09 Jan 2020, 21:22 PM

STA, 9 January 2020 - The Association of WWII Veterans is appalled by the Supreme Court's annulment of the death sentence of Slovenian general Leon Rupnik (1880-1946), saying that numerous documents undoubtedly prove that he actively collaborated with the Fascist Italian and Nazi German occupation forces. Protest has also been expressed by the Social Democrats (SD).

The association promoting the values of the resistance movement in WWI said on Thursday it had received with indignation the report by the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer about the verdict against Rupnik being sent for retrial at the Ljubljana District Court.

Rupnik collaborated with the occupation forces during WWII as he served as the head of government of the Nazi-occupied Province of Ljubljana in 1943-1945, and was also chief inspector of the Domobranci collaborationist militia.

In May 1945, he fled to Austria, where he was arrested by the British and returned to Yugoslavia in early 1946. He was court-martialled and executed for treason and collaboration with the occupiers later that year.

One of his descendants, allegedly a grandson, had filed an appeal on a point of law, arguing that the verdict had not been sufficiently explained, that the reasons conflict each other, that his right to defence was violated, and that judges who had reached the verdict should have been excluded.

The appeal has now been granted by the Supreme Court, the verdict annulled and the case returned to the Ljubljana District Court for retrial.

The Association of WWII Veterans said in its response that Rupnik was also the mayor of Ljubljana under Nazi Germany and that he "led the treasonous fight against his own nation and subjected himself to the ideas of Nazism."

According to its president Marijan Križman, treason cannot be erased even with "bureaucratic pardon of the crimes that the traitors had committed against their own nation."

Court has thus become a tool for those who are not able to get over the shame and pain of treachery and use the judicial system for retaliation and spreading of hatred."

The Social Democrats (SD) said it would never accept "those who preferred collaboration with the occupier to the survival of the nation get acquitted," adding that Rupnik was "loyal to the alliance with the occupier to the last moment."

The party said that "untruthful interpretation of Slovenian history with rehabilitation of collaboration and Fascism" did not lead to reconciliation, but only takes Slovenians further away from dealing with the past.

The Jewish Cultural Centre Ljubljana also responded to the Supreme Court's decision with "indignation and concern", saying that it was the "first step in the politically-motivated aspiration to rehabilitate the criminal collaborationist regime during WWII".

It noted that Rupnik's police, under the leadership of the co-defendant Lovro Hacin, had organised in 1943 and 1944 arrests and deportations of Slovenian Jews from the Province of Ljubljana, with only a handful of them surviving the ordeal.

09 Jan 2020, 11:33 AM

STA, 8 January - The Supreme Court has annulled the death sentence of Slovenian general Leon Rupnik (1880-1946), who collaborated with the occupying forces during World War II, on an appeal from his relative, and sent the case to the Ljubljana District Court for retrial, the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer reported on Wednesday.

Rupnik was a general in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in WWI and later collaborated with the Fascist Italian and Nazi German occupation forces during World War II.

Wikimedia CC-by-0 1945 Leon_Rupnik.jpg

Wikipedia, CC-by-0

He served as the president of the Provincial Government of the Nazi-occupied Province of Ljubljana in 1943-1945, and was also chief inspector of the Domobranci (Slovene Home Guard), a collaborationist militia.

In May 1945, Rupnik fled to Austria, where he was arrested by the British and returned to Yugoslavia in early 1946. He was court-martialled along with several other people and sentenced to death for treason and collaboration with the occupiers later that year.

Rupnik on stage with fellow Nazis in Ljubljana

The verdict was confirmed by the Supreme Court of the Yugoslav Army, and the appeal for clemency was rejected on 2 September 1946.

Rupnik was executed by firing squad in Ljubljana on the same day and buried in Žale Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

One of his descendants, allegedly a grandson, had filed an appeal on a point of law through an attorney, and the appeal has now been granted by the Supreme Court.

The part of the verdict relating to Rupnik has been annulled and the case has been returned to the Ljubljana District Court for retrial.

According to the newspapers, the court says that the verdict was not in compliance with the legal principles at the time, and that not all accusations of the acts he had been sentenced for had been supported with facts and circumstances.

For one of the acts the court has found that it does not bear signs of a criminal act.

Rupnik's relative claimed, among other things, that the verdict had not been sufficiently explained, that the reasons conflict each other, that he was violated his right to defence, and that judges who had reached the verdict should have been excluded.

08 Jan 2020, 12:08 PM

STA, 8 January 2020 - The attack by Iran on the military airbase in Erbil, Iraq, was one of the worst incidents involving Slovenian troops deployed abroad. They often face dangerous conditions but have luckily managed to avoid major injury. Below is a timeline of major security incidents involving Slovenian troops.

July 2005 - A hummer carrying four Slovenians participating in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan hit on an explosive device. While the vehicle was heavily damaged, the troops did not sustain serious injury, only some minor hearing problems experienced by one of them.

November 2009 - A Slovenian soldier committed suicide while serving in the KFOR mission in Kosovo. She is the only Slovenian soldier to die during deployment.

30 May 2011 - A civilian member of the Slovenian contingent in Afghanistan suffered a minor injury in a bomb attack that demolished a large part of Herat headquarters of the provincial reconstruction team. She sustained a superficial injury and was spared worse because she was inside an office, behind closed doors, when the bomb went off.

November 2013 - Six Slovenians deployed to Afghanistan came under fire by the Taliban while out on patrol with an Afghan unit they had been training. None of the Slovenians were injured.

22 January 2014 - A Slovenian soldier was shot in the leg in hostile fire while training an Afghan unit.

21 November 2014 - A soldier serving in Kosovo suffered a head injury caused by a smoke flare during crowd control training. He was taken to Slovenia for treatment.

April 2015 - Slovenian soldiers participating in the peacekeeping UNIFIL mission in Lebanon were ambushed by an unknown Arab militia, allegedly armed. The militants stole a computer allegedly carrying sensitive military data from their armoured vehicle.

February 2017 - Slovenian UNIFIL troops were ambushed, their convoy of light armoured personnel vehicles stopped in a roadblock and damaged by blunt objects.

4 August 2018 - A Slovenian UNIFIL patrol was attacked twice in the same day. First they were surrounded by an armed group that damaged their vehicle. They got away only to be attacked by a larger armed group that doused the vehicle in petrol and set it on fire. The troops fired two warning shots and returned to base unharmed.

8 January 2020 - Erbil airbase, were six Slovenians were deployed as part of the Inherent Resolve mission to Iraq, came under attack by Iran. Nobody was injured as the troops escaped to the bunkers following a detonation near the base. Slovenia decided to evacuate the six troops from Iraq.

08 Jan 2020, 10:52 AM

8 January, 2020 - Slovenia’s declaration of independence on 25 June 1991 came just a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November, and the ensuing collapse of the post-World War 2 order in Europe. While there were many differences between East and West, and many reasons for the break-up of Yugoslavia and end of the Soviet Union, economics undoubtedly played a key role, and living standards a much-watched indicator of the success, or failure, of the transition to a market economy. Although, once again, note that Slovenia (as part of Yugoslavia) was not a member of the USSR, and operated a different, more open and non-aligned form of socialism than that seen behind the Iron Curtain.

Still, how have the various economies of post-communist Eastern and Central Europe fared in the three decades since opening to the world? One way to look at this is with the following video, which shows the GDP per capita from 1992 to 2017 for the top 10 nations included in the data. The GDP is presented in US dollars and Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms, a measure that considers the crude income compared to the prices of goods in the different countries. As such, it’s seen as a good measure of relative affluence, and for comparing the economic productivity and standards of living between different nations

It’s best and most fun to just watch the video, and see how nations rise and fall over time, but in summary: Slovenia starts at #2, slightly behind the Czech Republic (aka Czechia) in 1992. These two then stay at the top, very close together, until 1998, when Slovenia takes pole position. After this, Slovenia pulls ahead, soon maintaining a lead of some US$2,000 until 2007, when Czechia closes the gap, then takes over the top spot in 2009. Slovenian then regains #1 for 2010 and 2011, but after that Czechia is in the lead.

Another way to look at this data is to zoom out and put Slovenia among the all the other EU Member States, with the country having joined the organisation in 2004. It’s on watching this you may have some questions about Luxembourg, with a population just under a third that of Slovenia.

Note that the first the video was produced by Lionwork Statistics, and was released with the following notes:

  1. There was no data available for Slovenia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia until 1995. In these cases, the average growth rate of the nearest region was used to calculate the estimated value. In the case of Estonia, data are shown from 1993, since no similar region is present due to geographical placement.
  2. The comparison includes Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Some never made it to the Top 10 during the time period.
08 Jan 2020, 09:36 AM

The is a developing situation, and updates will be posted as they arrive.

Updated at 12:10, 09/01/2019

STA, 8 January 2020 - The six Slovenian soldiers stationed in Erbil in northern Iraq in the German-led international operation Inherent Resolve will be evacuated after Iran attacked Erbil airport in retaliation for the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the Defence Ministry announced on Wednesday.

The evacuation will be conducted in cooperation with the German partners, the ministry said.

The supreme commander of the armed forces, President Borut Pahor, and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec have been informed of the decision.

Pahor, Defence Minister Karl Erjavec and Major General Alenka Ermenc, the chief of the general staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, talked to the Slovenian troops in Erbil via video call early this morning.

They said they were all well and they had been in the base's shelter during the attack on the airport in the proximity of the Stefan base, the ministry said.

The prime minister's office said in a press release that Šarec had given an order "for all necessary measures to be taken to protect our forces, including moving, evacuating them from the area".

The office added the evacuation would be conducted simultaneously with the evacuation of soldiers from other partner countries that are participating in the operation in northern Iraq.

Foreign Minister Miro Cerar welcomed the decision to evacuate the soldiers on Twitter and again called for easing of tensions. "It is important that the soldiers are not injured and are feeling fine," he wrote.

The minister also announced he would attend on Friday an extraordinary meeting of EU's foreign ministers where they would determine further action.

Iran fired multiple missiles at two US military targets in Iraq on Tuesday night, the al-Asad airbase north of Baghdad and Erbil in the north of the country, where Slovenian soldiers were stationed.

07 Jan 2020, 14:08 PM

STA, 7 January 2020 - Slovenian soldiers deployed in the German-led international operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq will stay in the Erbil base, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday after Germany and several other countries decided to temporarily pull out their troops from Baghdad following the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

All of Slovenian soldiers are currently in Erbil in northern Iraq, the ministry noted, adding it was constantly monitoring the situation and would make decisions based on further developments.

"The Slovenian Armed Forces troops in Iraq are safe," Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said. "We estimate that the situation in this part of Iraq is fairly stable, we are keeping an eye on the situation."

Due to increased risk, several measures have been adopted at Erbil base. Soldiers are required to wear flak jackets and helmets, and they are not allowed outside base. Their primary assignment - the training of Iraqi troops - has been put on hold as well, he said.

Slovenia can pull out its troops "within hours" if necessary, with several scenarios prepared in the event a political decision is reached to withdraw the soldiers. Slovenia has an agreement on logistic support with the German Defence Ministry, another possibility would be using the government jet, he said.

Erjavec was also quick to point out that Slovenian soldiers were not a part of the NATO operation but the global coalition against Islamic State, which is supported by several United Nations resolutions.

"It would be very bad if each country decided individually what to do. After all, we embarked on this mission together and should leave it together if such a decision is made." Based on the current security situation in north Iraq, pulling out troops now would be premature, he said.

After the US air strike in which Soleimani was killed on Friday, the situation in the country deteriorated.

Germany announced today it would transfer its 30 soldiers stationed in Baghdad and Taji to Jordan and Kuwait after the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution calling on the government to expel foreign troops from the country.

Croatia also said that 14 of its troops had been transferred to Kuwait and seven returned home after their concluded their mission.

In line with an agreement with NATO, Italian forces also pulled out last night, Italian newspaper La Stampa reports today. Italy had some 50 Carabinieri stationed at the US army base in Baghdad.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would not comment on the possibility of expulsion of foreign troops from the country on Monday. He said NATO's mission benefited both the allies and Iraq, and that NATO had been invited to the country by Iraqi authorities.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor said on Monday he was being briefed on the state of the six-strong Slovenian contingent in Iraq and that the situation was being monitored. "In the event the decision is taken that their status in Iraq has to change, the Slovenian state will immediately respond," he said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would not comment on the possibility of expulsion of foreign troops from the country on Monday. He said NATO's mission benefited both the allies and Iraq, and that NATO had been invited to the country by Iraqi authorities.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor said on Monday he was being briefed on the state of the six-strong Slovenian contingent in Iraq and that the situation was being monitored. "In the event the decision is taken that their status in Iraq has to change, the Slovenian state will immediately respond," he said.

07 Jan 2020, 09:13 AM

STA, 6 January 2020 - The coalition Social Democrats (SD) want Slovenia and the EU to help Australia fight bushfires, by offering civil protection resources and other forms of assistance to save lives.

The party formally asked the government on Monday to offer assistance to Australia given that Slovenia has one of the best civil protection systems in the world and a broad network of voluntary firefighters.

Slovenia should also offer secondary assistance by supporting NGOs that want to help Australia with activities such as reforestation and protection of animal and plant species.

Meanwhile, the party's MEPs Tanja Fajon and Milan Brglez urged the European Commission to draw up a plan of joint EU activities and form a European unit pooling together free civil protection and firefighting resources from across the bloc.

However, the office of Slovenia's European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič told the STA it had not received the initiative yet.

It noted though that the EU and its members had mechanisms to help, but that the Australian authorities must first request aid.

Australia last asked for EU assistance last November, when the EU's Copernicus Earth observation programme provided it with satellite images of New South Wales.

According to unofficial information, Australia has requested satellite images from Copernicus five times so far but has never requested aid from the EU's mechanisms for civil protection.

Sources in Brussels say that highly developed countries outside the EU usually do not request this type of aid, which is why some find the SD initiative somewhat unusual.

A total of 24 people have died in the Australian bushfires since the end of September, and more than 1,800 homes have been damaged or completely destroyed. It is estimated that more than a third of animals from the affected areas have died, and the koala bear population is in jeopardy as most of its habitat has been destroyed.

06 Jan 2020, 16:52 PM

STA, 6 January 2020 - President Borut Pahor has congratulated Croatia's newly elected President Zoran Milanović over the phone. "I am happy that he reiterated in our conversation that he wanted to improve relations with Slovenia and that this will be one of his priorities," Pahor told the press on Monday.

"I replied that, in this sense, Slovenia has a friend, somebody completely devoted to dialogue, to finding solutions. But added that he must be aware of my position about the arbitration agreement and that these must be taken into account."

He expressed hope that the dialogue will lead to the implementation of the border arbitration decision through agreement of both countries and to benefit of them both.

Pahor said he would attend Milanović's inauguration in early February, to convey the message that Slovenia and Croatia are neighbouring countries and must also be friendly countries.

He believes that his presence at the inauguration will also be that relations between the two countries were mostly good, bar one, very complicated chapter.

However, a tribunal has decided on the issue and the decision will have to be upheld sooner or later, added Pahor.

Milanović was Croatia's prime minister at the time when Croatia withdrew from the border arbitration procedure, declaring it null and void after a wire tap showed inadmissible communication had taken place between Slovenia's arbitration agent and the tribunal member nominated by Slovenia.

The agent and the tribunal member resigned immediately and the tribunal decided that the breach was not such as to warrant a discontinuation of the arbitration process.

Nonetheless, Croatia withdrew and has been refusing to implement the border arbitration decision ever since it was presented in mid-2017.

Pahor, who signed in his capacity as prime minister in 2009 the arbitration agreement with Croatia that led to the arbitration procedure, said today that he would approach his relationship with President Milanović "with open arms and open doors".

Social Democrats (SD) president Dejan Židan also congratulated Milanović, who is a member of the Croatian Social Democrats (SDP).

Židan expressed confidence that the countries will be able to renew friendly relations "based on the rule of law, mutual respect and dedication to common European values".

06 Jan 2020, 12:44 PM

STA, 6 January 2020 - President Borut Pahor has called for a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East as he made an appeal for a peaceful resolution of disputes following the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by the US.

"I'm in favour of a de-escalation of tensions on all sides," Pahor said on Monday, adding that he has always been "an advocate of a peaceful resolution of disputes".

Pahor also acknowledged that the order by US President Donald Trump to kill Soleimani had "caused tensions across the Middle East and in the entire international community".

As the supreme commander of the armed forces the president is briefed on the state of the six-strong Slovenian contingent currently in Iraq helping to train the local security forces.

"They are safe, together with their German colleagues. They are assessing the situation. In the event the decision is taken that their status in Iraq has to change, the Slovenian state will immediately respond."

Overall, Slovenia plans to keep a close eye on the developments in Iraq, where the situation is "complex," according to Pahor.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the escalation of the conflict between the US and Iran, and condemned all kinds of violence and the latest armed attacks in Iraq, which it said increased risks for more violence in the entire region.

"Violence and attacks on civilians, diplomatic and consular missions and on cultural monuments are a blatant violation of civilisational norms and international law, so we oppose such acts," the ministry said in a release.

It urged all sides to avoid any acts that could lead to further destabilisation of Iraq and the region, calling for dialogue.

The ministry added it was in contact with the Slovenian soldiers in Iraq, stressing they were there as part of a global coalition against Islamic State (IS) which played a key role in strengthening the Iraqi military forces' capabilities in fighting IS.

"We believe it is in the interest of the global coalition and of Iraq and the region's long-term stability for the international community to continue to provide Iraq with assistance as Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully respected," the ministry said.

04 Jan 2020, 17:36 PM

Andrej Šiško, president of the United Slovenia political party and a leader of Štajerska varda paramilitary group, was arrested at the Pohorje Battalion Commemorative Ceremony this Saturday.

Šiško has already been sentenced to eight months in jail for incitement to subversion of the constitutional order (see here), but he and his lawyer believed that time served while in remand would suffice, and that Šiško would not be called back to jail after sentencing. The court decided otherwise, and called the militia leader to complete his sentence in December 2019 by issuing an arrest warrant.

This Saturday Šiško and several members of Štajerska varda showed up at the annual ceremony on Osankarica, with the keynote speaker being the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Jernej Pikalo. Šiško was allegedly apprehended when he attempted to approach President Borut Pahor.

President Pahor responded to the incident with the following comment: “We have the right to express our opinions, but also to respect the dignity of other people as well as of the commemorative events. Especially when these are solemn events.”

The annual ceremony by the Three Nails memorial commemorates the last battle of the Pohorje Battalion, which occurred on January 8, 1943. Only one of the partisans in the battle survived, but he was later executed.

pohorski batalijon.jpg

All our stories about Andrej Šiško are here

04 Jan 2020, 10:33 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 3 January 2020

Mladina: Change ahead for the global economy in 2020

STA, 3 January 2019 - The trade war the US started three years ago could get a new development in 2020 which will be caused by Europe as it is transiting to cleaner technologies. To promote clean technologies as it pursues its CO2 commitments, Europe will have to resort to customs and taxes, "which changes everything", the left-wing weekly Mladina says on Friday.

Europe is rushing the change especially because of the interests of Germany, its No. 1 economic power which wants to be the leader, says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž, noting the German industry is expected to roll out this year many new materials and products, which will not be competitive at least in their first years.

The editor says there is some historical irony and a lot of symbolism in Europe starting the transition to cleaner industries and a new way of protecting its interests with steel.

Firstly, steel epitomises the old and dirty industry which used to turn entire regions in deserts, and secondly, the EU was in 1950 formed to protect its steel industry.

Ursula von der Leyen included the introduction of a CO2 tax in Europe in the programme of the new European Commission, thus highlighting a new/old way of protecting European interests in order to adapt to the climate crisis.

She believes Europe should not allow its market getting flooded by cheap Chinese steel which is possibly subsidised and produced in an environmentally contentious manner.

"This announcement clearly shows that Europe will change its economic behaviour, while other superpowers will not be just watching what is going on.

"The global economy could thus change significantly due to the climate crisis ...," Repovž says, adding that things may well not develop as Europe would like it.

The transition will cost a lot at first and there is no doubt that European countries and the EU itself will have to help companies financially.

Industries are thus in for several difficult years as production and markets gets adapted to new environmental standards.

This is not just an economic issue, but also a political one because such developments can cause political turmoil, Repovž concludes the editorial A Fight for New Economy.

Demokracija: Doubts about the multiplier effect of state investment

Ljubljana, 3 January - The right-wing weekly Demokracija disputes the argument that state investment in infrastructure projects has a multiplier effect on the national economy and economic growth, rubbishing an op-ed article in which economist Jože P. Damijan argued against the selection of Turkey's Cengiz as the contractor to build the Karavanke motorway tunnel.

In the latest editorial, headlined Jože P. Damijan's Voodoo Economics, Demokracija editor-in-chief Jože Biščak notes that the article appeared in Delo, the newspaper owned by the industrial concern Kolektor, whose construction arm was one of the bidders in the tender to built the Slovenian section of the tunnel.

"Since the deep state is facing the threat of a similar outcome in other public infrastructure tenders (...) Jože P. Damijan set out to 'scientifically' prove why the state should renounce (cheaper) foreign contractors (in particular the Turks), and explained to the executive how to get rid of them.

"Damijan is not just anybody, in a decade and a half the man went from being a young free market economist to an advocate of the command economy, becoming the darling of Forum 21 and the leading left economist," writes Biščak.

He says that in his "zeal Damijan applied his strongest weapon - the multiplier effect", which Biščak denounces as a myth, quoting economists Federic Bastiat and Friedrich von Wieser.

"This is not to say the national and local governments should not invest money into infrastructure (...) but they should do so with utmost care. Including by seeing to the cheapest possible implementation of an infrastructure project.

"Governments do not produce a market value (...) Even less has their investment multiplier effects. This has also been established in a working document of the IMF for 2014 (which Damijan often refers to) by economist Andrew M. Warner, who found few (empirical) pieces of evidence that infrastructure projects had multiplier effect or generated economic growth.

"The state can do most for the domestic economy by ensuring a functional rule of law and by allowing freedom to people. That should be Slovenia's reality if it wants to be a successful country."

All our posts in this series are here

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