The covers and editorials from weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, November 02, 2018.
STA - The left-leaning weekly Mladina compares the stances of Slovenia and Iceland towards NATO in its latest editorial, commenting that while Slovenia is servile and wants to cosy up to the alliance by buying armament, Iceland is sovereign and does not pretend it could have a serious army.
Iceland is a founding member of NATO, it has been in the alliance since 1949, but it does not have a standing army. Instead it has a coastal guard with several aircraft and ships.
"This is the country's reach. It does not buy weapons, it simply gives money and staff to NATO. Not only because it is a pacifist country, but because it is rational: small armies have no real military power in relation to the power of all serious armies," editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says on Friday.
Turning to Slovenia, Repovž argues that the violent weather this week again demonstrated that Slovenia would do better to suitably equip its civil protection.
It should buy helicopters rather than "make the biggest armament purchase in the history of Slovenia" and buy new tanks, whose only function will be to cosy up to NATO and US President Donald Trump, and to collect dust.
Does anything happen to Iceland, which refuses to buy weapons, Repovž wonders. No, the country acts autonomously. "It does not whine about being too small to stand up to such a big organisation. And there are only 330,000 [Icelanders]."
"The sovereignty of a country does not depend on the number of ageing tanks in the barracks and the speed of its nodding, but on its stance," Repovž concludes under Not State, Stance.
STA - After the rejection of an ECHR ruling by the Slovenian Supreme Court, the right-leaning weekly Reporter says in its latest commentary that the judiciary is a "cancerous tissue" in the Slovenian society.
Under the headline Junta from the Supreme Court, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla says that whoever had to deal with Slovenian courts could witness how dysfunctional the third branch of power in the country is.
Not only lengthy proceedings are the problem. The problem is in judges themselves (not all of them), who perform their job poorly and with bias and don't even care a straw about the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
"In the safe haven of life tenure, some of them are obviously allowed to do everything they please. Almost no judge is held accountable for unjust rulings, which eventually get annulled at higher instances," Šurla adds.
He notes that "something unheard-of" happened last week, as the Supreme Court said that it would simply not honour the ruling of the ECHR in the case Pro Plus against Slovenia, as it had not been convinced by its arguments.
Reporter notes that a group of respectable law experts, both liberal and conservative, had labelled such an act as completely arbitrary and contravening the fundamental values of the European constitutional space and the Slovenian Constitution.
They added that it was also jeopardising the regional system of the protection of human rights following the model of authoritarian countries such as Turkey and Russia.
"How could ordinary citizens be expected to respect the decisions of courts if the Supreme Court does not?! This is a world upside down," concludes the commentary.
STA, 30 October 2018 - The new Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec has told the STA Slovenia would not be able to handle and will resist the envisaged 15% cut in the EU rural development funding. The list of her plans meanwhile includes less red tape for farmers, increasing self-sufficiency and more focus on organic farming.
Pivec hopes the cut in rural development funding as part of the EU common agricultural policy for 2021-2027 will end up being less than 10%.
"We absolutely cannot accept the envisaged cut, since it would substantially affect our ability to reach goals," she said.
The minister indicated that Slovenia would find it easier to stomach a greater cut in the direct payment pillar of CAP, where funding would be slashed by 4% in line with the original proposal.
She meanwhile noted that the new financial perspective would leave more room for initiative to member states and she for instance sees this as an opportunity to reduce the administrative burdens for farmers.
"This presents a big problem on the ground. Farmers have a hard time getting to the funds, certain segments are so complicated as to discourage them from applying and the controls are also very demanding," the agriculture, food and forestry minister said.
"Simplifications are being drawn up, the first measures are already being implemented and some results should be felt on the ground as early as December."
The key rural development goals listed by the minister meanwhile also include the preservation of farms, the reduction of risks related to climate change, and addressing demographic and educational issues at farms.
"A dual approach is needed: the young need to be provided with funds to take over the farms, while older farmers also need decent social security to be able to pass on the farms to the young," said Pivec, mentioning the need to fix what are objectively low pensions for farmers.
She feels that the European Social Fund offers a good opportunity to address these issues and to mitigate the effects of the CAP cuts.
Meanwhile, Pivec feels that raising self-sufficiency and responding to climate change will also require technological upgrades at farms, as well as a change in the choice of crops.
"These changes will be painful for some. We have a very tradition-oriented agriculture and to a certain degree it should stay this way, since this is an important aspect in terms of the preservation of the environment, the cultural landscape," she said, but added that there would be no way around certain changes.
Pivec feels that climate change is also one of the reasons for the low self-sufficiency rates for fruits and vegetables, at 21% and 39% respectively last year, with the risks involved being much higher than in livestock farming.
While better protective measures and irrigations systems will be necessary, the minister also sees major opportunities for organic farming.
She pointed out that 85% of Slovenian farms were located in what was termed as less-favoured areas and organic farming could be a solution.
Of the roughly 70,000 farms in the country, 3,635 are presently organic, covering 46,000 hectares. The goal is 5,000 on 50,000 hectares, she said.
Organic farming would also help tackle the low buy-back prices for food products, an issue across the EU, while Pivec also sees a solution in producers working together more closely and thus also achieving more in price negotiations.
STA, 23 October 2018 - Slovenia recorded the sharpest decrease in general government debt in the EU in the second quarter of the year, show the latest figures released by Eurostat.
STA, 22 October 2018 - A small municipality at the foot of the Karavanke mountain range is in for an interesting election race, as two mayoral candidates are ex-prisoners. Pavel Rupar will try to get back to Town Hall after more than a decade, while Duško Krupljanin is on trial for having attacked a police officer.
STA, 22 October 2018 - Večer's first public opinion poll ahead of the 18 November local election shows Franc Kangler, the mayor who was forced to step down amid mass protests in 2012, emerging as the top candidate, while his closest rival is a businessman who entered the race at the eleventh hour, Saša Arsenovič. The incumbent is far behind.
STA, 20 October 2018 - Addressing a ceremony commemorating fallen WWII resistance members in Žužemberk on Saturday, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec stressed the importance of the movement for "our freedom" while also regretting the "events after the war that our nation cannot be proud of."
STA, 19 October 2018 - The opposition Democrats (SDS), the relative winner of the June general election, had invested the biggest amount of funds in the election campaign of all parties, while the party of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec had used the invested funds in the most effective way compared to the proportion of the vote it won.
STA, 18 October 2018 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec met French President Emmanuel Macron for about half-an-hour long bilateral meeting in Brussels on Thursday which focused on cooperation at the EU level and the fight against populism.