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Posts tagged ‘Slovioc Land of Slovenia’

Slovenia’s premier resigns over court ruling on referendum

March 14, 2018

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia’s prime minister said Wednesday he is resigning after the country’s top court annulled last year’s referendum on a key railway project and ordered a new vote. Miro Cerar said he sent his resignation to parliament and will formally notify the president Thursday. The move means that Slovenia’s parliamentary elections, which were due in early June, will be held a few weeks earlier.

“I have made a decision any trustworthy politician should make in such a situation,” Cerar said in a statement broadcast live. “You (citizens) will have a chance in the elections to judge between right and wrong and who deserves your support.”

Cerar also praised his center-left government’s achievements in curbing an economic downturn in the tiny European Union nation of 2 million people that is the home country of U.S. first lady Melania Trump.

“During my term the economic crisis ended. Slovenia has stable economic growth, third strongest in EU,” he said. “We have the lowest unemployment rate after 2009.” The government also has faced a wave of strikes and protests by public sector workers demanding higher wages amid economic recovery. Many schools in Slovenia were closed Wednesday as teachers went on strike for the second time in a month.

Slovenia’s Supreme Court ruled earlier Wednesday that government backing for the railway project during the referendum campaign was one-sided and could have affected the outcome of the vote. The referendum in September approved the government’s plan to build 27 kilometers (16 miles) of additional railway linking the Adriatic port of Koper with the Divaca hub near the border with Italy.

The vote was initiated by independent campaigner Vili Kovacic, who also took the issue to Slovenia’s top courts. Kovacic was supported by some opposition parties. Cerar said the rail project is of “strategic importance for the development of Slovenia.” He complained that “some are jeopardizing Slovenia’s development.”

The date for the new referendum wasn’t immediately set.

Associated Press Writer Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.

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Israel warns Slovenia against recognizing State of Palestine

February 1, 2018

Israel warned Slovenian against recognizing the State of Palestine as planned, Quds Press reported yesterday.

According to the Israeli TV Channel 10, the Israeli Ambassador to Slovenia Eyal Sila spoke to the Speaker of the Slovenian Parliament Milan Brglez and the chair of the Foreign Policy Committee Jozef Horvat in Ljubljana to warn them against the move.

According to the TV channel, Sila told the Slovenian authorities that recognizing Palestine would have “negative consequences” on Israeli-Slovenian relations.

Slovenia’s Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday postponed a vote on a draft resolution which would be a first step towards recognition of the State of Palestine.

Sweden is currently the only country in Europe which recognizes the State of Palestine.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180201-israel-warns-slovenia-against-recognising-state-of-palestine/.

Slovenia’s president wins second term in runoff election

November 12, 2017

BLED, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor was re-elected to a second term Sunday after winning a runoff election against a former comedian who currently serves as the mayor of a northern town.

Pahor, 54, a veteran politician known as the “King of Instagram” for his frequent use of social media, won 53 percent of the vote to challenger Marjan Sarec’s 47 percent, results from Slovenian election authorities showed after a completed preliminary count.

Pahor thanked voters and vowed to further boost their faith in democracy. He congratulated his opponent for his performance. “I will be a president of all,” Pahor said. “I’ll bring people together and build on what brings us closer.”

Pahor is only the second Slovenian president to win a second term in office since the country gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. The country of 2 million people in Central Europe is the birthplace of U.S. first lady Melania Trump and known for its Alpine mountains and lakes.

A former model like the U.S. first lady, the telegenic, blue-eyed politician has held a number of public posts and was Slovenia’s prime minister before he first was elected president in 2012. Sarec was a well-known satirical comedian before entering politics in 2010 to run for mayor in Kamnik. He conceded defeat and congratulated Pahor on Sunday night, but said his success as a relative political newcomer showed Slovenian citizens wanted change.

“I’m proud to have had a possibility to run against the premiere league,” Sarec said at his headquarters in Kamnik. “My result is good. It speaks for itself.” Analysts had warned that Sarec’s ability to make it into the runoff showed Slovenians’ discontent with established politicians. Critics accused Pahor of avoiding taking stands on important issues.

Election authorities said less than 42 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Sunday’s election. Slovenia’s official STA news agency says that’s the lowest turnout for a presidential race since Slovenia split from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

Key topics facing Slovenia include the economy, a border dispute with Croatia and the future of the European Union, which Slovenia joined in 2004. Slovenia’s presidency carries no executive powers, but the office-holder proposes a prime minister and his or her opinion on important issues holds weight. Pahor and Sarec, while both centrists, clashed on issues such as the privatization of Slovenia’s biggest bank and the composition of the country’s anti-corruption body.

After voting Sunday, Pahor complained that he has been falsely viewed as a populist — which he says he is not — while Sarec was trying to assume the role of a “statesman.” Pahor suggested that the “change of roles” cost him public support.

In his victory speech, Pahor, who has sought to portray himself as a unifier president, also said that he will strive to help solve problems and bridge any divisions that might exist in the Slovenian society.

Ali Zerdin contributed from Ljubljana, Slovenia and Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.

Slovenia’s tourism booms thanks in part to Melania Trump

January 31, 2017

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — The tiny European nation of Slovenia is undergoing a tourism boom partly because it is the native country of U.S. first lady Melania Trump. The national Statistics Bureau said Tuesday that the number of overnight stays in Slovenia by American tourists has jumped by 10 percent in 2016 when compared to 2015.

Nearly 4 million foreign tourists visited the country of 2 million in 2016, up by about 10 percent. Slovenian tourist agencies have been organizing special tours “on the footsteps of Melania Trump” showing the places where she lived, studied and worked before she left in her 20s to pursue a modeling career.

A website promoting the Alpine nation of stunning natural beauty says: “Welcome to the homeland of the new First Lady of the United States of America!”

Melania Trump’s hometown in Slovenia marks inauguration

January 20, 2017

SEVNICA, Slovenia (AP) — The inauguration of Donald Trump is a big thing for a small town in Slovenia where the new U.S. first lady traces her roots. Residents of Sevnica watched live coverage from Washington at the town’s cafes or at their homes, dazzled by Melania Trump’s appearance in a sky blue cashmere jacket and mock turtleneck combination by Ralph Lauren.

Starting Friday, the town of 5,000 people launched three days of events to mark the inauguration and welcome all guests wishing to see where Melania Trump grew up. Mayor Srecko Ocvirk says Sevnica has organized free guided tours, a display of locally produced goods in the 12th century castle above the old town and a festival of grape vine pruning. The products include locally-made sausages and wine and a line of women’s slippers from Sevnica’s Kopitarna shoe factory.

“We want to mark it with nice, appropriate products,” Ocvirk told The Associated Press. On a website promoting Slovenia — an Alpine nation of stunning natural beauty that has 2 million people — the headline reads: “Welcome to the homeland of the new First Lady of the United States of America!”

Melania Trump has hired a law firm in Slovenia to protect her name and image from being used on numerous products that recently have sprung up there. Born Melanija Knavs in nearby Novo Mesto in 1970, the new U.S. first lady grew up in Sevnica while Slovenia was part of the Communist-ruled former Yugoslavia.

She left in her 20s to pursue a modeling career. The last time she is believed to have visited Slovenia was in July 2002, when she introduced Donald Trump to her parents at the lakeside Grand Hotel Toplice in the resort town of Bled.

Sevnica residents have invited the U.S. presidential couple to visit.

Putin hails Slovenia’s offer to host his meeting with Trump

February 10, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin thanked Slovenia on Friday for offering to host his first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, but added that the prospect hinges on Washington. The Russian leader hailed Slovenia, where Trump’s wife Melania was born and grew up, as an “excellent” venue for possible talks with Trump.

“It depends not only on us, but we are naturally ready for it,” he said. Speaking after holding talks at the Kremlin with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor, Putin said Russia welcomes Trump’s statements about his intentions to restore the strained Russia-U.S. ties.

“We always welcomed that and we hope that relations will be restored in full in all areas,” Putin said. “It relates to trade and economic ties, security issues and various regions of the world, which are suffering from numerous conflicts. By pooling our efforts, we naturally would be able to significantly contribute to solving those issues, including the fight against international terrorism.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he’s looking forward to an opportunity to talk to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Germany, where they both will attend a security conference and a meeting of the G-20 foreign ministers next week. Lavrov told NTV television that Putin and Trump agreed about the need to meet soon during their phone call on Jan. 28 and told diplomats to negotiate the time and venue.

In recent years, Russia-U.S. relations have plunged to post-Cold war lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and the allegations of Russia hacking of the Democrats in the U.S. presidential election.

In 2001, Slovenia hosted Putin’s first meeting with former U.S. President George W. Bush that led to a short-lived thaw in relations between Moscow and Washington. A similarly short warm spell early during Barack Obama’s presidency gave way to new tensions.

As part of Obama’s early effort to “reset” ties with Moscow, the two nations in 2010 signed a pivotal arms control pact that set new lower caps on the number of warheads each country can deploy. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the prospects of extending the New START Treaty that is set to expire in 2021 will “depend on the position of our American partners” and require negotiations.

He wouldn’t say whether the Kremlin favors extending the pact that limited Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads each. Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Peskov pointed to a “certain break in dialogue on strategic security issues” during the Obama administration, and said Moscow and Washington now need “an update of information and positions.”

Peskov on Friday denied a report by the Washington Post claiming that Michael Flynn, the retired general who is now Trump’s national security adviser, had discussed a possible review of anti-Russian sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington in December. Peskov said Ambassador Sergei Kislyak did talk to Flynn, but the rest of the report was wrong.

While suggesting possible cooperation with Moscow to fight the Islamic State group in Syria, as a candidate Trump was critical of the New START and talked about a need to strengthen U.S. nuclear arsenals.

In December, Trump declared on Twitter that the U.S. should “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” until the rest of the world “comes to its senses” regarding nuclear weapons. Putin also has said strengthening Russia’s nuclear capabilities should be among the nation’s priorities.

The platform of Trump’s Republican Party had promised to “abandon arms control treaties that benefit our adversaries without improving our national security” and called for the development of “a multi-layered missile defense system.”

Kislyak told Russian media in Washington that he sees little chance for a compromise on missile defense, as Moscow believes the U.S. wants to develop the shield against Russia despite assurances that it’s directed against other threats.

“I don’t exclude that at a certain stage we may have a mutual interest to talk about those issues, but as of now I’m not seeing any basis for reaching agreement,” he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

He voiced hope, however, that joint efforts to fight the IS could help break the ice in Russia-U.S. ties. “If we have serious cooperation, it could help to start rebuilding trust,” Kislyak said in televised remarks.

Lavrov said Friday that Putin and Trump had a “good, detailed talk” about nuclear non-proliferation, including issues related to Iran and North Korea during their phone call.

Slovenia awaits birth of new generation of ‘baby dragons’

March 08, 2016

POSTOJNA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia is counting down the days until the birth of a new generation of “baby dragons.” Scientists in the Central European country have proudly announced that a female olm — a Gollum-like, lizard-sized amphibian living in an aquarium in the country’s biggest cave — has laid eggs. They have described it as the first example of observed out-of-lab breeding of the species.

The eyeless pink animal, known as the “baby dragon” and “human fish” for its skin-like color, can live a century and breeds only once a decade — usually in laboratories throughout Europe or deep in caves away from people.

Slovenian scientists have been ecstatic about the prospects of having baby olms born in Postojna Cave. The eggs are expected to hatch in about 100 days, or sometime in June. “This is something truly extraordinary,” said biologist Saso Weldt, who works at the cave in northwestern Slovenia. “Nobody has ever witnessed (their) reproduction in nature. We even haven’t seen an animal younger than two years.”

The olm was already in a big aquarium in the cave when the eggs were discovered by chance on Jan. 30 by a tour guide who noticed a little white dot attached to the fish tank’s wall. A pregnant olm stood guard next to it, snapping at an intruder who tried to come close.

Scientists removed other inhabitants from the aquarium, leaving the mother alone with the eggs. In the weeks that followed, the olm laid a total of 57 eggs, three of which seem to be developing. Biologists say this is a good number, as olm eggs have a poor record in actually lasting the 120 days that are needed for them to mature and hatch.

“Olms are not really successful when it comes to reproduction,” Weldt explained. Two years ago, a Postojna olm also laid eggs, but they fell prey to other cave inhabitants. So, this time biologists have isolated the female and her eggs in a dark spot, added extra oxygen and removed any outside influences.

A record number of visitors in February have been allowed nowhere near the mother and her eggs — tourists could only view a live video screening via special infrared cameras that were installed near the aquarium.

Slovenians, some of whom are contemplating declaring the olm the next “Slovenian of the Year,” have been keeping their fingers crossed. “We did all that is in our power,” biologist Weldt said. “Now we wait.”

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