News roundup - Friday, 21 June

Ljubljana, 21 June - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 21 June:

Minister Boštjančič's statement on cooperation with potential French far-right govt upset coalition

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg/LJUBLJANA - Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič told Politico that Slovenia could work with a far-right French government if Marine Le Pen's National Rally wins the upcoming general elections. He also feels the US election is "not that important" compared with developments in Europe. His statements about cooperation with the far right were decried by all government coalition parties, including his Freedom Movement. The Finance Ministry downplayed his statements in a press release, providing some explanations, including saying Politico took them out of the context while the full interview should be published in the coming days.

Fajon urges swift enlargement to W Balkans at forum in Austria

VIENNA, Austria - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said "EU enlargement to the Western Balkans is a matter of now or never" as she attended the European Forum Wachau alongside several European counterparts and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. She said both the EU and the Western Balkans must do everything for swift enlargement, and welcomed Borrell's initiative that ministers from Western Balkan countries should join the meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday. She believes "this should become a regular practice".

Slovenian EU court judge dies

LJUBLJANA - Marko Ilešič, who has served as Slovenia's judge at the Court of Justice of the EU since 2004, when Slovenia joined the EU, has died aged 76. Expressing condolences, the Justice Ministry pointed to his achievements and described him as a great legal expert, and President Nataša Pirc Musar said he gave away his knowledge selflessly. Ilešič's latest term - he was last re-appointed a year ago, would have ended in October 2027. He was elected president of the panel of judges for two successive terms, from October 2012 to October 2018.

Minister Arčon meets Slovenian mayors in Italy

TRIESTE, Italy - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon met with the newly elected mayors in the Trieste and Gorizia provinces in the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia to discuss the use of Slovenian language and topics that bring together and connect people on both sides of the border. A lack of teachers was identified as one of the main problems when it comes to teaching Slovenian in the areas around Trieste and Gorizia. Arčon did not rule out scholarships to encourage young people to study education or Slovenian language. Italy held its local elections alongside the EU elections.

Slovenian minority representatives critical of Austria's report

KLAGENFURT, Austria - Ethnic Slovenian Olga Voglauer, an MP for the Greens in Austria's parliament, and the association of Carinthia's Slovenian jurists, have criticised Austria's latest report on the situation of the Slovenian minority. Presented by Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser on Monday, the report notes the progress made regarding the Slovenian minority in this Austrian state. Voglauer said on Tuesday the minority's needs to step up multilingualism and equality of their language were only partially taken into account, and the Association of Slovenian Lawyers in Carinthia said on Friday no significant progress has been made recently, with the exception of a deal on federal budget co-funding of bilingual kindergartens. What is more, the report was produced without any discussion with minority organisations.

Chamber says national energy plan lacks investment estimate

LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said the new draft of the National Energy and Climate Plan is missing a plan to replace electricity generation sources after the TEŠ coal-fired power station is closed in 2033 and a new nuclear reactor is build. The new draft also lacks an "objective" estimate of required investment in production capacities and network until 2050, the GZS said after it submitted its comments to the Environment Ministry while acknowledging the document is much improved compared to its first version.

Some 200 workers of DARS protest unhappy with pay raise talks

LJUBLJANA - About 200 workers of the national motorway company DARS, or roughly a sixth of the total headcount, staged a protest to express their discontent with wage raise talks that ended in a deal with the management signed by two out of the three in-house trade unions. In mid-April, all three unions demanded a 22% raise, but the management said all it could offer now is a 4-5% raise as of July. Trade unionist Damir Lišić said workload is increasing amid a shortage of workers, and announced the workers could go on strike.

Business sentiment slightly up in June

LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia increased by 0.3 percentage points in June compared to May with the relevant indicator standing at -2.0 percentage points. In annual comparison the sentiment improved by 2.8 points, shows data by the Statistics Office. The monthly increase is the result of the growth of the consumer confidence indicator (+0.5 points) and the sentiment indicator for retail (+0.3 points). Sentiment in services dropped by 0.3% and in construction by 0.2%. Sentiment in manufacturing had no impact on the overall index.

Monthly wages in April higher in both public and private sectors

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's average gross pay in April reached EUR 2,343.89, up 1.3% in nominal terms and 0.3% in real terms compared to March. The average net pay in April totalled EUR 1,487.66, up by 1.2% in nominal terms and 0.2% in real terms, the Statistics Office said. In monthly comparison, the average gross salary in the public sector rose by 1.5% to EUR 2,580.50 and in the private sector by 1.3% to EUR 2,236.81.

Slovenia below EU average in GDP per capita and consumption

LJUBLJANA - In 2023, Slovenia reached 91% of the EU average of the GDP per capita expressed in purchasing power standards, while actual individual consumption was 13% lower than the EU average, shows data by Eurostat, which was presented by Slovenia's Statistics Office (SURS). Food prices in Slovenia were lower than in Austria, Italy and Croatia.

Housing prices up 6.3 y/y in first quarter, volume of deals drops

LJUBLJANA - Residential property prices in the first quarter of the year increased by 1.2% on quarter four of 2023 and 6.3% year-on-year, the Statistics Office said. Updated data for 2023 moreover shows that 840 new residential units were sold last year, 515 more than initially reported, while their prices rose by 10.1% and not 8.4%.

DARS decides to allocate distributable profit to reserves

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of the state-owned national motorway company DARS decided to allocate EUR 50 million in last year's distributable profit to reserves at their general meeting of shareholders. DARS posted EUR 525.3 million in sales revenue and EUR 140.5 million in net profit last year.

Mayors in southeast Slovenia and Posavje urge systemic Roma measures

NOVO MESTO - Mayors of municipalities in SE Slovenia and the Posavje region met to discuss Roma-related issues after a recent incident where a Roma student attacked his schoolmate in Brežice. The mayors noted the situation continues to deteriorate and called for systemic measures to curb the violence and crime perpetrated by some members of the Roma community. Novo Mesto Mayor Gregor Macedoni said that after a bill tabled by the municipalities was voted down last year, the government promised to prepare its own bill by the end of 2023. Peter Dirnbek Vatovec, a state secretary at the Labour Ministry, said systemic solutions would be drafted by the autumn.

Brežice council condemns school violence, calls for more police officers

BREŽICE - The Brežice municipal council strongly condemned all instances of peer violence at a meeting on Thursday, prompted by a recent incident involving an attack by a Roma student on another student in a local primary school. The council also urged the Interior Ministry to allocate additional police officers to the municipality, noting that police officers in the municipality are busy coping with mass illegal migrations, meaning they are unable to deal with other security challenges, including those related to the Roma community.

Ljubljana kindergarten head denies investigation by police, auditors

LJUBLJANA - Barbara Novinec, the head of the Galjevica kindergarten, who is the central figure of an anti-graft probe into deals of several of Ljubljana's public kindergartens, denied that Galjevica is being investigated by the police and the Court of Audit as indicated by a report by Dnevnik. The newspaper said the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) has scrutinised alleged favouring of certain service providers associated with Novinec and the related misuse of public funds. Novinec said the KPK had not found irregularities that would fall under its domain.

Exhibition The Flying Man, Stanko Bloudek, receives award in Portugal

LISBON, Portugal - The Portuguese Aviation Museum and the Technical Museum of Slovenia commemorated 100 years since the first air crossing of the South Atlantic with exchange exhibitions. The Slovenian exhibition received an award by the Portuguese Association of Museums in the category International Projects. The exhibition The Flying Man, Stanko Bloudek was created in 2009, 50 years after the death of the great Slovenian aviation pioneer and inventor Stanko Bloudek.

Contemporary arts triennial opens in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - The U3 Triennial of Contemporary Art kicked off at the Moderna Galerija museum of modern and contemporary art today under the title Against the Current of Time. The exhibition features works created in the last five years by some 40 Slovenian artists. It is a direct reflection of today's time, which should not be understood as a linear structure but a cyclical entity, said its curator Tevž Logar.

© STA, 2024