The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 04 October
Mladina: Slovenia reduced to periphery as key companies sold
STA, 4 October 2019 – The left-wing weekly Mladina criticises governments for lack of reflection and long-term vision when selling companies key to Slovenia's economic independence and sovereignty. "All serious countries take special care of certain sectors, and infrastructure is the first among them," the weekly writes in Friday's editorial Periphery Country.
Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž also notes that Slovenian managers and politicians like to brag about knowing the Balkans very well, but the truth is much more miserable.
He says there are only few Slovenian investments in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and elsewhere in the region, whereas Austria is a strong player there.
What is more, Croatian and Serbian companies have taken over a number of Slovenian flagships, such as retailer Mercator, food companies Droga Kolinska and Žito, soft drinks maker Fructal and bank Gorenjska Banka.
Nevertheless, the true big players on the Slovenian market come from others parts of Europe, chiefly Austria and Germany, says Repovž.
Taking a look at the case of Slovenian airline Adria Airways, Repovž says there was no doubt Germany's Lufthansa would try to take over Adria Airways.
And it goes without saying that Europe's leading airline has an advantage because the government sold Slovenian airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana to Germany's Fraport.
But while Austria, Switzerland and Belgium had set Lufthansa strict conditions when selling it their airlines, Slovenia's prime ministers Alenka Bratušek, Miro Cerar and Marjan Šarec "were obviously not thinking about these dimensions of their country's statehood, independence and sovereignty".
"Countries are no longer being conquered with armies, they are being conquered economically. And small countries which can easily become dependent are very careful [about this possibility]."
However, Slovenia has sold almost the entire food and retail sectors, all key banks and the national airport. It has avoided by a notch Hungary's becoming a co-owner of port operator Luka Koper, allowed a Chinese investor to buy home appliances maker Gorenje, sold one of its few tech gems, Fotona, for small change, and left the aviation market to the mercy of foreign airlines.
"Is this enough to prove that we are good students of those who then buy our companies? In the Balkans they call it 'voluntary sacrifice'. This is how Slovenia goes about strategic decisions. And a special credit for this goes to Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek," concludes Repovž.
Demokracija: Bojan Požar’s advertising deals not corruption
STA, 3 October 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija comes to the defence of Bojan Požar, the editor of online tabloid Pozareport who tried to enter politics, in its latest editorial, rejecting the premise that signing advertising deals with state companies while running for office entails serious corruption risks.
While only using the first names, Demokracija's editor-in-chief Jože Biščak compares Požar's campaign situation to Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who campaigned while he was serving as mayor, and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) head Karl Erjavec, who has served in ministerial posts for years.
The two politicians enjoyed stable funding by taxpayers and were constantly in the public limelight without having to spend almost any funds on campaigning, whereas Požar has to fight for his survival on the market.
"Because he has a media company, he needs to sign advertising deals with companies. If he fails, there will be no wages the next month. Bojan wanted to become a politician, but he failed. He is not an official, not part of the power structures, he works with his own money, for his own account."
According to Biščak, the question at the heart of the matter is "in which case the corruption risk is bigger ... with Marjan, Karl or Bojan?".
"In normal countries, where the dividing lines between state-owned, public and private are very clear, the answer would be clear: with Marjan and Karl. But because Slovenia is not normal (yet), let alone free, the (socialist) mainstream media are sending the Court of Audit and the Corruption Prevention Commission after Bojan (Požar)," Biščak says in the commentary entitled Other Side of the Mirror.
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