Politics

19 May 2019, 10:33 AM

Mladina: Slovenia has short-sighted migration policy

STA, 17 May 2019 - Commenting on the migration situation, the weekly Mladina says in Friday's editorial that the government of Marjan Šarec is continuing the short-sighted policy of the previous government of Miro Cerar by increasing the number of police officers and soldiers on the border, setting up more fence an preventing asylum requests.

"However, it does not have the courage to set up reception centres and face the migration flow, process these people and determine who meets the conditions [to stay in the country] and who does not, help them integrate or return them to their countries if they are not danger zones - in short, what this country was actually doing before the 2015 refugee wave," says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.

The number of crossings of the border and asylum requests has not risen so much. "We have seen all this before and dealt with it for decades - but now we have closed the borders and thus turned refugees into illegal migrants and pushed them to city streets, outskirts of villages and forests."

We have no idea how many of them are moving illegally across the country or waiting for transport out of the country in Ljubljana, Repovž says.

We also have no idea how many people are illegally transporting refugees or provide them with shelters in exchange for money, or how many supply them with food. That is the reality, according to Repovž.

As soon as a country starts breaking the law, it has a hard time demanding from others to respect international law.

"And that is what is our biggest mistake. We know that refugees in Croatia have no rights. That they are being illegally transported to Bosnia-Herzegovina. By copying these patterns, we are losing the opportunity to demand the respect of European asylum rules from our neighbour," Repovž says under the headline More Fences, More Soldiers, More Cops.

Demokracija: Critical of govt's inaction after abduction

STA, 16 May 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija is critical of the government after an elderly man was abducted by a group of illegal migrants who stole his car to reach the border with Italy.

"Pro-migrant activists and the agitprop of mainstream media launched a theory that Moravec was not abducted, that the abduction had been staged for the purpose of EU election campaign."

It is horrifying how far some politicians, pro-migrant mouthpieces and agitprop Bolsheviks have gone.

Instead of condemning the abduction and promising to do anything in their power to prevent something like this from happening again, the left has decided to criminalise the victims.

What is more, they labelled the protest in which locals expressed their concern a rally of intolerance and hate speech. It is incomprehensible that people even have to take to the streets for the government to start following the rules.

"We need to make it clear: It's been enough! If the government fails to guarantee security and respect for its own laws, the people have the right to protect their property and lives themselves!" the weekly says under the headline Hostage and Soros's Devil's Advocates.

18 May 2019, 10:30 AM

STA, 17 May 2019 - With just over a week to go until voting day in EU elections, migrations and security have become firmly established as the main campaign topics. While there are still several major TV debates on the agenda, the outlines of the likely results are already clear, according to analysts.

Migrations are undoubtedly the no. 1 topic, trailed by climate change and Brexit. People are also interested in the benefits of the EU, but issues such as trade agreements and personal data protection are not prominent, Igor Kršinar, a journalist for the conservative weekly Reporter, told the STA.

Andraž Zorko, an analyst with the pollster Valicon, said he was surprised issues that had been prominent in the past year - trade agreements, digital services, attitude to multinationals - had not gained traction despite being "issues that are resolved at the European level."

Regardless of the issues that are prominent in the campaign, Zorko thinks that "the cards have already been dealt" barring any major surprises in the final week of debates.

He said the Democrats (SDS) already had two seats secured, with New Slovenia (NSi) and Social Democrat (SD) front-runners, Ljudmila Novak and Tanja Fajon, shoo-ins as well, and Angelika Mlinar of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) is likely to succeed too.

"From here on it is much less certain. I personally think the Left is most likely to win a seat. Although, two or three weeks ago I was certain about that, now I'm less so. There have been quite a few mistakes, Violeta Tomić in particular has not performed very well, in particular on the international scene," according to Zorko.

As for the remainder of Slovenia's eight seats, Zorko says the NSi could conceivably win one more, with either MEP Lojze Peterle or Žiga Turk having the potential to secure enough preferential votes.

The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Modern Centre Party (SMC) are likely to fight it out for the last remaining seat, according to him.

Kršinar meanwhile thinks the joint slate of the SDS and People's Party (SLS) might clinch three seats, with either of the two SLS candidates, MEP Franc Bogovič or former Maribor mayor Franc Kangler, the likeliest to win enough preferential votes.

On the left side of the spectrum, Kršinar is not convinced that Tomić would be the one to be elected if the Left gets enough votes. He thinks the party leader, Luka Mesec, is more likely to receive sufficient support.

But it is also entirely possible that instead of opting for the "radical left," voters support other players, for example DeSUS's Igor Šoltes, Kršinar said.

All our stories on the EU elections are here

16 May 2019, 16:27 PM

STA, 15 May 2019 - The US army has decided to curtail ongoing military activities in Slovenia due to restrictions imposed at the Poček grounds near Postojna, the US Embassy in Ljubljana has said.

"US Forces are awaiting concrete rules and guidelines, to be outlined by the Ministry of Defence in consultation with local municipalities, so that they can forecast, plan, and conduct future training within those rules and guidelines," the embassy told the STA on Wednesday.

The statement comes after TV Slovenija reported Monday that the US military had been considering no longer participating in joint exercises in Slovenia in the current scope because at Poček, night-time activities are limited due to protests by the local community.

Defence Minister Karl Erjavec however said after a meeting with Gautam Rana, the chargé d'affaires at the US Embassy, there was no reason for concern since the planned exercises would be carried out as agreed.

The embassy said today the US forces appreciated the opportunity to train jointly with the Slovenian Armed Forces in an area with well-established range facilities like those in Poček.

"We respect the importance of ongoing discussions with the local community, as the intent of US Forces is always to train with allies like Slovenia in a way that is neither disruptive to the environment, nor the local community."

But executing the training schedule demands "assured, predictable access to the facilities where troops can exercise specific capabilities essential to operational readiness, to include night live-fire."

"New guidelines established by the Ministry of Defence preclude the ability to fully replicate a realistic combat environment for training purposes in Slovenia, meaning US readiness requirements cannot be met."

The embassy also stressed that the bilateral relationship "remains strong, and we enjoy extensive cooperation from the working to most senior levels on a wide variety of issues of mutual interest."

It noted US Army Europe Commander Lieutenant-General Christopher Cavoli visited Slovenia this week for meetings with senior leaders on defence issues, with a large US delegation expected at the Three Seas Initiative Summit in Ljubljana in June.

16 May 2019, 16:19 PM

STA, 15 May 2019 - The 8th Africa Day conference, focussing on the relations between Africa and Europe, and economic and investment opportunities in Africa, started in Ljubljana on Wednesday with calls for creating jobs for the young in Africa.

 

Although Africa's economy is expanding, the unemployment is high, especially among the young. Most participants in today's panels on economic transformation, inclusion and jobs, and on the role of the European-African partnership therefore called for the creation of jobs that enable decent living, for quality and accessible education and a good health system.

Addressing the opening, Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said dialogue and cooperation should increase both between Europe and Africa, and Slovenia and Africa.

Cerar also pointed to today's signing of a memorandum on economic cooperation between Slovenia and Ghana.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has also drawn up a five-year plan for cooperation between Slovenia and the Sub-Saharan Africa based on the existing framework, which Slovenia has been actively implementing, he said.

Cape Verde Foreign Minister Luis Filipe Lopes Tavares said Africa was not some distant world for Europe but its neighbouring continent. Sylvie Baipo-Temon, the foreign minister of Central African Republic, said Africa was a continent of the future, and that both Africa and the EU, including Slovenia, should take advantage of that.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Ghana Mohammad Habibu Tijani called for the development of strategic partnership between Africa and Europe, and the enhancing of cooperation between Slovenia and African countries.

Slovenian Education Ministry State Secretary Martina Vuk stressed the importance of education, saying it was the capital of the future. She called for lifelong learning and nurturing of social skills.

Marius Mensah of the Maribor Faculty of Law, who comes from Benin, said solutions needed to be found for the young African labour force.

Madelein Mkunu, the co-founder and president of non-profit forum Leading Women of Africa, said only equal partnership between Europe and Africa could bring stability and prosperity to Africa.

The representative of the European Commission at the conference, Antii Pekka Karhunen, asserted that the Commission wanted to contribute to Africa's development and supported the different forms of equal partnership between the two continents.

He noted that under the EU External Investment Plan, EUR 4.5 billion would be available to Africa and Europe's neighbouring countries until 2020. The EU wants to promote sustainable development in various areas, finance micro, small and medium-sized companies, and invest in education, he said.

Several bilateral meetings were held on the margins of the conference.

Minister Cerar held talks with his Central African Republic counterpart Sylvie Baipo-Temon, in what was the first ministerial visit since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 2017.

The focus was on opportunities for bilateral cooperation, in particular in agriculture, water management, the food industry, pharmaceuticals, telemedicine and IT, the Foreign Ministry said.

Economic cooperation was also in focus of talks between Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dobran Božič and Ghanaian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Habibu Tijani.

The pair pinpointed agriculture, car industry, and food technology as the principal areas of interest, with Tijani also highlighting Ghana's desire to attract investments in industrialisation to generate higher value added.

Božič and Tijani also signed an intergovernmental agreement on economic cooperation on the occasion, the ministry said.

The annual conference is hosted by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the African programme of the British Chatham House and the European Commission. It is held ahead of 25 May, the anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the African Union.

16 May 2019, 15:20 PM

May 16, 2019

In a recent survey evaluating the work of each of the 28 European Commissioners, Margrethe Vestager of Denmark ranks highest, while Hungarian Tibor Navrascis the lowest. Slovenian commissioner Violeta Bulc ended near the bottom at 21st place, reports POP TV today.

best and worst.jpg

Source: CBW report

In her five-year mandate the highest ranking European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager put the pressure on many multinational companies who have until then managed to avoid paying taxes in the EU. As a result, the two tech giants Google and Apple were hit with a combined bill for nearly 20 billion in fines, notes BCW Communications Agency, which carried out the survey.

The most successful move of the European Commissioner for Transportation, Violeta Bulc, is seen in her attempt to raise the tolls paid by drivers of high polluting vehicles, while her greatest failure is identified as her attempt to end the seasonal changing of the clocks in Europe (although this attempt has not yet been defeated, simply not agreed on).

However, Bulc enjoys very high popular support in her home country. According to Mediana polling agency, she’s been placed between 2nd and 4th on a list of Slovenian politicians throughout her term as Commissioner.

16 May 2019, 11:30 AM

STA, 16 May 2019 - Most parties and lists running in the European Parliament election except for the more radical players do not see Brexit as a positive development. They however point to different reasons for the British leaving the EU.

The coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) told the STA Brexit was a negative decision for all and that the EU and UK would continue to cooperate closely in the medium run, at least in the most important fields of common interest.

The Social Democrats (SD) said that there was still a possibility that there will be no Brexit, and that if it happened, it was in everybody's interest that the procedure be carried out responsibly.

It added that exits from the EU and extremes could not be predicted, while being an obvious consequence of irresponsibility of populists and the danger they pose to Europe.

While no one knows what will happen with the UK, the EU needs to strengthen ties between the countries which are aware of the benefits of membership, while at the same time effectively responding to pressing issues, said the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).

The coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) believes that Brexit is a warning for everybody that elections are important. Many people in the UK, especially the young, would like to go back in time and cast their votes in the Brexit referendum.

The ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) warned that the consequences of Brexit on the flow of goods, services, capital and workforce will be felt both by citizens and companies.

The prime minister's party is convinced that Brexit will be a lesson for the entire EU and that no other member state will decide to leave the bloc.

The minority coalition's partner in the opposition, the Left, argues that the UK has been taken away from the EU by right-wing populism. This is a signal for EU citizens that they are not able to decide on the fate of their own countries.

According to the party, this blow to democracy has triggered a wave of Euroscepticism which will not subside until the EU becomes democratic.

The opposition Democrats (SDS) and non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS), which are fielding a joint list, believe that the consequences of Brexit will depend on its final form and the duration of the transitional period.

The parties think that no other EU member state would decide to exit the bloc at the moment, as trust in the EU is at the highest level since 1983.

The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) said that the British have "jumped into an empty swimming pool" and that it did not believe a full Brexit will take place.

If the political elite is not able to decide, they should let the people decide one more time, as they are now acquainted with the consequences, the party added.

The far-right National Party (SNS) believes that Brexit has failed to strengthen the unity of the EU, but has shown that the EU does not know what it wants and that it is not able to solve this issue.

"Brussels is buying time and making London make decisions, while London is waiting for the EU to make a move," said the SNS, which sees some other member state leaving as a possibility and suggests Slovenia should think about this option.

Slovenia leaving the EU is also being proposed by the non-parliamentary United Slovenia (ZSi), which argues that Brexit is a nice example of how interests of corporations outweigh referendum decisions of the people.

Brexit has been blocked so that the will expressed by the British does not become an example for other countries, the party said, calling for "Sloexit" due to violations of fundamental human rights in the EU.

The Homeland League (DOM) believes that Brexit is a "symptom of the EU's illness". Leaving the EU is the country representing 20% of GDP of the EU, the strongest member military-wise and the oldest democracy, the party noted.

Good State (DD) argues that Europeans have obviously forgotten that the EU is a guarantor of political stability.

The Let's Connect list believes that Brexit is a "national and European disaster and a consequence of the decades of demagoguery of the British governments, which have blamed Brussels for their own incompetence".

The Greens think that Brexit will have a negative impact both on the EU and the UK and hope for a second referendum, which would save the younger generation in the UK which strongly opposes Brexit.

14 May 2019, 12:44 PM

STA, 13 May 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar proposed in Brussels on Monday to his Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi joint police patrols on the border with Italy to prevent illegal migration. He said he thus wanted to show to Italy that Slovenia wanted to strengthen mutual trust.

Border controls within the Schengen zone are unacceptable for Slovenia, because they go against the European ideas of connectivity and freedom, so Slovenia thinks the issues of security and migration should be tackled together. Thus, border checks on the internal Schengen borders will not be necessary, the minister said.

According to him, the Italian foreign minister welcomed the initiative, which will now be presented to both countries' interior ministers, while police commissioners of both countries are expected to discuss it in a few days.

Cerar would like the joint police patrols to be set up as soon as possible, so as to send a clear signal to the "criminals who encourage the illegal migration".

The EU and its member states must strive to export stability and security or else they risk importing instability, Cerar said, noting that crucial factors were efficient control of the EU's external borders, cooperation and offering support to the countries where migrants are coming from.

Asked why Slovenia and Croatia did not set up joint police patrols, Cerar said that the Slovenian police had been cooperating with the Croatian authorities very well and that so far there had been no need for such a move.

Preventing illegal crossings of the border has become crucial, Cerar said, pointing to a recent abduction of a local in Bela Krajina by a group of migrants.

13 May 2019, 09:49 AM

STA, 12 May 2019 - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec has announced that the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) have deployed additional soldiers to the border with Croatia to help the police manage the increasing number of illegal crossings of the border.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of a Victory Day ceremony in Topolšica on Saturday, Erjavec said that the help had been requested by the police, adding that the SAF had more units ready to be deployed at any moment.

According to the SAF, an additional 35 soldiers were deployed on Saturday to the southern border, and the current number of soldiers in the daily shift is 66.

The additional 35 soldiers have been deployed to the area covered by the Ilirska Bistrica police station (SW), while the remaining 31 serve in various locations, the army told the STA.

The police and armed forces have thus responded to the increasing number of illegal crossings of the border, as detected also by the locals living along the border.

The calls for better border control culminated after a 79-year-old local was abducted in his car on Wednesday by four illegal migrants.

Erjavec said on Saturday that he was in constant touch with Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar regarding the issue, while Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar and the army chief-of-staff, Maj-Gen Alenka Ermenc were coordinating the operative measures.

"I can say that we have units ready to boost the presence of the Slovenian army on the southern border at any moment, of course in mixed units with the police," the minister added.

Črnomelj protesters demand better control of border

STASTA, 11 May 2019 - Several hundred people gathered in the town of Črnomelj (SE) Saturday afternoon demanding better control of Slovenia's southern border. The rally was called after four illegal migrants abducted an elderly man earlier this week and used his car to drive to the border with Italy [more on that story here].

"Instead of ensuring our safety, those in charge have been telling us that Slovenia is safe and that there is no reason for fear," said Maja Kocjan, the president of the local civil initiative.

The protesters believe that the government and the police are not doing enough to protect the locals living along the border, with many signing a petition with five key demands. Unless they are taken seriously, another rally is to be organised in Ljubljana.

The petitioners demand that the government prevent illegal migrants from crossing the border, provide protection to people and property, and deploy additional police and military officers, if necessary. Calls like "Military to the border!" were heard a number of times during the protest.

The petition also demands changes to the asylum legislation so that people coming from safe countries could not request asylum in the country.

Moreover, the government must also stop procedures for the establishment of migrant registration centres, as protesters fear that these would become permanent migrant centres.

One such centre has been planned for the area of Ilirska Bistrica, a town further west along the southern border, where a civil initiative has been fighting against the centre for months.

Ilirska Bistrica Mayor Emil Rojc, a member of the centre-left Social Democrats (SD), also addressed the rally. Meanwhile, the Črnomelj Mayor Andrej Kavšek was not at the rally.

People have come to Črnomelj from all across the country and it was hard to tell how many of them were locals, according a report by to TV Slovenija.

A number of politicians also joined the protest, among them right-leaning candidates vying in the European Parliament election.

Also there was Janez Janša, the head of the opposition Democrats (SDS), accompanied by several senior members of the party, including MEP Milan Zver. Local initiative head Kocjan is also a member.

Janša told the press that the SDS had been trying to get the demands in the petition enacted for years. He said that they would "continue to pressure those in charge to start listening to the people".

He was critical that Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has not called a meeting of the National Security Council to improve border security, not even after the abduction.

Also at the rally was Marjan Podobnik, the president of the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS), which had joined forces with the SDS for the 26 May election.

Senior members of the non-parliamentary right-wing Homeland League (DOM) and United Slovenia were also in the crowd.

11 May 2019, 21:07 PM

May 11, 2019

The City Council of Piran finally adopted a budget for the year 2019 this Friday, following a series of unsuccessful sessions that at certain point included the Mayor's making passing of the plan conditional on him staying in office.

Mayor Đenio Zadković had a difficult week after the commercial TV station POP TV found out about his website and some letters he had sent two years ago to various world leaders, including Pope Francis, former General Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and then US presidential candidate Donald Trump. As Zadković, whose interests are philosophy and spirituality according to his autobiography, later explained, the letters were part of his art photography project.

In his 2016 letter to Donald Trump he proposes that his pictures be exhibited at Ground Zero in New York for the following reasons:

“When George W. Bush became president of the US I saw tragedy in his eyes. That was 9/11 and in that period the Idea of exposing my photopoems at GROUND ZERO started to rise. It may sound too ambitious, but that is the only place where I want to see them exposed. I'd like to find out if the initials of my name and surname have some kind of connection with those of the place where once the twins were; I want to know if Jung's synchronicity exists (now, not now or never?); and finally if the language of the unconscious still works in the name of love.”

To Ban Ki-moon, he proposed the solution for the “B zone”, the post WWII name for the coastal area that eventually became part of Slovenia and which during the related negotiations belonged to the so-called Territory of Trieste under direct responsibility of the UN Security Council:

“My plan is to establish a bank of United Nations in the Free Territory of Trieste/zone B in Koper and I would like you Mr. BAN KI-MOON after retiring from the presidency of the UN to undertake the presidency of the bank, the priority of which will be the introduction of a Universal Basic Income for everybody, starting with Africa and thus solving the problem of the current and likely future massive exodus. I trust you understand my plan and that there is no need to extrapolate into the future with further examples. Thank you for reading my letter and being sensitive to the problem of refugees (and I would like to add, the welfare of women).”

These letters, however, only came out after several of mayor’s unconventional Facebook posts that were directed at the more extreme of his GZOP party members caught the public’s attention. The Mayor laughed at the Pop TV report, thanking them for the free publicity and repeating his previous suggestion that Piran would make the best place for big international meetings. In translation:

“Ahahaha, POP TV, thank you for the advertisement. (…) Perhaps Putin and Trump will come to Piran after all. It is not too late yet.”

And

“Following this POP TV news I have a green light now to invite to the next philosophical duel our Slavoj Žižek, who is also from Portorož, and Jordan Peterson.”

And then several posts on the importance of understanding before criticizing, including:

“My world is pure, immaculate. My life is my pride. (…) I haven’t got a single enemy among those who know me. People who hate me are some of “my people” from the GZOP party because they didn’t get enough, hmmm. At the very beginning, when we started with the Portorož Movement forum, I wrote: "If we take our gold (victory) as our prey, then the collapse of the system will follow". And what you see is the collapse of the system, because of the hawks. What else should I tell you? The infamous letters you mentioned were written 3, 4, 5 years ago. I’ve been creating my photos for 10 years. Only a few can understand me through these photos, unfortunately. (…) I am here to make this municipality the most beautiful municipality in the world. How? Nicely, with your help, "the media", rather than with destroying of a mayor who you do not understand because you can’t, unfortunately.”

Although initially praised for its spontaneous democratic value, the Facebook group turned formal with the establishment of the Movement for the Municipality of Piran (GZOP) party, and has been struggling to remain united after gaining power. Five out of eight GZOP councillors voted against the budget proposed by Mayor this week, and when the proposal finally passed some of the members accused the mayor of “playing solo”.

The Mayor’s lack of political background, although considered a good thing by some as it appears to stand against corruption, seems to be causing serious operational problems due to lack of general political skills, including an understanding of administrative procedure and the use of proper channels and modes of communication.

The mayor concluded his string of Facebook posts with an explanation of the text accompanying a photo that POP TV used, in his view, inappropriately:

mayor photo.jpg

“Here I am delivering text, which will interpret my photograph named UP TO YOU, from which certain sentences that POP TV published were taken. The whole thing is written to improve understanding of the photo, which is full of symbolism, archetypes, archaic symbols and carries a strong message, which is so complex that without any explanation and knowing the symbols (the vocabulary of the unconscious) hardly anyone can understand it, while the photo I leave to your personal perception and, of course, imagination. I’ve always been saying, “If one person will understand what I think, I have won.” I am overjoyed that there are so many of you who understand. Thank you, dear Nejc [person who was commenting on Facebook], and thank you, who in these times and for many this unreasonable position, support me.”

Gibanje Portorož is a Facebook group that played a crucial role in last local elections in the Municipality of Piran. It  has a little over 5,000 members, some of whom express quite extremist views on the political process, and the Mayor has struggled to distance himself from these since running the office. The group was closed  several days ago.

For those who live and work in Piran, now that the budget has finally been passed perhaps the Mayor’s real work can begin.

11 May 2019, 10:02 AM

STA, 10 May 2019 - Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who was invited to Slovenia by former Slovenian President Milan Kučan and MEP Ivo Vajgl (Alde/DeSUS), said in Ljubljana on Friday that the aim of the Catalan independence movement was to strengthen democracy at the Catalan and EU level.

Puigdemont and two former Catalan councillors have chosen Ljubljana as one of the first destinations for their EU election campaign since according to them Slovenia is Catalonia's friend and serves as an inspiration, demonstrating that small countries and democratic values can thrive in Europe.

During a debate at the City Museum, Puigdemont pointed out that while some proponents of Catalonia's independence were imprisoned or exiled, the movement's aim was "to strengthen our democracy and ensure better service to our citizens".

"Without democracy, there'd be no future, without democracy, small countries, such as Slovenia, would be threatened by large ones," said the former president.

Among the main goals of the movement he listed peace, freedom, human rights, social progress and the fight against climate change.

According to him, the supporters of the Catalan independence will strive for these goals in the EU Parliament as well.

"We hope we will cooperate with other MEPs, including Slovenian ones, to advance efforts regarding democracy and self-determination," said Clara Ponsati, an MEP candidate and former Catalan Councillor of Education.

She pointed out that if Puigdemont was elected to the Parliament, the Catalans would have a voice in the centre of EU institutions, which would be a very important step forward for them, enabling them to express themselves and assigning the institutions the responsibility for Catalan democracy as well.

Puigdemont, Ponsati and former Catalan Councillor of Health Antoni Comin will be running for a seat in the EU Parliament on the joint slate Together for Europe, featuring several Catalan parties, including Puigdemont's Together for Catalonia.

The Spanish Electoral Commission had banned their candidacy, but the Madrid Administrative Court annulled this decision on Monday.

The former Catalan president commented on the results of the recent Spanish parliamentary election, won by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialist party (PSOE), saying that the party got fewer votes this time, same as one of the other central parties, the conservative People's Party.

Puigdemont thus believes that the Spanish political core is weaker, which poses a risk to the system's stability.

"I think now is the moment for a coalition government, otherwise the instability will continue and there will not be enough political power or majority to start seriously tackling the Catalan crisis," he said.

The only way to start resolving the crisis is to open up political dialogue, according to him.

Puigdemont was one of the main initiators of the Catalan independence referendum, held on 1 October 2017, with the Catalan regional parliament passing the resolution declaring independence that month as well.

The action was declared illegal by Spain, with the Spanish authorities deposing Puigdemont as well as his government and imposing a direct rule over Catalonia. The demoted president and a number of his former ministers fled for Belgium, facing rebellion charges.

Unlike twelve former Catalan leaders who stayed in Spain, Puigdemont is not being prosecuted in Spain even though he has been charged with rebellion. The prosecuted dozen are facing 7 to 25 years in prison.

11 May 2019, 08:36 AM

STA, 10 May 2019 - The investigating magistrate in the case of the abduction of a man by illegal immigrants has ordered that all three suspects arrested on Wednesday remain in detention. Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar meanwhile said the police were in control of the situation on the border with Croatia and that "there is presently no need for protest rallies".

 

A 25-year-old Morocco citizen and two 18-year-olds from Algeria are accused of abduction, theft and car robbery, prosecutor Srečko Hočevar told the media.

The three were arrested on Wednesday by Italian police and handed to Slovenia on suspicion they had abducted a 79-year-old man working in his vineyard near the Croatia border and had used his car to get to Italy. The man was released before the border.

Responding to the developments today, minister Poklukar said he regrets "that this criminal act occurred", but is "happy that it ended well".

"The Slovenian police are effective and successfully completed the arrest of the perpetrators together with the Italian police," the minister said on the sidelines of a fair in Portorož.

While Poklukar is convinced Slovenia is a safe country with a functioning national security system, he said the country was facing an increase in the number of crossings on the Croatian border.

"In the recent days we stepped up police activities and increased the number of army units in municipalities with a higher number of illegal crossings."

Commenting on the protest rally announced for Saturday in the Bela Krajina border region, the minister said that the police were in control and that no protests or discontent were necessary.

Analysts fear rise of anti-migration populism after incident

STA, 10 May 2019 - Two analysts quizzed by the STA feel that Wednesday's abduction of an elderly man by illegal migrants will have a profound effect on the ongoing EU election campaign. Andraž Zorko of pollster Valikon and Igor Kršinar, a journalist for the weekly Reporter, also agree PM Marjan Šarec made a mistake by not responding to the incident more aggressively.

Zorko said "nothing will be the same" after Wednesday, arguing the incident confirmed the darkest fears spread by the far-right - "that it is not refugees who are entering Slovenia but economic migrants who can be violent".

He added the development would boost the campaign of the parties with the hardest anti-migration stances, primarily the recently formed Homeland League (DOM) followed by the opposition Democrats (SDS).

While Zorko believes the opposition National Party (SNS) and its head Zmago Jelinčič, "a left nationalist", can only hope to win over a few centre-left voters frustrated with their primary parties' migration policies, Kršinar believes Jelinčič will be the biggest beneficiary of the incident.

Kršinar said Jelinčič had already stood out during Thursday's campaign debate on TV Slovenija: "He might even make it to the European Parliament, which will definitely be a special kind of affair."

Kršinar does not believe DOM will benefit, arguing the party has not attracted enough media attention and that unlike Jelinčič, DOM's leader Bernard Brščič is not a capable public speaker.

"Jelinčič says in a few words what many people want to hear but do not have the nerve to say. So called serious parties actually have a problem in that they cannot perform in the manner Jelinčič is doing it," he said.

Kršinar meanwhile feels that it remains unclear for now how much the SDS can gain. "Of course it will try to use the incident in its favour and it will be among the more important participants of Saturday's rally in Bela Krajina" border region, where the immigrants abducted the man and his car to get to Italy.

As for Šarec's decision to reject the SDS's call for a session of the National Security Council, Kršinar said the prime minister "made a major mistake and missed the opportunity to publicly demonstrate his determination to secure order and peace".

Zorko also said this was "a very bad message to the people living on the border", while both also highlighted the failure of Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar to appear at Thursday's press conference of the police.

The pair agrees a determined reaction would have been necessary from the state, since the situation is feeding the growth of populist movements.

"A determined PM would have immediately sent the army to the border and extended the border fence," Kršinar said, suggesting Šarec's LMŠ party may even fail to get a single MEP elected in the upcoming election because of the situation.

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