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Slovenian report Slovenian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-12-11 09:31:55
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Court tries father in custody battle-turned-missing girl case

A Slovene man is accused of spiriting away his 4-year-old daughter in a custody battle-turned-missing girl case that has captivated this small European country. The girl, Klara Kaker, has not been seen since March. Her father, Bostjan Kaker, is now on trial on charges of abducting her, but he won’t divulge her whereabouts, saying only that she is “somewhere safe.” Police have released Klara’s photo to the media to help the search, a rare move defying the country’s laws that strictly protect the identity of minors. But, the picture of a wide-eyed little girl in a blue sweater, with short bangs and shoulder-length brown hair, has so far produced no results.

Kaker alleges his daughter was abused by her maternal grandfather. He has been fighting last year’s decision by the court in the northern town of Slovenj Gradec to give custody of the girl to her mother. The courts have rejected claims of abuse, but Kaker insists the authorities were ignoring evidence and favouring mothers in custody battles. Klara’s parents separated in 2008, and the girl mostly stayed with her father while the custody case was deliberated upon in court. After he lost, Kaker evaded attempts by police to take the girl away. He was arrested in June, but has refused to say where she is. Slovenes have closely watched the drama as it has unfolded over the past year.

Kaker initially launched a media campaign to argue his side in the custody dispute — setting up a support group, appearing on local television and even printing T-shirts that urged public backing. A children’s rights group called ‘Action’ also campaigned aggressively for Kaker in the dispute. That has won him some public sympathy and triggered a debate about the custody issues. A parliamentary committee discussed the case in October, and a conservative party demanded that the custody ruling be reviewed. But public support has shifted since the girl went missing and local media have speculated that the girl is no longer in Slovenia.


Mayor faces tough coalition talks

Slovenia tasked the mayor of its capital city on Monday with establishing a government to stop the euro zone member's slide back into recession, and he faces potentially weeks of tough coalition talks. The European crisis claimed its latest scalp on Sunday with the Social Democrats of prime Minister Borut Pahor relegated into third place by voters angry over rising unemployment in the former Yugoslav republic. Zoran Jankovic, the centre-left mayor of Ljubljana and former manager of Slovenia's largest food retailer Mercator, took 28 seats in the 90-seat parliament, and will need partners in government.

Even if he gets them, there were concerns on Monday that the coalition might prove too unwieldy to carry out the painful reforms analysts say are necessary, including a divisive pension reform. "There is a big question mark over how strong Jankovic's government will be ... whether it will be able to push through parliament the legislation necessary to stop the growth of public finance spending," Slovenian daily Finance said in an editorial.

A test of confidence will come on Tuesday when the Finance Ministry will attempt to sell up to 1 billion Euros of 18-month treasury bills to roll over debt at the start of 2012. Five-year Slovenian credit default swaps fell 5.01 percent to 374 basis points by 0844 on Monday, according to Markit data, but were still 104 percent higher than three months ago. Bojan Ivanc of KD Banka attributed the fall to signs of French-German progress on the euro zone crisis, "rather than a reaction to the Slovenian election." The blue-chip SBI index eased slightly in Monday morning trade, down 0.19 percent to 609.2 points by 0844 GMT.


Tourism is seeing positive results

Slovenia's tourism is seeing positive results, but to develop its potential further a partnership for sustainable development of the industry will be signed at the annual Slovenian Tourism Forum in Portoroz. Tourism generates 12.3% of Slovenia's GDP, and provides 12% of the country's jobs, including indirectly, head of the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) Maja Pak said at the outset of the two-day meeting on Thursday.

Noting that visitor numbers were up 7% and the inflow from tourism rose by 8% in the first ten months of the year, she said that "the results in Slovenian tourism are good, but it is necessary to make sure they stay so and get even better in the future".

She believes the untapped potential lies in creating even more attractive, sustainability-based products with higher value added, even more intense and coordinated promotion, better accessibility of Slovenia, better conditions for investment and work in tourism and more efficient departmental coordination.

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