Politics

13 Feb 2019, 14:36 PM

STA, 13 February 2019 - President Pahor has called elections to the European Parliament for 26 May, initiating formal procedures leading up to the vote.

This year's elections to the European Parliament will take place across the continent between 23 and 26 May. Since Slovenia holds elections on Sunday, the only possible date is 26 May.

The writ issued on Wednesday means candidates will be able to formally register starting on 25 February, with the election campaign officially starting a month before voting day.

Pahor said he will not intercede in the campaign directly but will "dare to emphasise as president of the republic how important the EU is for our national interest."

This year's election could chart the course of future development of the EU, either in the direction of stronger integration or towards a smaller and weaker EU. This is why it is important that Europeans vote on the fate of the common European home.

"The results of our will need to be understood and respected after the election. This is why these elections ... are particularly important," he said.

Outlining the political landscape months before the vote, Pahor said the EU was experiencing a hiatus that has led to popular discontent and hence given rise to ideas for a loosening of integration and a "return to national frameworks".

But this does not bode well for Slovenia since it marks a "return to the old European geopolitics, which strengthens what divides us rather than what brings us together."

"The nurturing and development of the common European home guarantees peace, security and prosperity, its demise would jeopardise all that," he said.

Confused about the elections? The Wikipedia page is here with the basic facts and figures

13 Feb 2019, 11:50 AM

STA, 12 February 2019 - The parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services debated on Tuesday the national security implications of a lengthy dispute with Italy over radio signals travelling across the border, and ways to protect Slovenian radio stations.

The dispute goes back well over a decade and revolves around frequency interference of radio broadcast signals that cross the border.

Some Slovenian stations have been ordered to pay fines by Italian courts, which has led to recurring criticism in Slovenia, most recently in 2016.

Italy insists Slovenian radio stations' signal in the border area is too strong, while Slovenia has accused Italy of failing to honour international agreements which govern such cases.

Commission chair Matej Tonin said the MPs inquired with the government what it was doing to protect Slovenian radio stations from court decisions that he said were "inappropriate considering how these issues are regulated internationally."

He said Slovenian stations may decide to withdraw from the border area for fear of fines, which would mean that "Slovenian language and Slovenian culture would not be heard in this area," which could represent "a significant security threat" in the absence of action.

According to Tonin, some of the measures presented by the government included counter lawsuits against Italian radio stations for frequency interference in Slovenia, assignment of additional frequencies to Slovenian operators, and legal assistance in cases before Italian courts.

The debate came just two days after senior Italian officials caused uproar in Slovenia and Croatia with statements interpreted as attempts at historical revisionism.

Tonin said that the context made the debate "all the more heated and pertinent".

13 Feb 2019, 10:20 AM

STA, 12 February 2019 - Slovenia auctioned off EUR 181m-worth of treasury bills on Tuesday, the biggest single T-bills issue in several years, at interest rates that remain at record low levels.

Three-month bills have an interest rate of -0.38%, six-month bills will yield -0.39% and twelve-month bills -0.40%. The papers will be formally issued on 14 February, the Finance Ministry said.

The interest rates are slightly lower than in the last issue in October, when six-month bills yielded -0.38% and twelve-month bills were sold at -0.39%.

This is the second borrowing round this year after Slovenia issued a new 10-year reference eurobond worth EUR 1.5bn in January.

Total borrowing for this year has been capped at EUR 2.1bn.

12 Feb 2019, 18:22 PM

STA, 12 February 2019 - Slovenian MEPs belonging to the European People's Party (EPP) share the concerns over Sunday's WWII aftermath statements by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, but all except New Slovenia's (NSi) Lojze Peterle accepted the Italian's apology. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar will meanwhile ask Tajani for additional explanations.

Related: Slovenian Officials Criticise Italian "Revisionism" Over Foibe Massacres

Democrats (SDS) MEPs Patricija Šulin, Romana Tomc in Milan Zver wrote they accepted Tajani's explanation that his statements at the ceremony commemorating ethnic Italians killed by Yugoslav Partisans after WWII should definitely not be understood as nationalistic.

Commenting on Tajani's call "Long live Trieste, long live the Italian Istria, long live the Italian Dalmatia", the trio referenced the response of SDS leader Janez Janša, who said that Istria is Italian to the same extent as the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is Slovenian.

Focusing on the part of Tajani's statement that undermined Slovenia's and Croatia's territorial integrity, Tomc added for the STA that "such reckless statements introduce unnecessary disquiet, especially since this chapter of history between Italy and Slovenia is closed".

While Tajani said in his apology that he had merely wanted to convey a message of peace, Tomc expects additional explanations and an open conversation also at the level of the EPP.

Related: President Pahor & Speaker Židan Express Concern After Neo-Fascist Rally in Trieste (Video)

At the same time she condemned what she labelled "a very populist reaction" to Tajani's speech.

Franc Bogovič of the Slovenian People's Party (SLS) also said phrases like Italian Istria and Dalmatia were completely unacceptable, with the memory still being alive of the horrors of the Fascist regime in occupied territories in Slovenia and Croatia after WWI.

Bogovič, however, also accepted Tajani's apology, leaving Peterle, Slovenia's first prime minister, as the only one to reject it.

"Neither his speech nor his half-hearted apology can be seen as contributing to peace," Peterle wrote, arguing Tajani did not apologise for his words but for their interpretation.

The NSi joined calls for Tajani's resignation.

Cerar is also disappointed

Meanwhile, also unhappy with Tajani's apology is Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, who wrote to Tajani to remind him that European institutions and the European Parliament president had the duty to protect European values and not encourage this type of discourse.

Cerar, who is the head of the ALDE-affiliated Modern Centre Party (SMC), said the apology fell short of what he and Slovenia expect and that "it is fair that this matter be clarified fully".

"While every apology is welcome, it needs to be very clear that it involves the recognition of a mistake and the pledge the mistake will not repeat," Cerar said.

In the letter, Cerar said Tajani's statements had not reflected the spirit of the EU or its founding values.

"On the contrary, your statements are taking us back to times when dangerous rhetoric was used in Europe to encourage hatred towards other nations and create tensions."

"Many of us understood your statements as a threat, which is why we expect a sincere apology. The explanation regarding the alleged misinterpretation of you statements unfortunately does not suffice, since the statements run contrary to the basic principles of European order as laid down in the Helsinki Final Act on security and cooperation in Europe," Cerar wrote.

Cerar expects the leaders of European institutions to clearly say no to revisionism, to incitement of intolerance and hatred among nations.

"The tragic events of our shared history should not be the subject of political reinterpretations," the foreign minister added.

Cerar forwarded to Tajani a copy of a 2000 report by a bilateral commission of historians who examined Slovenian-Italian relations in the 1880-1956 period.

No apology from Salvini

While Tajani issued what has been described as a non-apology, Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has doubled down on statements he made at the ceremony and later on Twitter.

He said he did not understand the reaction of Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who spoke of "unparalleled revisionism" and wrote that "Fascism was a fact and its goal was to destroy the Slovenian nation".

"I don't believe that a child killed by the hands of a Nazi is any different than a child killed by the hands of a communist," Salvini said on Monday evening for an Italian TV report.

12 Feb 2019, 15:38 PM

February 12, 2019

Delo reports that European  Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is only weeks away from deciding on Slovenia’s suit against Croatia, who according to the plaintiff unlawfully prevented repayment of the loans that Ljubljanska Banka (LB) made to Croatian companies. According to Delo, this will also be the first state-to-state property rights violation case in front of the EHRC, and only the fifth overall, as most cases at the ECHR are lodged by private persons.

In a dispute that began as both countries gained their independence, Slovenia had already been ordered to repay the LB foreign currency saving accounts that went missing following the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the consequent transformation of Ljubljanska banka into Nova ljubljanska banka.

Slovenia, who has been taken to court by Croatian savers and has already settled its €163 million debt according to the court’s decision, is arguing that if the Slovenian state had to repay LB debts to Croatian savers, then the unpaid loans taken by Croatian companies have to be repaid to LB as well.

Slovenia decided to lodge its application at the ECHR after exhausting all legal remedies in Croatia. According to its assessment the Croatian courts, Constitutional Court included, continue to prevent collecting claims from the Croatian companies for Ljubljanska banka, the plaintiff, with politics being one way to achieve this. As an example of the latter Delo cites the example of then finance minister Slavko Linić, who in 2007 prevented the execution of the final decision in favour of LB, claiming that until LB repays its Croatian clients’ saving accounts, there will be no ruling in favour of LB either. LB then took the case to theECHR, which eight years later ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the matter since LB was a state-owned bank.

In a current lawsuit Croatia disputes ECHR's jurisdiction over the case, arguing that Slovenia filled an application out of dissatisfaction with the rulings of the Croatian courts.

The Grand Chamber of the ECHR will first decide on the admissibility of the Slovenian suit, only then will the content assessment follow.

12 Feb 2019, 11:50 AM

STA, 11 February 2019 - Talat Xhaferi, the speaker of the Macedonian parliament, heard praise for the steps his country made to join NATO as he was welcomed by his counterpart Dejan Židan in Ljubljana on Monday, a day before the Slovenian National Assembly is to endorse Macedonia's accession to NATO under its new name.

Židan, addressing a join press conference with Xhaferi, spoke of an "historic moment" with the Macedonian parliament speaker visiting today, "and we adopting the ratification of the Accession Protocol between NATO and North Macedonia as early as tomorrow".

Asked by the STA when the Prespa Agreement with Greece changing Macedonia's name would enter into force, Xhaferi said the deal set forth that the new name applies with the ratification of the North Macedonia's NATO Accession Protocol in the Greek parliament, which happened last Friday.

However, procedure-wise, the agreement stipulates that after the ratification in the Greek parliament, Macedonia notify the United Nations on the name change, after which all UN countries need to implement internal legislation procedures to use the new name.

Židan noted the significance of the accession protocol for Macedonia and the broader region in that "makes it possible to increase security in the Western Balkans" and give hope for the region, "divided by too many diverging views".

The ratification of the Accession Protocol was confirmed by the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee in a 15:1 vote today, while the plenary will vote tomorrow when MPs are also addressed by Xhaferi.

After Greece, Slovenia will be the second NATO member to ratify Macedonia's accession. The government initially wanted ratification with immediate effect, but the Constitution determines that it will take effect 15 days after publication.

Xhaferi expects that Macedonia will become the 30th NATO member under its new name at the end of this or at the beginning of next year, after being given observer status last week.

He believes "the fact that we have Slovenia by our side, is a strong guarantee that we as a country and the entire Western Balkan region will develop in the right direction, one that will bring peace, stability, progress and prosperity to our people".

Židan also noted Slovenia's support for Macedonia's membership of the EU, saying it was the EU's duty to set the date of the accession talks in June, in what would be an additional boost to stabilisation of the Western Balkans.

Židan also noted the traditionally good relationship between Slovenia and Macedonia and the growing volume of merchandise trade, which is nearing EUR 300m a year, but he also pointed to the still untapped potential.

He understands Xhaferi's two-day visit as a further encouragement to step up political and business ties. He also noted that 800 Macedonian students studying in Slovenia at the moment under the same terms as their Slovenian counterparts.

Xhaferi was glad to be "among declared friends who support our Euro-Atlantic aspirations without reserve". He and Židan agreed that regional initiatives such as the Brdo-Brijuni process or the process of cooperation in SE Europe were good models to overcome hatred stemming from the past and a god basis for regional cooperation.

The Macedonian speaker was received by President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar today, and met a joint delegation of the parliamentary committees for foreign policy and EU affairs and the group of friendship with Macedonia.

Cerar emphasised that Slovenia was a great supporter of Macedonia's EU and NATO aspirations. "We welcome the steps towards full membership in NATO," he wrote on Twitter.

Cerar congratulated Xhaferi on the authorities in Skopje taking responsibility and being proactive regarding the name dispute with Greece, labelling the signing of the Prespa Agreement and its implementation a historic decision.

"The next step on the Euro-Atlantic path is expected already in June, when Slovenia will be striving for and expect from the EU to launch EU membership negotiations with Macedonia," Cerar was quoted by the Foreign Ministry.

Xhaferi thanked Slovenia for its support and assistance so far and described the reform process in Macedonia.

Pahor labelled Xhaferi's visit as special, especially within the context of the ratification of the agreement between Greece and Macedonia, which along with constitutional changes is an important signal for the EU accession prospects of the region.

Pahor congratulated Macedonia and Greece for the courage in the resolving of the name dispute, adding that Slovenia had made its contribution as part of the Brdo-Brijuni initiative and the EU, the president's office said.

The president also congratulated Xhaferi on the signing of the ratification of the Accession Protocol, which he labelled as an important factor of safety, stability and well-being of the entire region and wider.

11 Feb 2019, 14:30 PM

STA, 11 February 2019 - Senior Slovenian officials have expressed criticism at what they described as attempts at revisionism by the Italian leadership in speeches marking the day of remembrance for the foibe victims.

 What were the “foibe massacres”? Learn more on Wikipedia

"This was unparalleled revisionism. Fascism was a fact and its goal was to destroy the Slovenian nation," Prime Minister Marjan Šarec wrote on Twitter on Monday about comments by "visible politicians, even EU officials".

The comment refers to speeches made by EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at a ceremony in Basovizza on Sunday commemorating ethnic Italians killed by Yugoslav Partisans after WWII, when thousands of Italians fled what had just become Yugoslavia and thousands more were killed.

Tajani spoke about "thousands of innocent victims killed for being Italian", saying that the "victims of war and anti-Italian hatred were killed by soldiers wearing the red star just because they did not lower the Italian flag."

He finished his speech by saying "Long live Trieste, long live the Italian Istria, long live the Italian Dalmatia."

Salvini, echoing Tajani's comments, equated foibe victims with those killed in Auschwitz and said the killers of both were criminals.

Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan also issued a condemnation of Tajani's speech, saying that "everyone who wants to strengthen neighbourly relations and coexistence of EU nations must refrain from statements that upset the public."

"I therefore urge officials not to conduct historical revisionism," he wrote on Twitter, adding that both sides should stick to the findings of a bilateral commission of historians.

Following years of deliberations, the commission in 2000 released a report saying that the killings of Italians, who were often cast into karst chasms known in Italian as foibe, had been revenge against the Fascist and Nazi violence, and efforts to get rid of actual, potential or just alleged enemies of the communist regime.

Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said he would address a letter to Tajani over his "inadmissible statements". "I'm going to warn him that such rhetoric is utterly unacceptable in Europe in 2019 and runs contrary to the values that the EU is striving for."

"We condemn such falsification of our common European and Slovenian history. What Tajani said was particularly unacceptable and unheard of. Such statements instil fear," Cerar told reporters at a press event convened specially for this occasion.

The Foreign Ministry separately condemned "attempts at unilateral and selective interpretation of historical events in the border area," noting that revisionism ran contrary to the "fundamental principles of the European system."

Neither the ministry nor Cerar himself indicated whether any other type of action might be taken, but Matjaž Nemec, the chair of the Foreign Policy Committee, said his Social Democrats (SD) would initiate a debate at the European Parliament. He also suggested the Italian ambassador should be summoned.

Several other Slovenian MPs and MEPs, in particular those from leftist parties, issued similar condemnations, but there were also dissenting voices.

Democrat (SDS) president Janez Janša, the leader of the largest opposition party, said Šarec was the one engaging in revisionism, naming the development "a clear example of one extreme feeding the other".

"Fascism was a fact and its cruel crimes disclosed. The Italians hung Mussolini themselves. SLO communists, on the other hand, killed more Slovenians in a few months than the Fascists killed in 20 years," Janša wrote on Twitter.

11 Feb 2019, 10:20 AM

STA, 10 February 2019 - Talat Xhaferi , the speaker of the Macedonian parliament, will start a two-day visit to Slovenia on Monday that will culminate in him addressing the Slovenian National Assembly when MPs ratify the protocol on North Macedonia's accession to NATO.

 

The vote on Tuesday will make Slovenia the second country after Greece to endorse Macedonia's accession to NATO under its new name, North Macedonia, following the resolution of the long name dispute with Greece that has obstructed its EU and NATO aspirations.

On Monday, when the accession protocol will be debated by the Foreign Policy Committee, Xhaferi will be received by his counterpart Dejan Židan, President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar.

He is also scheduled to meet a joint delegation of the parliamentary foreign policy, EU affairs and defence committees, and the group of Slovenian-Macedonian friendship.

On Tuesday, when the accession protocol will be put to the plenary at a session convened specifically for this purpose, Xhaferi will also hold talks with deputy group leaders.

The ratification is not questionable since Slovenia has been among the most vocal advocates of Macedonia's accession to the EU and NATO; this year and next its embassy in Skopje also doubles as the NATO contact embassy for the country.

The government endorsed the NATO accession protocol just a day after NATO ambassadors signed it in Brussels, kick-starting the ratification process in the NATO member states. The formalities are expected to take about a year.

The first country to ratify the protocol was Greece, which had for years hampered any progress towards NATO or EU accession due to a dispute over the country's name that was resolved with the Prespa Agreement in June 2018.

Xhaferi's talks with Slovenian officials will focus on these latest developments, but strengthening of bilateral political and economic cooperation will also be on the agenda.

The current situation in Western Balkans, relations with neighbouring countries, the global security situation, and migrations will be discussed as well, the National Assembly has said.

As former Yugoslav republics that secured independence, Macedonia and Slovenia have long had deep and friendly relations that extend beyond political ties.

And although trade is modest, at roughly EUR 300m, Slovenian companies are among the principal investors in Macedonia.

With NATO accession all but secured, the focus is now likely to shift on Macedonia's EU aspirations, which Slovenia has been a supporter of.

Slovenia has advocated the position that member states should endorse the start of EU membership talks with Macedonia, which has been a candidate country since 2005, a decision it expects to be taken before the summer.

It has long argued that despite its internal problems, the EU may not ignore Macedonia or Western Balkans in general, since many painful issues in the region remain unresolved and may erupt in conflict it left to fester.

Xhaferi visit will cap a lively political exchange in recent years that has included visits to Macedonia by Miro Cerar, first as prime minister in April 2018 and and then as foreign minister in October.

Speaker Dejan Židan was in Skopje in September, just before the referendum on the name deal, and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec paid an official visit in January.

07 Feb 2019, 14:17 PM

STA, 7 February 2018 - The Administrative Court has turned down an appeal by Boris Popovič, the former mayor of Koper, who challenged his narrow loss against Aleš Bržan in the last local election. The court found some violations in the election but said Popovič had failed to submit sufficient evidence that they affected the outcome of the election.

 

"We will study the ruling in detail and then take any further decisions," Popovič's lawyer Franci Matoz told the STA today.

The court made the decision without the main hearing, although Popovič had proposed it.

The 28-page decision is based on evidence which had already been presented to the municipal election commission and the municipal council, the court said, adding that no "new facts or evidence" had been submitted in the appeal.

Popovič, who narrowly lost the mayoral race, lodged the appeal with the Administrative Court on 10 January to challenge the results of the 2 December run-off that he lost by just 17 votes out of almost 28,000 cast.

Formally, the appeal referred to the decision of the Koper city council that verified the result of what was arguably the biggest surprise of the local elections on 21 December last year.

In his appeal, Popovič alleged violations of the election blackout, irregularities in mail-in voting, and claimed that the municipal electoral commission had overstepped its powers. He demanded a recount.

The court cleared the electoral commission's decision regarding invalid ballots and added that a recount was not envisaged by law. It also found no irregularities in mail-in voting.

However, it agreed that a constitutional right of one voter had been violated - a disabled person who cast their ballot in the early voting - but said this did not affect the outcome of the election.

The court's decision is final. Popovič could still turn to the Constitutional Court but the former mayor told reporters on Wednesday he would respect the court's decision.

The new mayor, Bržan, told the press today he had expected such a decision and was looking forward to being able to finally start working without distractions.

"The team that had been on standby so far is ready, the municipal budget is also largely ready and it's time for us to start implementing our programme," Bržan said.

07 Feb 2019, 10:20 AM

STA, 6 February 2019 - As the government is about to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of several other EU countries by recognising Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president, the coalition are divided on the issue with the Social Democrats (SD) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) arguing parliament should be consulted first.

Before taking any unilateral action which would mean assuming responsibility under international law, the government should discuss it with parliament, Milan Brglez, an MP for the SD and former speaker of parliament, told reporters on Wednesday.

He believes that Slovenian legislation is clear and that the National Assembly needs to take a decision on the matter, while he said that it would be very unpleasant if it had to discuss the matter subsequently.

He expressed concern about the hardship of the people of Venezuela, including Slovenians living there, who he said should be taken care of by the Foreign Ministry as a matter of priority.

Considering Venezuela's constitutional categories, a president's self-declaration could not have happened. "If this held true in Catalonia and Spain, I don't know why it wouldn't in such a case," said Brglez.

If in Catalonia's case "the constitutional constraints were those which wouldn't warrant direct application of international law over self-determination, I cannot see why it would be different this time around and why we would apply double standards in our foreign policy".

DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec, the former foreign minister now serving as defence minister, told the STA that the situation was a highly delicate one.

He believes that Foreign Minister Miro Cerar's proposal for Slovenia to recognise Guaido as interim president should be debated by the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee before the government took its decision.

Like Brglez, he warned that such decisions by the international community could have grave consequences for Venezuela and there was a serious risk of a civil war.

Erjavec believes that the solution for Venezuela is to hold an early democratic election. Whether Guiado's recognition could lead to such an election is in his view a very complicated question, but he said that it increased the danger of internal unrest.

Erjavec also noted that there was a very thin line as to whether recognising the interim president was interference in Venezuela's internal affairs. He believes that international organisations should exert pressure in order to have the country hold an early election.

Asked about whether the decision on recognising Guaido should be taken by the government or parliament, the Modern Centre Party (SMC) of Foreign Minister Cerar noted that in 2011 the government recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of Libya's people and in 2013 the government recognised the Syrian national coalition in the same way.

"We trust that the government will dedicate due attention to the matter and justify its decision. The important thing is that Slovenia stands by a position that is clear and right: that a free and democratic election should be held as soon as possible," the party stated on its website.

The LMŠ party of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec would not comment on the matter officially but unofficial information indicates that there is coordinated communication on the issue between the Foreign Ministry and Šarec's office.

The Foreign Ministry will brief the government on the situation in Venezuela on Thursday and the LMŠ will take steps based on the discussion.

The Left, the minority government's partner in the opposition, is strongly opposed to recognising Guaido with the party's MP Miha Kordiš saying the question of recognition "is the question of whether we'll break international law" and indicating it could impact on the Left's cooperation with the government.

"Guaido is a self-styled American appointee; as Slovenia we certainly cannot benevolently recognise someone who declared himself as one," Kordiš said, adding that Emmanuel Macron's presidency in France could be called into question because of the gilets jaunes.

The opposition Democratic Party (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) support recognising Guaido with NSi MP Jernej Vrtovec commenting that the recognition must lead to a democratic process starting with a writ of a snap presidential election.

He believes that the government can take the decision on the matter itself but that the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee should also discuss the issue.

SDS MP Žan Mahnič said the party favoured an earliest possible recognition of Guaido as an interim president and a snap election. He said it was up to the government whether the issue would be discussed by the Foreign Policy Committee but he did deem every discussion on the issue useful.

05 Feb 2019, 11:50 AM

STA, 4 February 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar announced on Monday he would propose to the government that Slovenia recognise the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, Juan Guaido, as Venezuela's interim president with the intention of Guaido calling an early presidential election. The government is to decide on the proposal on Thursday at the latest.

Cerar made the announcement after a closed-door session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, which was to be briefed on Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia over the border arbitration situation at the EU's Court of Justice.

Cerar spoke of a dramatic situation in Venezuela, which is experiencing a serious economic, social and humanitarian crisis. Three million people have emigrated in the last five years and human rights are not respected, he told the press.

He said that the recognition of Guaido would be "exclusively for the purpose of ... calling a new, fair, free and democratic election", and added that the final decision remained to be made by the Marjan Šarec-led cabinet.

"It's a fact that Mr. Maduro did not win in such an election. He won in an undemocratic election, meaning unfair, not free and lacking transparency," Cerar said.

Thus Slovenia needs to join the EU in helping in humanitarian efforts as well as, if necessary, step up sanctions against the current power holder.

"Above all, Slovenia needs to react in the right way. This means recognising the power holder that can and wants to call new elections as soon as possible, so that people can be helped, so that the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights are restored."

He argued this would help restore peace and stability and help make sure that "people will not be without medicine and food, that they will not flee or fear state violence".

Cerar added that while the EU was united in the points listed, it is not the domain of the EU as a whole, "or this has not been the usual practice so far", to recognise power holders in individual countries". "This is now being left to individual countries to decide," he said.

TWEET

Meanwhile, the press was also addressed by Foreign Policy Committee chair Matjaž Nemec, who said that he in a way identified with Cerar, but that at the same time he saw himself confronted with a number of questions.

"Remembering how democracy was used as a pretence to approach the situation in Ukraine or the Arab Spring ... or the situation in Syria, I fear and warn that this could mean a new hot spot in South America. There are major interests involved," Nemec said.

While agreeing that the current leadership in Venezuela is incapable of governing, Nemec fears what the alternative could bring.

Several European countries recognised Guaido, the parliamentary speaker, as interim president today after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rejected the ultimatum to call an election by Sunday. Spain, Great Britain, France, Austria and Germany were among the first to do so.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="sl" dir="ltr">.<a href="https://twitter.com/vladaRS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@vladaRS</a> bom predlagal, da <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Slovenija?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Slovenija</a> prizna predsednika Nacionalne skupščine <a href="https://twitter.com/jguaido?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jguaido</a> za začasnega predsednika Venezuele, z namenom izvedbe svobodnih, poštenih in demokratičnih predsedniških volitev. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Venezuela?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Venezuela</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MZZRS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MZZRS</a> <a href="https://t.co/Q9DdsCMjD0">pic.twitter.com/Q9DdsCMjD0</a></p>&mdash; dr. Miro Cerar (@MiroCerar) <a href="https://twitter.com/MiroCerar/status/1092477936177954818?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 4, 2019</a></blockquote>

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