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Public forum on the development of the Pomurje region

On completion of today's visit to the Pomurje region, the government members attended a public forum and answered questions posed by mayors, businessmen and other development actors in the region.

At the start of the visit, the Mayor of the Municipality of Lendava, Janez Magyar, commended the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for the excellent work and efforts in negotiating the largest financial resource package in the history of Slovenia at European Union level. “Thanks to the government for acting without delay to ensure that local communities finally receive more financial resources. The funds have been granted to all municipalities, regardless of the political affiliation of the individual," added the Mayor of Lendava. According to him, the funds are one of the best government investments, as all citizens are to gain in this respect. The Major also commended the government for its determination and unity in the successful commencement of the historical project of our young and small country - the leadership of the Council of the European Union - which he believes will also be completed successfully at the end of the year. "Last but not least, I would like to commend all ministers, state secretaries and our honourable Prime Minister, Janez Janša, for providing protective equipment and the timely supply of much-needed vaccines to every citizen during these difficult times of the global pandemic. In these difficult times, you have managed to keep the economic sector in excellent condition with timely and correct measures. Moreover, jobs have been preserved, which is and will be of the utmost importance for the future" added Mayor Magyar.

The Director of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, Tomaž Smrekar, presented the statistical data of the Pomurje region. The presentation was followed by a speech from the Minister of Health, Janez Poklukar, on the current epidemiological situation in the region and Slovenia, and in Europe. The Minister said that the number of daily confirmed cases is increasing throughout Europe and not only in Slovenia. "Currently, 285 beds out of 288 are occupied in intensive care," said the Minister of Health. As a rule, the number of confirmed cases in the municipalities of Pomurje has strongly increased; however, stagnation in this respect is being observed, which instils optimism". We all support the healthcare system and consistently implement preventive measures," highlighted Minister Poklukar, and emphasised the need to work from home. "The virus doesn't get to choose, and the best way to protect ourselves is by vaccination," reiterated the Minister.

The Prime Minister congratulated the mayors and residents of the Pomurje municipalities with the highest vaccination rate. “Vaccination is the only tool to help stop the worst of the epidemic. We have enough vaccines and we will do everything in our power to convince people to use this tool against Covid-19," stressed Prime Minister Janša. According to the Prime Minister, the region has made visible progress since the last visit. Therefore, he thanked everyone who has put in effort in this respect.

The Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Andrej Vizjak, welcomed the opportunity and future of exploiting geothermal water that has to be handled properly. “This means that we must use the energy we get from underground and return the water back, not throw it away. In doing so, we take care of the level in the aquifers, and ensure the long-term possibility of geothermal water exploitation. In this respect, we must ensure that the water pumped from geothermal aquifers is fully thermally utilised and returned back," said the Minister.

According to Minister Poklukar, the problem of dentistry is observed in the Pomurska region, as well as in eastern Slovenia in general; therefore, the Ministry supported the efforts of the Medical Faculty in Maribor to launch a dentistry programme at the beginning of the year.

The Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Simona Kustec, explained that last year, almost 200 secondary school programmes were opened throughout the country, including the Pomurska region. Moreover, the Minister visited the bilingual Lendava Primary School and was given an insight into in the successful performance of the new programmes, attended by a sufficient number of pupils, and into the future requirements. The Minister ensured that the relevant support will also be provided in the future. Higher education in the region represents a major challenge, as there is no independent higher education institution. “The system of introduction of apprenticeship in the region can serve as a model for the whole country. This is the sole example, with the exception of Škofja Loka, where the apprenticeship system actually works," said the Minister.

With regard to geothermal energy, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Jože Podgoršek, explained that the current government is the first to put out a call for the co-financing of reinjection wells, which is currently open until 20 December 2021.

In connection with the eastern bypass, an essential requirement for the development of economic activities, the Minister of Infrastructure, Jernej Vrtovec, said that today, after several years of harmonisation, a co-financing agreement was signed for the reservoir, which is urgently needed for the construction of the bypass.

The Defence Minister, Matej Tonin, highlighted that with its 238 Professional Fire Brigades (PGD), Pomurje is the strongest region with regard to firefighting. "I would like to thank you for the frequent assistance in other parts of the country in the event of natural disasters," said the Minister.

In conclusion, the Prime Minister, Janez Janša, emphasised the demographic-related issues of the region which are to be addressed. The government has therefore established an Office for Demography, which is to be located in Maribor. According to the Prime Minister, it involves a complex issue which requires the participation and support of all parties.