats (SDS) filed to parliament a request for an emergency plenary session to adopt recommendations to the government to improve its performance. Th SDS accuses the government of the collapse of healthcare, a wave of strikes, and the delay in pension, health and tax reforms, among other things.

Research agency changes rules in face of discrimination against mothers, sick

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Research and Innovation Agency (ARIS) has changed its project manager appointment rules after coming under fire for discrimination, mostly against mothers and sick people, who are absent for longer periods of time. The new conditions are based only on substance-based criteria, abolishing the time-based criteria and taking into account researchers' entire work. This comes after a group of trade unions last week sent an open letter to ARIS, accusing it of discrimination against pregnant women, mothers and people forced into long absences by illness.

Port operator Luka Koper reports 7% lower Q1 profit

KOPER - Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's sole commercial port, saw its business affected by the crisis in the Middle East and tensions in the Red Sea in the first quarter of the year. Net profit fell by 7% year-on-year to EUR 15.4 million and revenue edged down by 1% to EUR 79.4 million. Earnings before interest were down by 9% to EUR 17.8 million, which the company said was still 13% above the target figure. Total maritime throughput was down by 7% to 5.3 million tons, 9% below plans.

Petrol shareholders allocate almost entire profit for dividends

LJUBLJANA - Petrol's shareholders approved the energy company's management proposal to allocate all but EUR 200,000 out of EUR 74.2 million in distributable profit for dividend payments. The shareholder meeting saw the management as well as some of the shareholders highlighting the impact of the fuel margins cap on the company's operations. The company's chairman Sašo Berger announced that the company would turn to the European Court of Human Rights over the issue and claim damages from the state starting from 21 June 2022.

Czech owner of Alpina moving part of production to Bosnia

ŽIRI - The Czech owner of Alpina, the Slovenian-based sports footwear maker, confirmed for the business portal Finance that it will close down part of production in Žiri in the west of the country and move it to a factory in Bosnia-Herzegovina. K&H,which bought Alpina in 2022, said the development department, sales and support services would remain in Slovenia but will be reorganised. It is estimated that 60 jobs will be lost at the company by the end of the year.

Consumer confidence in May unchanged over April, improves y/y

LJUBLJANA - The consumer confidence indicator in May stayed at the level recorded in April, but improved by four percentage points year-on-year, the Statistics Office said. The index remains three points below the long-term average, while compared to the 2023 average, it is still higher by seven points. What improved month-on-month were expectations about household finances (+3 points) and about the economic situation in the country (+1 point).

Druga Godba festival held for 40th time

LJUBLJANA - Druga Godba, Slovenia's leading international festival of world music, got under way at Križanke with a concert by duet Mats Gustafsson & Kimmo Pohjonen and another by Ibrahim Maalouf. French-Lebanon trumpet player Maalouf, the most popular instrumentalist in France, gave a concert on the same day at the same venue, accompanied by The Trumpets of Michel Ange. The festival, first organised in 1985, has since gained global recognition.

Witty book about dog wins Desetnica Prize

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Writers' Association awarded the Desetnica Prize for Slovenian children's and youth literature to Nataša Konc Lorenzutti for Jutri Bom Siten kot Pes (Tomorrow I'll Be Grouchy Like a Dog). The jury praised the book for good dialogues and comic elements. The book is a work of animal realism; its first-person narrator, Aksel, is a mixed breed that was adopted from an animal shelter.

Some 60,000 residents of Slovenia experience transport poverty

LJUBLJANA - An estimated 60,000 people in Slovenia, or just over 2.8%, experience transport poverty, and the situation varies a lot by region, according to a project that has looked into the matter. The researchers have found find that dependence on cars and the related high costs of personal mobility make people very vulnerable to mobility poverty.

© STA, 2024