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Slovenian report
by Euro Reporter
2013-09-05 10:30:04
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First dog bakery opens in Slovenia

Who would have thought the answer to unemployment in the city worst hit by Slovenia's economic crisis could be meat, mint and peanut butter-flavoured snacks for pooches. But that's just what happened for Nastja Verdnik, a 26-year-old journalism graduate who has opened the Balkan country's first bakery for dogs. "I used to make biscuits for my dog, but never dreamt of making a career out of it," Verdnik told AFP in her tiny shop in the northern city of Maribor, where she sells home-made biscuits, muffins and cakes, including for dogs with allergies.

After graduating from Ljubljana University last year, her hunt for a job in journalism led nowhere. She had already made biscuits for friends' dogs and even sold small quantities to a local pet shop. "I saw at the employment office a programme for promoting entrepreneurship among young people," she said, so put forth the idea for a dog bakery and got immediately backing.

"Hov Hov" - Slovenian for "woof woof" - was born. "There are more dogs registered in Slovenia than children under nine. And owners, before getting a dog, know they will have the financial resources to keep it," said Verdnik. Her confidence was boosted by research showing during a dog's lifetime, owners can spend the equivalent of the price of a car on their pet.


Slovenian recession eases, but more pain seen ahead

Slovenia's economy declined at a slower pace in the second quarter, data showed on Friday, but analysts said a steeper fall was looming as the country struggles to overhaul its banks and avoid an international bailout. GDP shrank by 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter, versus a fall of 0.5 percent in the first three months of the year as a decline in household consumption eased before the government raised value-added-tax in July. The statistics office also reported on Friday that annual inflation fell to 2.2 percent in August from 2.8 percent in July while unemployment eased to 10.3 percent in the second quarter from 11.1 percent in the first three months of the year.

Saso Stanovnik, chief economist at investment firm Alta Invest, said the GDP figures were in line with expectations, but warned: "We can expect a steeper fall of consumption, and also of GDP, in the third quarter precisely because of the VAT increase". Slovenia raised VAT by 2 percentage points to 22 percent from July 1 to try to boost budget revenues. But its primary concern is the rising amount of bad loans in its fragile mostly state-owned banking sector, which might force the country to follow other euro zone states in seeking outside aid.

In a positive sign for the export-reliant economy, exports grew by 2.0 percent year-on-year in the three months to June, their best performance since the fourth quarter of 2011. Analysts said unemployment was unlikely to ease significantly before 2015 when economic recovery is expected, while inflation, which is well above the euro zone average of 1.3 percent, will continue to ease slowly this year and in 2014 amid low economic activity.


Slovenia's "erased" citizens set to file new complaints

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will receive new complaints filed against Slovenia, in the case of the so-called "erased" citizens. The country is facing further legal action against it for allegedly failing to prepare a program of compensation. The European Court has previously asked Slovenia to, within a legal deadline; prepare a compensation program for the persons which this EU member had erased from the list of its citizens after becoming independent in the early 1990s.

The Italian law firm Lana, which represents the plaintiffs, acted on behalf of 645 people and already in June and July filed a number of complaints against Slovenia to the highest European judicial authority. On February 22, 1992 Slovenia erased from the register of permanent residents 25,671 persons, which, as judged by the European Court, violated their human rights. Of this number, about one half in the meantime managed to regulate their status. Representative of the Slovenian Ministry of Internal Affairs Mirjana Gotal said that the country's government in July adopted a draft law on compensations and sent it to parliament, which is expected to consider it at the next sitting in September.

She told the Ljubljana daily Delo that the European Parliament committee in charge of supervising the judgment of the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will review the case Kurić, et al. v. Slovenia. According to the proposed bill, the "erased" were offered compensation of EUR 30 for each month that they spent having unsolved citizenship status. After talks with Interior Minister Gregor Virant this figure was increased to EUR 40, but the plaintiffs did not accept it, and instead wish the number to be equal to the monthly social benefits given in Slovenia at the time.


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