News roundup - Monday, 17 June

Ljubljana, 17 June - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 17 June:

PM Golob blames SDS for low salaries of judges, fears new disparities

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob reiterated during questions time in parliament that the salaries of judges would be raised in line with the Constitutional Court ruling, while he suggested that the ruling could prove detrimental to fixing pay disparities in the public sector. He put much of the blame for the situation on the Democrats (SDS).

MP Žakelj denies media report about abuse of security oversight commission

LJUBLJANA - A news portal has reported the commission for security services oversight had received no report that would serve as a basis to visit the police last year after motorway company DARS and its then chairman, a senior member of the opposition NSi, were house-searched as part of a corruption investigation. The commission chair insists the visit was lawful.

Janša warns against another EPP coalition with left-leaning parties

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Forming a coalition with left-leaning parties again could be a path to defeat for the European People's Party (EPP), Democrats' head Janez Janša said on X after a meeting of EPP prime ministers and heads of opposition parties. He called for a coalition of the EPP and one right- and one left-leaning party. Janša also met Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and former Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Brussels today.

Only one state secretary left at Defence Ministry

LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed at a correspondence session Rudi Medved as Defence Ministry state secretary, effective on 14 July, because he will retire, the Defence Ministry said. This comes after Defence Minister Šarec was recently elected MEP and will leave the ministry to start his term in Brussels in mid-July. The only other senior official left at the ministry is the other state secretary Damir Črnčec, who served as state secretary for national security in the Marjan Šarec government.

WSJ: Judgement expected soon for Russian spies arrested in Ljubljana

NEW YORK, US - The Wall Street Journal reported that a court will hand down a judgement in the coming weeks in a secret trial against two Russian spies apprehended in Slovenia in December 2022. After the trial they could become a part of prisoner exchange between the US and Russia, the paper says. The pair were arrested on 5 December 2022 in Ljubljana and have been in detention ever since, with their children in foster care but allowed to have regular contact with their parents.

Legislative changes in works following xenophobic rally

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said changes to the criminal code and minor offences legislation were in the works following a public gathering of masked men chanting xenophobic slogans in Ljubljana city centre ten days ago. Answering a question from Predrag Baković, an MP for the coalition Social Democrats (SD), Poklukar said that the Justice Ministry was working on the changes to define the criminal act of public enticement of fear "with more precision and clarity". This, in turn, will give the police "firmer tools".

NLB to pay out EUR 110m in first of likely two dividend payouts

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of the bank NLB decided at a general meeting that the bank pay out EUR 110 million in dividends in June. This will presumably be the first of two payouts planned for this year, with the decision for a second round planned for the end of the year. The first payout is scheduled for 26 June and will amount to EUR 5.50 a share, NLB said in a press release. The bank said already at the start of the year that the second payout will be the same as the first, which means that total dividend payout would amount to EUR 220 million.

Telekom Slovenije AGM decides against second dividend payout

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of Telekom Slovenije approved the management's proposal to hold on to EUR 26.2 million in distributable profit, after having approved a EUR 40.3 million dividend payout for 2022 in February. The funds discussed today will be carried over into 2025. If Telekom owners decided the company should share the profit generated last year, the country's largest telecoms provider and networks operator would have to repay nearly EUR 4 million in state aid it received to mitigate the effects of high energy prices last year.

Golob admits peer violence not addressed effectively enough

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob admitted that the country is not very effective in managing peer violence as he answered a question from an opposition MP about violence at schools. He also believes that to address the issue legislative changes will be needed to empower teachers and redefine the roles of parents and teachers.

PM not happy with long flood replacement home procedures

LJUBLJANA - The priority flood repair works following August 2023 storms have all been completed, Prime Minister Robert Golob told the National Assembly during questions time. However, he said he wished that procedures regarding replacement homes for those whose houses are in unsafe locations were faster. "Response to the floods was swift and decisive but we will not be able to repair the consequences on the timeline we would have wanted," said Golob.

President's foundation to focus on youth, elderly

LJUBLJANA - The Alma Foundation, a non-profit founded by President Nataša Pirc Musar last September, presented at a news conference its mission to focus on career development for the young and on intergenerational cooperation, linking up with other organisations to bring about change in society. The idea for it emerged when Pirc Musar was campaigning to get elected president and faced challenges such as the care for the elderly and the youth, for which a president does not have many powers while they can be addressed on a voluntary basis, said her husband Aleš Musar, a co-founder of the foundation.

Another RTV Slovenija management board member resigns

LJUBLJANA - The four-member management board of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija has seen a third resignation in just over six months, as Andrej Trček has handed in his resignation, according to reports by the broadcasters' news portal MMC. This comes after management board member Simon Kardum stepped down in December and chairman Zvezdan Martić resigned in late May. The fourth management board member is employee director Franci Pavšer.

Angels in America declared best production at theatre festival

MARIBOR - The Ljubljana SMG theatre's production Angels in America won the Borštnik award for best play at the Maribor Theatre Festival on Sunday. It was directed by Nina Rajić Kranjac, who was also the director of last year's winner in this category. Two Slovenian productions based on the famous play by Tony Kushner were in the running for the main award. Actor Branko Šturbej accepted the Borštnik Ring for lifetime achievement.

BirdLife Slovenia first winner of nature conservation prize

ŠKOCJAN - DOPPS-BirdLife Slovenia was awarded on Friday the Rado Smerdu Prize, an award the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning introduced this year to honour and promote nature conservation efforts, for its contribution to protect bird species and improve their habitats. The NGO was praised as a hub for nature conservation development in this field, which has had a major impact on the development of the nature conservation profession in Slovenia.

Crime data shows decline in number of offenders in 2023

LJUBLJANA - The number of convicted offenders in Slovenia declined last year - among adults the figure dropped by nearly 6%, while the number of juvenile offenders decreased by 3%, the Statistics Office said. Offences against property were the most common recorded crime committed by adult offenders, primarily theft and fraud. Offences against property accounted for 35% of the convictions at criminal courts in 2023, or 1,788 convictions, of which 45% were thefts and 18% frauds.

Disgruntled culture NGOs want right to appeal funding decisions reinstated

LJUBLJANA - In an initiative coming after repeated disgruntlement and accusations following changes regarding the awarding of funds to NGOs active in arts and culture, several culture organisers have issued a demand for a reintroduction of applicants' right to appeal decisions by expert commissions in charge of funds distribution. They say that the Culture Ministry unilaterally abolished what they call the right to a defence in 2016 without any public debate. The petitioners are also requesting a review of all applications from 2016 to date that have been rejected without this right in place.

National free-of-charge e-book lending platform launched

LJUBLJANA - All members of Slovenian public libraries are able to access what are presently 2,000 digital book titles from various Slovenian publishers as of today. Slovenia's first public e-book lending platform, known as Cobiss Ela, recorded 500 e-book rentals within just a few minutes of its launch. The platform presently features 18 libraries and five publishing houses and is expected to also be joined by school and other libraries and be expanded with additional titles. It makes E-books accessible through the Cobiss+ web application.

Slovenia gets first outward-facing literary agency

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia got its first literary agency designed specifically to represent Slovenian and other authors and publishers abroad. Talking to the press, co-founders Zala Stanonik of the publisher Pivec and Senja Požar, a member of Publishers Without Borders, said they wanted all Slovenian authors and publishers to join.

Lake Blaguš camp with new beginning under Falkensteiner chain

SVETI JURIJ OB ŠČAVNICI - The camp by Lake Blaguš in northeastern Slovenia, which has been renovated under the ownership of the Austrian hotel chain Falkensteiner, will be reopened this weekend. Named Falkensteiner Premium Camping Lake Blaguš, the camp includes 47 plots in two size categories, and 20 mobile units, which are also divided into two types. Representatives of the camp see the investment as part of the efforts to attract tourists to the lesser known parts of the country.

Laško beer comes out on top in skit on best beers from Euro 2024 participants

MANCHESTER, UK/LAŠKO - In a Friday video that spread on social media, two content creators on the British news and entertainment portal LADbible declared the Slovenian Laško Zlatorog beer the best among selected brands from the 24 participating countries of Euro 2024 in Germany. The two Britons have tasted all the 24 selected beers via an elimination system mimicking the one used at the football tournament. In the "final", Laško defeated the Ukrainian beer Lvivske.

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