Saturday, December 22, 2007

Celebrations at Schengen Passes with Italy

"Trieste, 20th December - Italy and Slovenia are about to write another page in their history, following Ljubljana's entry to the European Union and the single currency. From midnight tonight frontier barriers will disappear, and from tomorrow onwards all passes will be free to traffic, without even the need to display an identity card. Ceremonies are already underway today to mark the entry of Slovenia into the Schengen area. They are to culminate with Saturday's most high-profile celebration, which is to take place in Rabuiese, in the presence of the President of the European Commission, Manuel Jose' Barroso and of Italy's Interior Minister Giuliano Amato."

Source: AGI News On

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Croatia May Back Down on Fishing Zone

"Croatia is likely to ease a planned enforcement of a protected fishing zone in the Adriatic in January, which has angered neighbours and worried the European Commission, President Stjepan Mesic said on Tuesday.

'We want to join the European Union and it is difficult to imagine that the (zone) will be enforced in its current form,' Mesic, who visited Brussels last week, told state radio.

Croatia, which hopes to become an EU member around 2010, is due to apply the zone, which covers roughly 56,000 square km, from Jan. 1 to preserve fish stocks and limit pollution. The plan is opposed by EU members Italy and Slovenia.

'I expect a compromise, a temporary solution until we join the EU. It is now important that experts agree on how to protect the Adriatic and regulate fishing quotas,' Mesic said."

Source: Javno

Slovenia denies plan for Kosovo independence

"Janez Janša has refuted the International Herald Tribune’s claims regarding a plan for Kosovo independence.

The Tribune yesterday writes that Slovenia has prepared a plan for Kosovo independence to be implemented in the first two months of 2008, and within 48 hours of Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany recognizing the province’s independence.

Afterwards, the United States and other countries would recognize Kosovo’s independence, adding that the plan involves a “carefully prepared declaration of independence from Priština, some time after the Serbian elections in early February,“ the Herald Tribune writes, quoting “high European Union officials“ as sources.

The daily says that Slovenia will present the plan in January on assuming the EU presidency, though after the EU meeting in Lisbon, Slovenian Prime Minister Janša dismissed the claims while talking to reporters."

Source: B92

Monday, November 26, 2007

Slovene inflation spike a warning to euro hopefuls

"An inflation spike following Slovenia's adoption of the euro has exposed weaknesses in the economy and fiscal policy and is a warning to eurozone aspirants to ensure deep reforms are in place before accession.

Although it is the richest of East Europe's ex-communist states, Slovenia, which joined the single currency in January this year, has a history of struggling with inflation, both when it was part of communist Yugoslavia and since independence in 1991.

In October the headline rate jumped to 5.1 percent, nearly double the average eurozone rate and up from 1.6 percent in the same month of last year. While consumer prices have been rising across the continent, analysts said the larger jump in Slovenia shows how the economy is struggling to cope with the competitive pressures that accompanied joining the euro zone."

Source: Reuters

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Slovenian customs to strike over border changes

"Slovenian custom agents on the border with Croatia will strike at midnight Sunday in a dispute over working conditions once the country joins the open-border Schengen trade area, reports said.

The open-ended action, which will see agents take longer over their work so as to slow down the passage of vehicles across the border, comes four weeks before Slovenia joins the European Union's Schengen visa regime on December 21.

Slovenia's border with Croatia will become the border of the Schengen area, and the customs agents union is demanding talks with the government on the subsequent reorganisation of their work, higher salaries and more benefits."


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Slovenia promises support for Turkey's EU membership bid

"Visiting Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa on Wednesday pledged his country's support for Turkey's bid for the European Union (EU) membership.

Jansa made the statement at a joint press conference following his talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital.

Slovenia, which is to take the rotating EU presidency in 2008, extends full support to enlargement of EU, and the EU reform agreement to be signed in December is very important within that scope, Jansa said.

Jansa stated that the recent Progress Report of EU on Turkey was objective, and they believe Turkey will rapidly fulfill adjustment efforts.

Jansa also recalled that Turkey and Slovenia are allies in NATO, while thanking Turkey for its support to Slovenia's NATO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) memberships."

Source: Xinhua

Slovenian government crisis averted

"Slovenia's centre-right government under Prime Minister Janez Jansa won a parliamentary vote of confidence by 51 votes to 33 on Monday.

Jansa proposed the vote of confidence because he saw Slovenia's unity under threat in the run-up to the country's EU presidency, which begins on 1 January 2008. "

Source: Courrier international

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Slovenian workers stage mass protest for higher salaries

" Police said that about 15,000 protesters arrived in the capital by bus from all over the country, while organizers estimated that the turnout was 70,000 people.

The protesters wearing red bibs converged on one of Ljubljana's main squares, where heads of all six trade union associations urged the employers, who have so far refused to budge on wage demands, to heed the calls for change.

Addressing the crowd, union leaders repeated the threat of a general strike if no progress was made in the talks with employers on wage increases.

'We hope that the employers will come to their senses. If there is no progress in negotiations, we will be forced to stage a general strike,' said Dusan Semolic of the ZSSS, the largest trade union in Slovenia, 'this rally is the last warning for the employers.'

The protesters were joined by representatives of students and pensioners. They walked down Ljubljana carrying banners which condemned employers' policy and salaries which lag behind inflation and living costs."

Source: Xinhua

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Slovenia's PM: Cabinet might resign after opposition candidate elected president

"Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa said Tuesday that his Cabinet might resign following the overwhelming victory of the opposition-backed candidate in a weekend presidential vote.

'We will analyze the situation further, but all possibilities are open, including the resignation of the government,' Jansa told reporters after a meeting of his center-right Cabinet.

Longtime diplomat Danilo Tuerk, who was supported by several leftist opposition parties, was elected president in Sunday's elections with 68 percent of the vote — more than twice as much as Lojze Peterle, who was backed by Jansa's governing coalition.

Jansa insisted that Tuerk's campaign 'was directed entirely at settling accounts with the government.'

'It is particularly worrying that a lot of energy was invested in blackening the government abroad,' Jansa said, claiming his opponents portrayed Slovenia 'as Belarus' or some other authoritarian country.

'That makes the government's work more difficult, even its routine duties, and especially its preparations for taking over the European Union presidency,' he said.

Slovenia, which joined the EU and NATO in 2004, will assume the EU's rotating, six-month presidency Jan. 1."

Source: International Herald Tribune

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tuerk leads in Slovenia elections

"Leftist former diplomat Danilo Tuerk is set to become Slovenia's new president, as preliminary results suggest he has a huge lead over his centre-right rival.

Former prime minister Lojze Peterle conceded after exit polls showed Mr Tuerk getting almost 70% of the vote. Mr Peterle - who helped lead Slovenia to independence from Yugoslavia - was well behind despite topping a first-round vote last month. Mr Tuerk, 55, was backed by the main left-wing opposition parties.

Mr Peterle had the support of the governing centre-right coalition. But the 59-year-old did not secure enough support to win outright in October, and has since fallen behind in the polls. Mr Peterle conceded almost immediately. 'I expected a better result,' he said."

Source: BBC NEWS

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Slovenian PM vows to expand cooperation with China

"Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has said the cooperation between his country and China has been developing well and further expanding all-round bilateral cooperation is in the interests of both sides.

Jansa, who is scheduled to visit China from Nov. 8 to 11, told Xinhua in a recent written response that his visit is 'an excellent opportunity not only to positively assess the past cooperation but also to set goals for further strengthening of bilateral ties.'

He said a delegation of 50 successful companies and institutions from Slovenia will accompany his tour to Beijing in a bid to enhance economic ties."

Source: Xinhuanet

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Slovenia puts climate change, energy at top of its EU presidency

"Slovenia will put climate change, energy and economic reforms at the top of the European Union's agenda when it takes over the union's presidency in January, the country's prime minister said Tuesday.

In addition, after meeting with European Commission President Manuel Barroso, Prime Minister Janez Jansa said he would push EU governments to quickly ratify the reform treaty European leaders will sign next month. The treaty includes changes in decision-making rules designed to make the union function more effectively.

'We will follow closely the ratification process of the reform treaty and encourage our colleagues to speed up as much as possible the ratification process,' Jansa said at a press conference with Barroso. The new treaty, if approved by all 27 member nations, would take effect in 2009."

Source: International Herald Tribune

Monday, November 5, 2007

Opposition candidate ahead in Slovenia presidential race

"The centre-left opposition candidate in Slovenia's presidential election, Danilo Turk, is expected to gain a clear victory in next weekend's second-round vote, opinion polls showed, AFP reports.

Turk won 24.47 percent support in the first-round vote on October 21, behind the ruling centre-right coalition's candidate, former prime minister Lojze Peterle, with 28.73 percent.

But nationwide polls carried out this weekend by private POP TV and state television showed Turk, a relative newcomer in Slovenian politics, could win between 68 percent and 68.9 percent in the run-off on November 11. "

Source: FOCUS

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tus launches Slovenia’s third mobile network

"Slovenia’s Tus Mobil, owned by domestic retail magnate Mirko Tus, has announced that it will launch commercial services over its own GSM network on 31 October, Slovene Press Agency reports. The cellco will offer new subscription plans covering bundled voice minutes, text messages and data use, in competition with state-owned market leader Mobitel and Telekom Austria subsidiary Si.Mobil.

Tus Mobil currently offers nationwide services via roaming on market leader Mobitel’s network, but is building out its own infrastructure in phases. The network currently covers 39.2% of the population, while comprehensive coverage is expected in 2009, according to Tus Mobil director Marko Fujs. Three-year investment needed to complete the rollout project is estimated at EUR200 million (USD289 million), with at least EUR20 million already spent. Tus Mobil is a subsidiary of Tus Telekom (including Voljatel), which offers fixed line telephony, broadband internet access and IPTV."

Source: TeleGeography Research

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Slovenian ex-deputy minister extradited from Canada to serve sentence for corruption

"Slovenia's former deputy economics minister, who fled the country before being convicted of corruption, was extradited from Canada on Wednesday, police said.

Boris Sustar, who was arrested in Canada in July, is to serve six years in prison for receiving kickbacks from companies in exchange for helping them get state funds and loans from the Economics Ministry, where he was a deputy minister from 1997-2000.

Sustar, 45, is the most senior government member to be convicted of corruption in Slovenia."

Source: International Herald Tribune

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IMF's Projections for Slovenia Incorrect

"Finance Minister Andrej Bajuk has assessed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has underestimated Slovenia's economic growth in its projections. Slovenia's growth will top 5.4% this year and will definitely also exceed the IMF's projections for next year, Bajuk said on the margins of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington.

The governor of the Slovenian central bank, Marko Kranjec, meanwhile noted that the officials he had met in Washington were mainly interested in Slovenia's high inflation, while he also announced that the next IMF mission would visit Slovenia in late 2008. The pair held a number of bilateral meetings on Saturday, and took part in the session of the International Monetary and Financial Committee. "

Source: GCO

Monday, October 22, 2007

Presidential Vote Heads to Second Round

"Veteran Slovenian politician Lojze Peterle was the victor of the presidential poll with 27.5%, well short of the 50% needed for an outright win and below what the polls had forecast for him, as two left-leaning candidates fought it out for second place.

While Peterle looks a sure run-off contender, as even votes from abroad cannot change his lead, it is as yet unclear who will be his rival due to an extremely close finish by former senior UN diplomat Danilo Tuerk and ex-central bank governor Mitja Gaspari. The latest unofficial results give Tuerk 24.55%, ahead of 24.16% for Gaspari for second place. "

Source: STA

Friday, October 19, 2007

Telekom Slovenije M&A Action

"...a dozen companies have submitted offers for the 49 percent stake in the national (Telecom) operator that's being sold by the Slovenian government, which will still hold a 25 percent stake after the divestment.

Slovenia's Economic Ministry announced that 12 companies had submitted non-binding bids by the deadline, which was Monday this week. The dozen include private equity firms The Carlyle Group LLC and Providence Equity Partners , Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) subsidiaries Magyar Telekom Plc (Hungary) and Hrvatski Telekom (Croatia), and Oger Telecom from the United Arab Emirates.

That group will now go into the second phase, which will involve submitting binding bids once a full due diligence process is completed.

Telekom Slovenije reported an operating profit of €46.3 million ($66 million) from revenues of €380.8 million ($541 million) in the first half of this year. "

Source: Telecom News Analysis

Peterle Leads, Run-Off Expected in Slovenia

"A former independence leader remains the most popular presidential candidate in Slovenia, according to a poll by Delo. 28.5 per cent of respondents would back Lojze Peterle—also a former prime minister—in this Sunday’s ballot.

International law professor Danilo Tuerk is second with 20 per cent, followed by Central Bank governor Mitja Gaspari with 16.9 per cent, and Zmago Jelincic of the Slovenian National Party (SNS) with 16 per cent.

The presidential election is scheduled for Oct. 21. If no candidate garners more than 50 per cent of all cast ballots, a run-off would take place on Nov. 11."

Source: Angus Reid Global Monitor

Slovenia beats Britain in safe births

"Britain comes only 19th in a worldwide survey of the safest places to become pregnant and give birth.

Although Britain makes it into the “lowest risk” category in a new study by Population Action International, it is bettered by some surprising nations, including Cuba, Estonia, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia and Singapore.

The league tables, headed by the Netherlands, compares the risks of dying in pregnancy and childbirth by analysing nine indicators. These include the maternal death rate, the infant mortality rate, the proportion of birth attended by skilled health personnel, the prevalence of HIV/Aids, the percentage of women married by the age of 18, adolescent fertility, and coverage of antenatal care."

Source: Times Online

Monday, September 3, 2007

Stifled Speech in Slovenia?

Slovene journalist Blaž Zgaga has just published an open letter in the Prague Post decrying wholesale political censorship of the press in Slovenia:

"Open letter to people who live in the European Union: In Slovenia, a sister country to the Czech Republic, many articles are censored that express any critical statements toward our prime minister, Janez Janša, our government or any of its policies.

For example, my newspaper, Večer, scrapped an opinion piece I wrote about how the new chief of the Slovenian Army was selected. Editors had previously planned for my column to run at the top of the editorial page.

The next day, I wrote about a change in policy that allows our secret services to eavesdrop on citizens. That column wasn’t published, either. These types of opinion columns were always assigned by editors and run in the past. Since January, however, I have not been called on to write any opinion columns.

According to research by the Peace Institute, an international nonprofit group with offices in Ljubljana, there are three types of press censorship in Slovenia. The first type of censorship is when sentences or whole paragraphs of text are deleted or changed without the consent of the author. Second on the list is when a newspaper refuses to publish articles or opinions after they have been assigned by editors. The third kind is people and topics that are verboten to writers if editors believe writing about them could disturb the government.

All three types of censorship exist at my newspaper and, unfortunately, also at a majority of other major Slovenian publications. At newspapers, top editors and the chief executive officer make these decisions. That means the distinction between editorial and management is practically dissolved in most Slovenian media."

The full text of
Zgaga's open letter in the Prague Post can be found online here.

Three ministers resign under pressure

"Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said Thursday that he has accepted the resignation of three embattled ministers from his cabinet, in order to soothe poor relations with the opposition ahead of the country's presidency of the European Union.

Health Minister Andrej Brucan, Transport Minister Janez Bozic and High Education Minister Jure Zupan were under huge pressure over what the opposition said was their poor record.

Jansa told reporters that he has accepted the resignations, informed the parliament about them and promised to appoint the replacements soon. "

Source: DPA

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bridges Torn Down on Slovenia-Croatia Border

"With Slovenia entering Schengen territory, there will be 60 border crossings left, 27 of them for border traffic, on the 670 km long border with Croatia, and 115 different bridges and roads used by the local population will be either blocked or torn down, writes Ljubljana daily newspaper Delo.

Delo writes that bridges on Sutla, built by the local population, with continue to be torn down, which the Slovenian police justifies with the introduction of the Schengen system of border supervision and danger of illegal immigration or crime across the border.

Bridges being torn down will not affect any of the citizens who live next to the border with Croatia. Only the crossings that are not used very often or are abused for illegal migrations and crime will be removed, Ljubljana police spokesman Drago Menegalija tells Delo in response to the inquiry about the bridges between Dobovac and Bistrica na Sutli being torn down, which Slovenian and Croatian media had reported. "

Source: Javno

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Slovenia Third Safest Country in Europe for Foreign Investors

"Slovenia ranks third among 31 European countries included in a rating evaluating investment risks for foreign investors from a human resource perspective conducted by the Federation of European Employers (FedEE).

According to FedEE's web site, Poland was the safest choice for foreign investors, followed by Denmark, Slovenia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The survey, which included 27 EU members, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, rated the countries on the basis of 15 quantifiable factors related to labour supply, human capital, employee relations, inflationary pressures, labour costs and labour flexibility, according to FedEE's web site."

Source: STA

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Slovenia First to Be Connected to SIS

"Slovenia is the first among the nine candidates for entering the Schengen passport-free zone to have established a full link to the central Schengen Information System (SIS), Interior Minister Dragut in Mate said on Friday, 20 July in Bratislava.

Slovenia will be followed by Hungary and Estonia in establishing the full link. 'This means that the system is working,' Mate said.

Mate, attending a meeting of the candidate countries, added that the country's preparations for joining the zone are proceeding according to plan, as the draft report on the additional evaluation of the air border shows that the Ljubljana airport complies with Schengen standards.

Slovenia's main airport underwent the evaluation in early July after the airport failed the check last June."

Source: STA

Gender Pay Gap in Slovenia among Smallest in EU

"While women in Slovenia earn about 8% less than men, women in the EU earn on average 15% less than their male colleagues, a report by the European Commission says.

Only in Malta and Belgium was the gender pay gap smaller than in Slovenia, according to a Eurostat survey from 2005 that had been included into the report, which was presented in Brussels on Wednesday, 18 July."

Source: STA

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Slovenia sets new presidential election for Oct. 21

"Slovenia will hold new presidential elections on October 21 when the five-year term of President Janez Drnovsek expires, parliament speaker France Cukjati announced Friday.

Drnovsek, 57, said he would not run for the post again. But three prominent public figures — a former Central Bank governor, an ex-assistant to former U.N. Secretary General and a member of the European parliament — have already announced their candidacies.

The elections would be the fourth since the country of 2 million declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. Slovenia joined the European Union and NATO in 2004 and is to take over EU's rotating six-month presidency on Jan. 1, 2008.

All of the three main candidates will run as independents, although each has political backing. The new president takes office in December."

Source: IHT

Thursday, July 19, 2007

FM Tells Independent SE Europe an Opportunity, not a Burden

"Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel wrote in an op-ed for Thursday's issue of UK daily Independent that the 'EU should stabilise its southern flank' by including as soon as possible the countries of SE Europe, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

'We should start thinking of south-east Europe as an opportunity, not as a burden,' Rupel wrote in his commentary and pointed to not only tourism and cultural attractions but also to energy connections and the diversity of the region's human resources. According to him, the EU needs 'to fill the gap between Slovenia and Greece sooner rather than later - or risk paying a much higher price in the future.'"

Source: GCO

FM Rupel Asks Miliband for Assistance in EU Presidency

"The priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency topped the agenda as For eign Minister Dimitrij Rupel held talks on Thursday with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, with Rupel asking for the UK's assistance in climate change, the Middle East and the Western Balkans. 'We will need British help here,' Rupel said.

Great Britain wishes to work closely with the Slovenian presidency, Rupel said after the talks. 'They are a lot more experienced than we are in presiding the EU, and they expect us to tell them what we know about the 'Balkans quarrels' and issues underway regarding the UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo.'

Rupel also invited Miliband and Gordon Brown, the new British prime minister, to attend several events taking place in Slovenia during its stint as EU president."

Slouce: GCO

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Heather Mills buys holiday home in Slovenia

According to the Daily Mail, Heather Mills has purchased a house in Slovenia that was formerly used by the country's president as a holiday retreat.

"The estranged wife of Sir Paul McCartney is said to have paid £400,000 for the house in the former Yugoslavia.

A senior Slovenian government official has appeared on TV to confirm that the property, once used by president Janez Drnovsek, had been bought by Miss Mills.

Bozo Predalic, who helped negotiate the deal, said: 'Miss Heather Mills has acquired the villa with her bid of 610,000 euros plus taxes. There were just two bidders and we took the highest.'

The wooden house stands alongside a wood and beside a mountain. It is close to Lake Bohinj and has a large garden.

During her split with Sir Paul it was reported that 38-year-old Miss Mills was looking for a property in the country as an escape from the UK. She spent several weeks in Slovenia, staying with friends.

The country holds bitter-sweet memories for the former model. She fled to Slovenia some 17 years ago when her first marriage - to a dishwasher salesman - broke down. She worked as a ski instructor in the Slovenian Alps where she fell in love with a colleague called Milos. The pair dated for several months before deciding to end their relationship."

Source: Daily Mail

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Slovenian stock market may be peaking

"The Slovenian stock rally has made the equity market of the former Yugoslav republic more expensive than China's. Now investors say it's time to sell.

'We are gradually reducing Slovenian shares because the market feels hot,' said Jernej Kozlevcar, a manager at Triglav Asset Management in the capital, Ljubljana. 'Recent growth of the market is mainly based on speculation about consolidation and less on business results.'

The Slovene Stock Exchange index, known as the SBI20, was the best-performing equity benchmark in the world last quarter, jumping 39 percent in dollar terms, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It has more than quadrupled since the end of 2002, paced by Petrol, the largest Slovenian refiner and retailer of petroleum products, and Intereuropa, a logistics company.

Companies in the index trade at an average of 38.9 times estimated earnings, more than twice as much as their average for the past year. The price/earnings ratio is also more than double that of the Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Markets index, a global gauge for developing economies. Members of the CSI 300 index in China trade at 32.9 times earnings."

Source: International Herald Tribune

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Prince Caspian Movie Filming in Slovenia

"Filming on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has now begun in Bovec with a team of hundreds.

But this year’s largest Disney film project, Prince Caspian, is wrapped in a shroud of mystery even after the first few days of filming. Only a few things are known - for instance, that they have built a 60 metre long wooden bridge.

However, more information will become available next week when the producers and their assistants arrive in Bovec. Until then, only those who are involved in the filming have permission to enter the location.

Security man: 'You must turn off the news camera because they are filming there.'

The filming location is heavily guarded, so we could only see it from a distance. 'Narnia' could not even be seen from the air, because the air space above Bovec is closed. It’s also forbidden to reach the area by the river."

Source: NarniaWeb

Slovenia takes up role of EU presidency in Macedonia

"As of July 1, Slovenia represents the Portuguese EU presidency in Macedonia and Montenegro, where it will perform duties on behalf of Portugal as long as Slovenia takes-over the EU presidency next January.

Slovenia, according to rules set by the European Union, will hold the role of EU presidency in Skopje and Podgorica for a period of one year, as Portugal which took over the rotating EU presidency on July 1 has no embassies in Macedonia and Montenegro."

Source: Makfax

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Russian FM cancels Slovenian trip

"Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cancelled his visit to Slovenia, where he was to take part in the traditional ceremony at Russian Chapel near Vrsac.

The meeting with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has been canceled as well. Jansa had previously cancelled his participation in the economic forum in St. Petersburg on 9-10 June, where he was to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin."

Source: Makfax

Friday, June 22, 2007

Slovenia lawmakers will consider changing rules

"Slovenia's lawmakers will next month start debating changes to gaming and business-ownership laws that would allow Harrah's Entertainment to partner on a $1 billion casino development near the Italian border.

The Las Vegas gaming company agreed in early June to take a 49 percent stake in partnership with Hit, a Slovenia-based developer, for a mixed-used project in western Slovenia.

The agreement allows Slovenia's Finance Ministry to propose and debating changes to regulations that only allow a 20 percent stake by foreign investors in businesses and to the country's gaming tax, which is close to 60 percent.

'The government has a desire to see an increase in tourism,' said Jan Jones, Harrah's senior vice president of government relations. 'They also realize they need partnerships to realize that goal.'

Jones said the current tax rate is prohibitive for Harrah's to see a return on its investment.

The casino would be Eastern Europe's largest, with 1,500 rooms, 2,000 slots, table games, convention and event space, clubs, bars, restaurants and a spa. The partnership is considering six building sites around the western city of Nova Gorica."

Source: Casino City Times

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Slovenia gets new Central Bank governor

"Slovenia's parliament on Tuesday approved a new Central Bank governor, after months of political wrangling.

Marko Kranjec, 67, a prominent economics and financial expert who was the young nation's first finance minister and once worked at the World Bank, was supported by 74 deputies in the 90-seat chamber. One voted against him, others abstained.

Slovenia's Central Bank was without a governor — who automatically is a member of the European Central Bank — for nearly three months as a result of President Janez Drnovsek and Prime Minister Janez Jansa's argument over the candidates."

Source: IHT

EU Warns Slovenia Again over Finance Sustainability

"The European Commission has issued another warning to Slovenia over the sustainability of its public finances. In an annual report on the finances of the eurozone countries, the Commission says the structure of Slovenia's finances is expected to weaken in the future.

Slovenia is not among the ten countries in the report that the Commission expects to achieve their mid-term goals in the field in 2008.

The Commission says in the report that the eurozone members are not doing enough to utilise the current favourable economic situation to undertake structural changes and to shore up the public purse.

The public finances of the eurozone countries have improved in recent times not on account of government measures but because of higher-than-expected tax revenues, a result of the current economic upswing, the report suggests. "

Source: STA

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pakistan pilots get bravery award

"Two Pakistani pilots who carried out a daring rescue of a mountaineer are to be given Slovenia's top award for bravery, Pakistani officials say.

Slovenian Tomaz Humar got stranded on the western end of the 8,125m Nanga Parbat mountain in the Himalayas two years ago. He remained for around a week on top of the world's ninth-highest peak.

The helicopter pilots plucked the 38-year-old from an icy ledge 6,000m up the peak known as 'killer mountain'.

The Slovenian president will present Lt Col Rashid Ullah Beg and Lt Col Khalid Amir Rana with the Golden Order for Services in the country's capital, Ljubljana, this month 'for risking their lives during the rescue mission', a Pakistan army statement said."

Source: BBC

Slovenian president meets China's Tibet Autonomous Region delegation

"Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek met on Sunday with a China's Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) delegation which is visiting there to expand the ties between the former Yugoslav country and China.

During the meeting at Strmol Castle in northern Slovenia, Drnovsek said that every individual and every country needed to play their part in fighting climate change, and large countries such as China, India and the United States have an important role to play in preventing pollution.

Drnovsek also pointed to the need to preserve cultural heritage and tradition. He said that globalization was positive as long as it made one's life easier, but must not be allowed to destroy the traditional ways of life."

Source: People's Daily Online

Monday, June 11, 2007

Slovenia asks EU to extend roaming zone: CommsUpdate : TeleGeography Research

"Slovenia has called on the European Commission to extend new rules cutting the costs of cross-border mobile roaming within the European Union to candidate countries, including Croatia and Turkey, the Slovenian Press Agency reports. ‘Roaming should be one of the priority fields that candidate countries must transpose into their legislation as they implement the EU body of law,’ Economy Minister Andrej Vizjak said, adding that ‘It is in Slovenia’s interest that this matter be arranged with candidate countries as soon as possible.’"


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Majority of Slovenians Satisfied With Euro Switch

"Two-thirds of Slovenians are satisfied with the switch to the euro, but the majority believe that the changeover caused price hikes, according to a Eurobarometer survey on the euro changeover in Slovenia, which was published in Brussels on Thursday.

The majority of Slovenians are convinced that the euro strengthens Slovenia's position in the international community, while paying with euros makes them more European.

More than four-fifths believe that the changeover was simple, while only 2% say that the change of prices from tolars to euro presented a problem."

Source: GCO

Poll: Pahor and SocDems in the Lead

"The opposition Social Democrats (SD) are gaining in popularity, a poll commissioned by daily Vecer has found. MEP and SD leader Borut Pahor topped the poll on the presidential race front, while the SD holds the lead among parliamentary parties.

Pahor, who is waiting for his party's endorsement to enter the 2007 presidential race, would receive 40.5% of votes, while 24.6% of the respondents would support MEP Alojz Peterle, who enjoys the backing of all three centre-right coalition parties.

If the presidential poll were held this Sunday, Zmago Jelincic, leader of the opposition National Party (SNS), would take third place, with 9.8%, followed by incumbent Janez Drnovsek, who would get only 4.9%."

Source: GCO

Economic and Social Council Increases Work Permit Quotas

"The Economic and Social Council, the industrial relations forum, has reached an agreement on Monday to increase the quota for work permits for foreign workers from 18,500 to 24,500.

The members of the council also agreed to prepare a detailed analysis of employment of foreigners as part of the economic migrations strategy, which the Labour, Family and Social Affairs Ministry is to draft by September.

The ministry proposed to increase the quota because only some 400 work permits were left by the end of May, representative of the national Employment Service explained. The ministry thus suggested that the quota should increase by 4,870 permits."

Source: GCO

Slovenia agrees to clear way for Harrah's entertainment park

"The Slovenian government has agreed to amend legislation to allow the US firm Harrah's to help build a 750-million-euro (1.01-billion-dollars) entertainment park in western Slovenia, a spokesman said Tuesday.

'The government has decided to propose parliamentary changes in the gaming law in order to enable this and similar projects,' Andrej Sircelj, Finance Ministry state secretary told journalists.

He said the stake in domestic gaming companies that could be owned by foreign investors would be increased from 20 to 49 percent and the tax on profits from gaming would be cut from 38 percent to 17.5 percent.

The decision comes two years after Harrah's Entertainment and the Slovenian Hit Group, holding the largest casinos in the tiny European Union state, started talks on building a mega-entertainment park in Nova Gorica, a region bordering Italy."

Source: AFP

Monday, June 4, 2007

E.Leclerc Opening Supermarket in Maribor

"E.Leclerc, a leading European retailer, will open its second outlet in Slovenia in Maribor on 7 November in an investment worth EUR 26m. The shopping centre will create 200 new jobs and is expected to attract two million shoppers and turn over EUR 50m a year, its owner, Alain Gomez, told reporters in Maribor on Wednesday, 30 May.

The centre will spread over an indoor area of nearly 20,000 square metres, the supermarket covering a quarter of this, while the remaining area will accommodate 31 shops. The car park will have the capacity for 1,000 vehicles.

According to Gomez, the supermarket will offer 70,000 goods, one fifth of them French-made, while all major Slovenian brand names will also be available. Shoppers are expected to come from as far as Croatia, Austria and Hungary."

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Work Permit Quota for Foreign Workers in 2007 Reached

"The work permit quota for non-EU workers was exceeded for the first time in a decade, since many citizens of former Yugoslavian republics are looking for work in Slovenia, a senior Slovenian official said after a meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Brussels.

Marko Strovs, state secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, said on Wednesday, 30 May that the quota amounted to approximately 54,000 work permits.

It is time to discuss whether Slovenia should raise the number of work permits issued per year, which is what employers strive for, said Strovs, adding that the quotas should remain the domain of the member states.

According to Strovs, too few work permits present a problem for Slovenia, since the domestic workforce does not cover all of the less paid jobs due to a well developed education system."

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Muslims Plan Slovenia's First Mosque

The Muslim community of Slovenia is planning to build the country's first mosque and an Islamic cultural center.

"Slovenia's mufti Nedzad Grabus and Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Jankovic signed a letter of intent on the sale of land for the mosque and adjoining buildings, the Serbian B92 radio reported.

The Muslim worship center will be built on an area of 4 acres and initial plans say it will be completed in the next six years. The Islamic community of Slovenia of 40,000 Muslims will pay $8.2 million for the building site close to the center of Ljubljana, B92 said."

Source: UPI

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Eastern Europe Is This Summer’s Hot Spot

According to the AAA, summer vacation bookings to Eastern Europe, including Slovenia, are skyrocketing:

"Based on travel taking place June through August this year, tour bookings to Europe, in general, are down slightly. However, travel to Eastern Europe is up by 55 percent. Travel to Croatia has increased 69 percent; Slovenia, 100 percent; Poland, 10 percent; Hungary, 76 percent; and Romania, 700 percent.

In comparison, Italy and Germany are down .7 percent and 43 percent respectively. Travel to the United Kingdom is down 1.9 percent and Ireland is down 10.4 percent. However, travel to France is up 40 percent this summer.

The data is based on AAA Travel agency bookings through May 1. Increased air services to Eastern Europe, positive media coverage and increased promotion have also boosted interest in Eastern European travel."

Source —AAA

Monday, May 28, 2007

Reporters Flock to Slovenia for Mass Test Drive

"Nearly 900 motoring journalists from around the world are expected to flock to Slovenia to test the second-generation of Renault's popular city car, Twingo, which is made by Slovenian carmaker Revoz.

Revoz has brought 80 cars to Ljubljana to be tested over the next month by visiting journalists, public broadcaster TV Slovenija has reported...

The event has been billed the "biggest of its kind in the history of Slovenian motoring and convention tourism" by organiser Liberty Slovenia, the Slovenian subsidiary of the international convention organiser.

Revoz unveiled the new Twingo in late April. The Slovenian plant is the only one in the world where the new model of the popular city car will be made."

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Slovenia, Croatia, the EU and Piran Bay

"As two former Yugoslav republics, Slovenia and Croatia, press on with a border dispute that has dragged on for over a decade, the international community is likely to step in to resolve the issue through arbitration.

In the latest developments, Slovenian lawmakers last week presented a map of the border between the two countries, asking Croatia to hand over a disputed bay and grant access to the open seas. If those demands are not met, some Slovenian politicians warn that they could hold a referendum against Croatia's entry into the EU.

At the center of the dispute is the Bay of Piran, a small body of water in the northern Adriatic Sea some 20 square kilometers in size that is not visible on most maps of Europe. Both countries claim ownership of the bay. Over the past few years, diplomacy over the issue has been characterized by tit-for-tat actions, usually targeting fishermen, on the part of both countries.

There is no clear border demarcation between the two former Yugoslav republics in this area, and neither have any historical base for which to claim ownership of the bay."

Read the full article at ISN Security Watch

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Minister for Europe to Visit Slovenia

Commenting on his visit to Ljubljana, Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon said:

'This visit is an excellent opportunity to look ahead to the Slovene Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2008. The UK and Slovenia both want to see an EU with a sustainable and competitive economy, with more jobs and higher growth. I am looking forward to discussing how we can achieve this with my Slovenian counterparts.

'We will also address issues of mutual concern including the need for a sustainable, multi-ethnic, stable final status settlement for Kosovo. Slovenia has a particlarly important role as a key player in promoting regional stability in the Western Balkans.' "

Source: Media Newswire

Monday, May 21, 2007

Adria Flying to UK and Ireland in Summer

"Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways has announced it is resuming regular flights from Ljubljana to Birmingham, Manchester and Dublin. The company plans to carry 16,000 passengers on the three lines over the summer.

Adria said it would operate two weekly flights from Ljubljana to Manchester (Wednesdays and Saturdays), a weekly flight to Birmingham (Wednesdays) and a weekly flight to Dublin (Saturdays), starting in May."

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Ljubljana Stock Exchange News

"Earnings reports for the first quarter spurred a buying frenzy on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange (LJSE) last week that pushed Slovenian blue chips to records highs. The SBI 20 benchmark index broke the 9,000-point-mark for the first time on Wednesday, 16 May and finished the week at 9,395.96, up 493.56 points (5.54%) over the previous week, while the SBI TOP index of the biggest blue chips ended the week 105.7 points (5.5%) higher at 2,027.13.

The action was bustling, as brokers concluded nearly EUR 92m in deals last week, including more than half in block deals. Pharma company Krka was the most active issue on the official market, notching up deals worth EUR 10.7m. The share gained 4.49% on the week to close at EUR 901.63, after reporting a 30% jump in its first-quarter profit.

Shares of telco Telekom Slovenije were also in high demand last week, putting on 11.81% to EUR 901.62. Matjaz Bernik, an analyst from the Ilirika brokerage, believes that investors are pinning their hopes on the upcoming privatisation of a minority stake in the telco."

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Slovenia Set to Get New Mobile Operator

Slovenia is set to get its third mobile operator, as Tusmobil, owned by retail magnate Mirko Tus, gears up to launch its services. The company signed on Tuesday, 15 May a deal with Slovenia's largest mobile operator, Mobitel, on national roaming until it builds its network.

Under the deal, Tusmobil users will be able to use Mobitel's network in areas that are not yet covered by Tusmobil's base stations.

'This deal is an important step forward in the launch of a third mobile operator in Slovenia,' Mobitel general manager Klavdij Godnic said in a press release circulated by Mobitel's parent, Telekom Slovenije, on Tuesday, 15 May.

Meanwhile, daily Dnevnik reports on Wednesday, 16 May that Tusmobil is set to launch commercial services in about two months' time. "

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

[Editor's note: sounds as if the saga of Vega & Western Wireless is about to repeat itself]

Finance Minister Pleased with World Bank Conference

"Finance Minister Andrej Bajuk was extremely pleased with the course of a World Bank conference on development economics that concluded at Bled on Friday, 18 May. "We are very pleased as the event unfurled in accordance with our expectations," Bajuk said.

He pointed to the presentations of theoretical know-how, experience and debates, mainly regarding the development of private partnerships. "This is a very important area for us. We are just beginning to take that path," he said in reference to the recently passed public-private partnership act.

Bajuk added that the resignation of World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz did not overshadow the conference, however "it did take some of the spotlight away".

Shigeo Katsu, regional vice-president for Europe and Central Asia at the World Bank, expressed hope that the event spurred new ideas, aided in the promotion of development economics and new solutions for uprooting poverty."

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Slovenia Invited to OECD Membership

"Slovenia has been invited to negotiations for membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD gathers the world’s 30 most advanced economies. The news has been confirmed both by the OECD head office and the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Other countries that have been invited to full membership at the OECD ministerial meeting in Paris include Chile, Israel, Estonia and Russia."

Source: Reuters

Slovenia And Bosnia Join Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly elected Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia into the Human Rights Council on Thursday, while the Belarus campaign was not a success, reports the Bosnia and Herzegovina Foreign Ministry.

As clarified in the report, Slovenia got the necessary majority of votes to become member of the Council in the first round of voting for two seats for the eastern European countries. The vote in the second round was between B-H and Belarus."


Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek claims Govt. trying to discredit him

'Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek has accused the government of trying to cast him in a poor light through doubtful public methods.

The conservative government of Janez Jansa was carrying out a 'systematic campaign to discredit' him, the head of state said on public television Friday night.

Drnovsek, who is ill with cancer, however, said he would not be intimidated by this. He was reacting to the findings of a special commission that the intelligence service SOVA had authorized the payment of a flight for an Indian healer to treat Drnovsek.

Drnovsek confirmed the had been treated by the healer, but denied involving the intelligence agency.'

Source: DPA

[Editor's note: Barnaby Phillips of Al Jazeera has just conducted an interesting interview with Slovenia's President Janez Drnovsek.]

World record set for simultaneous dancing

'Ljubljana - Thousands gathered on Friday in the Slovenian capital and more than 40 other cities to dance the quadrille in a bid to set a new world record in simultaneous dancing, organisers said.

Some 24,416 participants from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia blocked city centres at noon dressed in orange and black t-shirts and carrying white umbrellas. They danced the quadrille to music from Johan Strauss' Fledermaus.

The Quadrille Dance Parade, organised by Slovenian tourist and municipal authorities, was performed this year for the seventh time in a row. Organisers said it broke the record set in 2006 when 23,600 danced simultaneously in a total of 36 cities.'

-- AFP

Al Jazeera talks with Slovene President Janez Drnovsek

'Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips travels to Slovenia to meet one of Europe's more eccentric leaders - Janez Drnovsek. Once a staid and conventional politician, Drnovsek transformed his lifestyle after being diagnosed with cancer eight years ago.

Eschewing the delights of Ljubljana, Slovenia's baroque capital and the comforts that surround most statesmen, Drnovsek moved to a simple house in the mountains where he lives alone with his dog. Al Jazeera accompanied him to his home where - as the President explained - he spends much of his time preparing vegan food or in quiet contemplation.

His philosophical books, with titles such as Golden Thoughts and The Essence of the World are best sellers with the Slovenian public, among whom the President enjoys a high popularity rating.

His 'new-age' lifestyle however has angered some who think his rejection of conventional medicine is irresponsible.

He has also taken his quest for justice and peace to the world stage, proposing solutions for many of the world's most intractable problems – from the Darfur conflict to climate change.'

Source: Al Jazeera

Wolfowitz cancels international conference in Slovenia

According to the Slovenian news agency STA, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has canceled his appearance at an international development conference in Slovenia. The Slovenian news agency cited Senka Maver as the World Bank official who confirmed the cancellation.

Chinese, Slovenian, Croatian premiers hail anniversary of diplomatic ties

"Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao exchanged greetings with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader respectively on the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

Wen and Jansa sent each other a congratulatory message Saturday to hail the development of ties since China and Slovenia forged diplomatic relations 15 years ago.

The premiers spoke highly of the fruitful developments in relations between China and Slovenia and between China and Croatia, vowing to work together to further bilateral ties in the interests of their peoples."

Source: Xinhua

Saturday, May 19, 2007

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A compilation of news stories of interest concerning Slovenia and the wider region.