08 Nov 2019, 15:13 PM

STA, 8 November 2019 - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković is potentially on the line for a significant tax bill stemming from transactions with companies owned by his sons, web portal Siol reported on Friday.

The Tax Administration put a specific type of lien on his family house to the tune of EUR 335,000, a move it typically resorts to if it intends to issue a tax bill.

Such a lien prevents the person subject to a tax audit from selling or encumbering the property or before the end of the audit.

While Janković has refused to comment on the details of the audit, Siol says the tax liability stems from payments the mayor had received from Electa Group, owned by his sons Jure and Damijan Janković.

These transactions have been subject to media scrutiny several times before; Janković claims the money was payback for loans he had given his sons in the past.

This is just one of the Janković family business dealings that authorities are looking at.

Less than two months ago his sons attempted to send the core Electa company into bankruptcy using a simplified insolvency procedure reserved for micro firms, but the procedure was stopped on suspicion creditors may be defrauded.

His son Jure, meanwhile, faces a EUR 600,000 tax bill after tax inspectors found a huge mismatch between his assets and his reported income. Both sons are reportedly in personal bankruptcy.

08 Nov 2019, 12:30 PM

STA, 7 November 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar started an official visit to Jordan on Thursday by meeting the country's senior officials, including his counterpart Ayman Safadi. The first such visit in almost two decades is designed to boost bilateral political and business links.

According to a press release from the Foreign Ministry, Cerar and Safadi talked about the combat against terrorism, development aid, the countries' cooperation in the Union for the Mediterranean and the situation in Syria.

Cerar hailed Jordan "as a pillar of stability, peace and religious tolerance in the Middle East". He also expressed interest in enhancing cooperation with Jordan and other countries in the region.

Cerar expressed Slovenia's unflagging support for political efforts to resolve the Syria crisis under the sponsorship of the United Nations and under a Security Council resolution.

The Slovenian-run international demining fund ITF - Enhancing Human Security is supporting a two-year project in support of Syrian refugees in the Irbid province in north Jordan.

Safadi noted that the two countries shared views on foreign policy issues such as their advocacy of effective multilateralism and looking to preserve water resources.

The Jordanian foreign minister called for improving air links between the two countries, with him and Cerar agreeing on the need to revive partnership between the Slovenian port of Koper and Jordan's Aqaba in a bid to increase bilateral trade.

Calls for cooperation between the two ports also ranked prominently as Cerar met Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tariq Hammouri.

The pair urged the implementation of the memorandum of understanding signed between the two port operators in 2015.

The talks showed potential for cooperation in agriculture, energy, information technologies, telecommunications, logistics, medicine and tourism, said the Foreign Ministry.

The Slovenian foreign minister also met Upper House Speaker Faisal Al-Fayez as well as Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh. They all agreed that the relations between Jordan and the EU were good and could serve as a stepping stone for creating numerous new jobs in Jordan through reinforced trade and investment cooperation.

They also called for the inter-parliamentary cooperation and focussed on the Palestine and Syrian situations.

Moreover, Cerar met Tourism Minister Majd Mohammad Shweike, with the pair discussing options for setting up a direct charter route between Jordan and Slovenia in summer as well as for the collaboration between the investment and entrepreneurship promotion agency Spirit and Jordanian tourism organisation.

The visit is designed to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries, in particular reinforcing political and economic relations.

Jordan is also seen as a port of entry for some other markets in the Arab world with the Foreign Ministry noting the importance of the Jordanian market, also because of the country's good relations with all countries in the region.

Jordan and Slovenia also cooperate well in the Union for the Mediterranean, where Slovenia has been focusing on supporting empowering young people through education and intercultural dialogue as part of the initiative Positive Agenda for Youth in the Mediterranean.

The country will host in 2021 a ministerial conference of the Union for the Mediterranean on higher education. Cerar has invited representatives of Jordanian companies to take part in the conference.

Cerar was tonight scheduled to take part in a working dinner hosted by Slovenian Consul General Ali Haider Murad which will also be attended by representatives of the Jordanian Senate and Jordanian tourism organisation.

08 Nov 2019, 11:30 AM

STA, 7 November - President Borut Pahor completed his state visit to Norway on Thursday after he was received by King Harald V and met top Norwegian officials on Wednesday, including Prime Minister Erna Solberg, with whom he highlighted the excellent bilateral relations and shared views on a number of global challenges.

The pair confirmed that Slovenia and Norway advocated efficient multilateralism, the rule of law and human rights, the Slovenian president's office said in a release.

They also agreed there was still a lot of potential to deepen economic cooperation, foremost in circular economy, environmental technology, AI, robotics, ICT and tourism.

Security and the EU's future also featured strongly, with the pair noting the EU should be strengthened to provide for security and thus protect European values and national identities.

The two officials also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans, calling for countries from the region to join the EU and, if they wish so, also NATO.

After meeting Solberg, Pahor pointed to the importance of his state visit, noting the Norwegian royal couple hosted only two such high-level visits a year.

Slovenia has earned it with its efforts for peace and prosperity at home, in the region and the EU, and with its efforts for reconciliation and peaceful resolution of all issues, Pahor said.

Norway has a good reputation in Slovenia because of its foreign policy of "peaceful resolution of all disputes", said Pahor, adding Slovenia and Norway shared "many values and views on global issues".

He believes his meetings with the Norwegian officials - he also met Speaker Tone Wilhelmsen Troen - will deepen bilateral cooperation in various fields.

In his toast at the gala dinner last evening, King Harald V hailed the role of the alliance among like-minded countries.

He stressed that Norway and Slovenia should "use our joint strength to tackle global challenges - security, climate change, human rights and the rule of law".

Pahor in turn highlighted the role of bees. "The Carniolan honeybee was - more than hundred years ago - one of the first export articles from our lands to Norway. Nowadays, we are both aware of the importance of bees and pollinators for our ecosystem and food chain."

The main event on Pahor's agenda today was a business conference at research organisation SINTEF, where Slovenia's Jožef Stefan Institute and SINTEF signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation.

The three-year memorandum covers the fields of AI, circular economy, sustainable mobility and innovative materials, Slovenia's top research institution said in a press release.

Pahor and the royal couple also attended the opening of an exhibition on Slovenian Alpine architecture, and a seminar on beekeeping and pollination, where Pahor presented the king with a beehive decorated in traditional Slovenian style.

In the evening, Pahor is hosting a Slovenian Evening, a promotional event, which will also be attended by the royal couple.

Pahor was accompanied in Norway by Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, Education, Science and Sport Minister Jernej Pikalo, Agriculture, Forestry and Food Minister Aleksandra Pivec and business and science executives.

07 Nov 2019, 11:05 AM

STA, 6 November 2019 - The opposition Left (Levica) declared on Wednesday that its partnership with the minority government was over after the ruling coalition made its support for a key Left-sponsored bill conditional on adoption of their amendments. Despite the turn, PM Marjan Šarec and the coalition are adamant to serve out their term.

"The final domino has fallen, we find the government has unequivocally broken off cooperation and pulled out from the agreement with us," the Left's leader Luka Mesec said after debate on the party's bill to scrap top-up health insurance was suspended with the coalition announcing several amendments.

The coalition "ran over" the Left-sponsored bill through its amendments, said Mesec, adding that as of this point the agreement with the government was no longer binding on the Left, which from now on was fully in opposition.

However, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said it was not the government, but rather the Left which was quitting the partnership. He was determined to complete his term in office, but said this would not be possible without compromising.

The Left would like to abolish top-up health insurance collected by private insurance companies and needed for virtually all health services by folding it into mandatory health contributions, at different rates, depending on the individual's income.

The coalition meanwhile proposes lump sum payments for the time being, which would be set at EUR 29 a month at first, and could be adjusted once a year. It would be paid by those who currently pay for mandatory health insurance.

The parliamentary Health Committee suspended debate on the Left-sponsored bill, after coalition parties tabled several relevant amendments the adoption of which they made conditional on their support for the bill.

The session was suspended so that other parties and the parliamentary legal service could take their position on the amendments, but the Left said that it had been urging the government for a month already to table amendments. The legal service also raised the question of the admissibility of such amendments.

The amendments are doing nothing to do away with top-up insurance, but "merely fold it into a new gift wrap, and the coalition are only washing their hands", Mesec told reporters.

He said the point of scrapping top-up insurance was to introduce solidarity-based contributions, while the coalition's amendments "preserve the same contribution for everyone regardless of their income".

"They had more than two months to reach an agreement with us, but instead they bring today, at the start of the bill's reading ... amendments that we haven't heard of before. Even the legal service finds the bill is being changed to a point it is in fact a new bill," said Mesec.

Apart from the latest bill, Mesec also listed his party's grievances about the reform of the personal income tax which the party says favours the rich, end of bonuses for social benefit recipients who work and the budget, which he described as neither social nor development-oriented.

He said the Left was not trying to bring down the Marjan Šarec government. "We've merely ascertained that the government has resigned from the agreement it struck with the Left, which is clear in all the mentioned cases."

The Left would like to continue to cooperate with the government, but "the problem is that we've been ignored for several months". Mesec would not answer concretely when asked whether the party might now bring a motion of no confidence.

Šarec, who was commenting on the row on before Mesec made his comments, repeated that he did not want to break off cooperation with the Left, but he regretted "ultimatum politics".

"I'd expect some more patience on the part of the Left because we have implemented many projects together ... However, not all their projects are feasible in the way they imagine them to be.

"Politics is a matter of compromise, in particular in a minority government," Šarec said, noting that several majority governments before had attempted to end top-up insurance but failed. He said such legislation could be passed only if everyone made an effort for a compromise.

Without formal support from the Left, Šarec said the government had to seek support for each project and law outside the coalition anyway, and he expects other parties to support the government proposals they agree with, so he "I don't see need to sign agreements" with some other opposition party.

The opposition National Party (SNS) announced before it would provide the needed support to pass the budget, but Šarec would not say his government depended on the party's votes, "we depend on all MPs' votes".

Šarec said asking him whether he would serve out his term, was "like asking me whether I'll be run over by a car ... my plan is for the government to complete its term, I see no reason why it shouldn't ... It depends on those who are fond of calling press conferences and shaking the boat one way or the other."

Šarec's LMŠ party regretted the Left's decision to end partnership, and so did the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), while the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) maintained that the Left had not shown genuine willingness to cooperate anyway.

LMŠ deputy group leader Brane Golubović does not think the decision would change much. "The government will still be stable and the coalition would continue stable," he said, expecting cooperation on some projects to continue with the Left, including to abolish top-up insurance.

Dejan Židan, the head of the coalition Social Democrats (SD), said that had the Left had sincere intentions, it would have accepted the coalition's proposal "with open arms". "We have witnessed the realisation of a scenario which was apparently made a week ago," he added.

Židan believes that the party had already decided that it would be easier for it to increase ratings "if they get fully radicalised in the opposition," and that this was a tactic for short-distance runs, not long-term cooperation.

07 Nov 2019, 09:32 AM

STA, 6 November 2019 - The Labour Ministry is not planning in the short term to sign any new agreements on employing foreign workers, as there are enough recruitment opportunities in the country's neighbourhood for now. It also said on Wednesday it was keeping an eye on labour market dynamics prompted by warnings of a higher economic slowdown risk.

Responding to the recent media reports of Slovenia being interested in employing 2,000-5,000 Philippine workers, the ministry said the country was not preparing to enter into a bilateral agreement with the Philippines on issuing such work permits.

As for importing foreign workers, the ministry follows a migration strategy adopted this year which aims to curb the trend of Slovenian workers leaving the country, promote labour circulation and encourage Slovenians who have been away for a longer period to return home, State Secretary Tilen Božič told the press.

When looking for foreign workers, the ministry focusses on the areas which are geographically and culturally close to Slovenia. The country has so far signed two such treaties - with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, with another agreement being drawn up with Ukraine.

"Currently, the wider region provides enough opportunities," said Božič, highlighting that in any case negotiations to conclude such an agreement entailed a number of steps and usually took several years.

Asked whether businesses had been calling on the ministry to sign new work permit agreements, Božič said that businesses were more interested in a decree that would enable faster procedures to employ a foreign worker.

He also pointed out that out of some 900,000 working in Slovenia in August, almost 100,000 were foreigners, while in the same month in 2013, there were over 50,000 foreign workers out of 760,000 workers, adding that these figures indicated distinct shifts, including in Slovenia's economy and the labour market, which demanded swift adjustment tactics.

Slovenian media reported in late October that a delegation led by Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti visited the Philippines to strengthen bilateral economic relations and met a Labour Ministry state secretary.

The delegation was accompanied by representatives of Slovenian businesses and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), who were the ones calling for importing Philippine workers, the Economy Ministry said last month, distancing itself from this possible strategy.

The ministry also added at the time that bilateral trade with the Philippines was modest; however, the Philippines' economic growth projections were opening up a huge potential for Slovenia, according to the MMC web portal of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

The GZS told the STA today that it was currently not considering any new work permit agreements and that the October meeting, which was attended by Slovenian Honorary Consul to the Philippines Srečko Debelak as well, was an isolated case among such organised events.

According to the chamber, Slovenia's industry is looking for workforce outside the EU in the Western Balkans countries and Ukraine, focussing in particular on skills from the occupation shortage list.

Businesses can employ foreign workers from countries with which Slovenia does not have such an agreement; however, employment procedures are more complex in this case, the Labour Ministry told the STA today.

Regardless of the agreement status, the key issue in these procedures is a lack of Slovenian language skills. The existent agreements with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia envisage pre-integration measures which tackle this issue and are funded by the EU, the ministry explained.

06 Nov 2019, 12:00 PM

STA, 5 November 2019 - A summit of the Friends of Cohesion, an informal group of EU members opposing cuts to cohesion funds, urged the EU to adopt a 2021-2027 budget with a sufficient amount of cohesion funds. Slovenian PM Marjan Šarec said that "a strong EU needs a sufficient and future-oriented budget" which will address the bloc's key challenges.

The EU will not be able to achieve this if cohesion funds are cut, so a strong cohesion policy should be preserved, Šarec said at the summit of 17 net recipients of development funds from the EU budget in Prague on Tuesday.

Friends of Cohesion leaders, coming from central, east and south Europe, adopted a declaration which highlights the importance of cohesion policy for reaching some of the EU's key goals, such as economic and social convergence, a functioning internal market and the fight against climate change.

The summit comes before the December EU summit at which key stage in the talks on the next seven-year budget is to be launched, and after the European Commission proposed a cut in cohesion funds.

"If we want to protect cohesion policy, the volume of the multi-year financial framework should stay close to the Commission's proposal of 1.11% of the EU-27's GNP," said Šarec.

It is several net contributors - unofficially the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Germany - that would like the budget to amount to only 1% of GNP, but Šarec said this would not be acceptable for Slovenia. He added the Friends of Cohesion did not want the funds for cohesion and agriculture to drop.

"For us, cohesion funds are of exceptional importance, they have enabled Slovenia and other countries to develop," he told reporters after the summit.

Last May the Commission proposed the 2021-2027 budget of EUR 1,135 billion, of which cohesion funds - a major source of development funds for Central and East European as well as poorer Mediterranean EU members - would amount to EUR 331 billion.

Under this proposal, which is based on per capita GDP statistics for 2014-2016, Slovenia would be entitled to EUR 3.073 billion in cohesion funds. However, it was later agreed data for 2015-2017 would be used, as a result of which Slovenia would lose some funds.

Šarec said Slovenia was pushing for the latest statistics not to be used because they placed it among developed countries, "but we know that our two cohesion regions are not as developed as we would wish".

"Member states cannot lose a significant share of cohesion funds simply because of updated statistics. It is also unacceptable for any EU region, especially if it has half of a country's population, to lose the majority of money from structural funds overnight," said Šarec.

This referred to Slovenia's western cohesion region, for which a budget of 1% of GNP would according to Šarec entail "a drastic cut in funds".

The talks on the EU's next budget were launched in July 2018 and are expected to be completed in spring 2020. Šarec said it was hard to say whether a deal would actually be reached in spring, and expects the talks to be "long and tough".

The Prague summit was hosted by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. It featured prime ministers and representatives of Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, and European Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

06 Nov 2019, 10:30 AM

STA, 5 November 2019 - Karel Holec has been elected the new president of one of the two Slovenian minority umbrella organisations in Hungary, taking over from Martin Ropoša, who has led the State Slovenian Self-Government organisation since its establishment in 1995, public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported on Tuesday.

Holec, 50, is a journalist and photographer for the Porabje weekly, the only Slovenian-language paper in Hungary, which was launched in 1991. From 1994 to 2006, he was mayor of Orfalu, or Andovci in Slovenian.

The new leader said he would continue with the minority's main project - efforts to develop the Raba Valley (Porabje) to enable young people to stay in the region.

The minority organisation is seated in the town of Felsoszolnok (Gornji Senik) and has a unit in Budapest. Ropoša will from now on serve as its vice president.

Earlier this year, the other umbrella minority organisations in Hungary also got a new leader.

In May, Andrea Kovač replaced Jože Hirnök at the helm of the Association of Slovenians in Hungary after he led the organisation from its establishment in 1990.

The association is based in the town of Szentgotthard (Monošter).

There are some 5,000 Slovenians living in Hungary, of whom some 3,000 in the Raba Valley area along the border with Slovenia.

06 Nov 2019, 09:30 AM

Please note that a forum on white collar crime was organised by the Centre for Education in Judiciary, which operates under the wing of the Justice Ministry, not by the Association of State Prosecutors, as stated in Tuesday's copy in para 2.

STA, 5 November 2019 - White-collar crime in the usual sense is on decline in Slovenia, while corruption is on the rise, State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa said on Tuesday. Prosecutor Boštjan Valenčič believes this is so because "corruption is still socially acceptable".

Addressing a two-day forum on white collar crime hosted by the Centre for Education in Judiciary, Šketa called corruption a "systemic anomaly", which should be prevented by state mechanisms.

He gave corruption in healthcare as an example, saying that criminal proceedings were being launched for acts committed ten years ago. "Supervisory mechanisms should have detected those anomalies right at the start."

Valenčič, a prosecutor at the Specialised State Prosecution, said that case law was gradually being created for white collar crime.

Responding to public criticism that "the big fish always get away with it", he said that certain "big fish" were serving their sentences at the moment, while some had been found not guilty by courts.

He said a reason why the procedures in high-profile cases took so long was outdated legislation, which did not envisage cases of such complexity and so many suspects.

Another reason is that Slovenia did not have a specialised court for dealing with white-collar crime cases, Valenčič said.

This was echoed by former State Prosecutor General Zvonko Fišer, who was critical of the changes to the penal code and the criminal procedure act made in recent years. "These are complex laws, which need to be consistent. Our current approach, changing the law over individual cases, does not lead to good solutions," he said.

The prosecutors also touched on the confiscation of assets of illicit origin act, which was watered down by a Constitutional Court decision that the law cannot apply for assets gained before the passage of the law.

They agreed Slovenia should follow the example of Italy, which has an instrument called preventive confiscation, which is not bound to a concrete criminal act. This mechanism has also received a green light from the European Court of Human Rights.

Fišer was also very critical of the recently launched inquiry into the prosecution of Franc Kangler, the former Maribor mayor.

"The fact that parliament ordered an inquiry to establish political responsibility of judges and state prosecutors in concrete criminal cases is a first-class scandal," he said.

He was also critical of the fact that neither the president, prime minister nor justice minister reacted to this. "I don't expect them to defend any individual decisions of the judiciary, but they should say that in a democratic country investigating the political responsibility of judges and prosecutors is a no-go," he said.

05 Nov 2019, 12:36 PM

STA, 5 November 2019 - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Peter Jožef Česnik is starting a ten-day visit to Australia on Tuesday. Travelling across the continent, he will make stops in Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne and several other smaller towns to meet members of the community he belonged to for nearly four decades.

On route to Australia, Česnik made a stop in Singapore, where Slovenians are building a new community, the government Office for Slovenians Abroad said before the trip.

Česnik will start his tour in Brisbane and then travel to Sydney, where he will visit the Slovenian-Australian chamber of commerce, as well as the two Slovenian associations based there and a church. He will also meet Tanya Pliberšek, the years long Labour deputy president and former cabinet minister.

He will visit the community in Wollongong before heading to Canberra, where he will meet the Slovenian community and Ambassador Jurij Rifelj, and lay a wreath at the War Memorial dedicated to Australian soldiers who lost their lives in combat.

Česnik will also visit the community in Geelong and meet community representatives of greater Melbourne, as well as Honorary Consul Eddy Kontelj.

He will then travel to Adelaide, where he will be welcomed by South Australia Governor Hieu Van Le and visit the National Wine Centre of Australia.

The minister will end his tour in Perth, where the small Slovenian community is gaining new momentum, as local Marjana Kaker is to be named honorary consul for Western Australia.

The government Office for Slovenians Abroad estimates that Australia is home to between 20,000 and 25,000 people of Slovenian descent. Minister Česnik himself moved to Australia in 1967 and lived there for 36 years before returning to Slovenia after retiring.

05 Nov 2019, 11:45 AM

STA, 4 November 2019 - The Slovenian and Italian police forces will further enhance cooperation in fighting illegal migrations, as the number of joint police patrols, launched on 1 July, will be doubled from four to eight, the General Police Department told the STA on Monday.

In July a three-month trial period started in which the two countries' mixed police units patrolled the border to curb illegal migrations. The cooperation continued into October.

Since such cooperation was assessed as effective in migration management, the leaderships of border police from both countries agreed to prolong and enhance it.

It was agreed in Trieste on 24 October to double the patrols to eight, with seven patrolling the border in the area of the Koper Police Department in the south-west of Slovenia and one in the area of the Nova Gorica Police Department further north on the Slovenian-Italian border.

The two police forces also agreed to exchange information more promptly to allow for more flexible planning of joint policing of the border, the Slovenian police also said.

Border areas will be patrolled alternately on both sides of the border on the basis of a detailed analysis of the routes used by illegal migrants. The legal basis for the cooperation is the 2007 Slovenia-Italy agreement on cross-border police cooperation.

In the July-September period, over 1,900 foreigners were processed for crossing the Slovenian-Italian border illegally in the area policed by the Koper Police Department, up from almost 1,800 in the same three-month period in 2018. In the area covered by the Nova Gorica Police Department, 42 persons were processed, up from 33.

04 Nov 2019, 10:00 AM

STA, 3 November 2019 - Milan Kučan, Slovenia's first president, criticised political elites in Slovenia and Croatia in his address at a commemorative ceremony in Croatia on Sunday, accusing them of a lack of ideas to resolve issues troubling bilateral relations. He also called for dialogue to resolve the Catalan crisis.

The ceremony at Kučibreg in Istria marked the 75th anniversary of the World War Two battles in which more than 120 Croatian, Slovenian and Italian Partisan resistance members were killed in fighting the Germans together.

The ceremony, organised by organisations and local authorities from the three countries, was also attended by Slovenia's Ambassador to Croatia Vojislav Šuc, among others.

In his keynote, Kučan said that "the fight for freedom never ends" because "freedom is never secured for ever", and that the message of the Kučibreg battles was that the fight for freedom knew no national boundaries.

"The desire for freedom cannot be confined to one man, one group or one nation. This was also testified by the fighters here, on the slopes of Kučibreg, where Slovenes, Croats and Italians fought together. They fought under the common banner of freedom."

Turning to the troubled relationship between Slovenia and Croatia today, Kučan said: "Is it truly more important to deny the right to a few miles of sea and to deny the authority of international tribunal than to have the opportunity for both countries to contribute to resolving vital issues in the EU?"

Responsible politicians should know that there are no winners in such disputes, and that there are no innocents, he said. "If anything, it is a shared defeat," he said, adding that both countries lack ideas, direction and capability to make serious initiatives and take steps in resolving issues.

Kučan also raised the developments in Catalonia in his address, in what he described as a field of the fight for freedom, human rights and human dignity.

"Catalan-Spanish relations are in a serious political crisis," which could only be solved through democratic political means, openness, dialogue and responsibility on the part of the parties involved.

He said it was necessary to say out loud that it was unacceptable to have political prisoners in any country in Europe today. "We cannot keep silent, because silence would mean assuming responsibility for the fate of the recently convicted Catalan leaders, and for the fate of European values."

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