Janša’s New Govt Confirmed, Police, Army & Defence Intel Chiefs Dismissed

By , 14 Mar 2020, 09:50 AM Politics
Janša’s New Govt Confirmed, Police, Army & Defence Intel Chiefs Dismissed Wikimedia - EPP Summit 2011, CC-by-0

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STA, 13 March 2020 - Slovenia got its 14th government at the height of the coronavirus epidemic as the National Assembly confirmed the centre-right cabinet of Janez Janša at a session Friday at which the fight against coronavirus and the previous government's inaction in the face of the outbreak dominated the debate.

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 Janša, the president of the Democrats (SDS), came out in force against the previous government's efforts, accusing it of having missed the best time to take action and announcing that the new cabinet would hold its first session an hour after parliament goes into recess to discuss new measures to fight the epidemic.

He promised the government would take concerted and far-reaching measures. The virus can no longer be stopped, but its spreading must be slowed. "This is a battle with time, a battle that has to be won inasmuch as this is possible," he said.

The debate touched on little else except the epidemic, which is not surprising given that the new government will take over a day after Slovenia officially declared a coronavirus epidemic due to a surging number of new cases.

Janša said the outgoing government had "flunked the test in recent days", likening the response of the authorities to the reaction to the migration crisis in 2015, when "what was coming was underestimated and reactions were chaotic".

This was despite health professionals warning that immediate tough measures must be taken to contain the disease, he said, noting that Slovenia should have followed the example of countries such as South Korea, which it had had enough time to do given that there was a month's advance warning from the situation in China.

Given the national emergency, the new centre-left opposition pledged to be constructive in helping the government fight the epidemic, but it also stressed that it would keep close watch on any actions that may be deemed excessive.

The Left in particular warned about Janša's "autocratic potential" with MP Matej Tašner Vatovec saying that the circumstances - the coronavirus epidemic and the looming new migration wave - practically "put the state of emergency into your hands". "He will not have to create a state of emergency like he did in the past, it is practically here already."

The coalition said once the situation normalises the government would focus on its priorities, in particular demographic policy, regional development, infrastructure investments, housing policy and healthcare, and presidency of the EU in 2021.

SDS deputy Eva Irgl said the overarching goal was to ensure the "fair and effective functioning of the state" by tackling pensions and health insurance, establishing a balance between welfare and the market economy, strengthening Slovenian and European identity, and protecting borders.

Irgl said it was impossible to put all priorities of the coalition partners in the coalition agreement given that the government will have only two years, but it would "invest the time and effort to together support solutions that citizens urgently need."

The session lasted a mere two and a half hours as procedural rules were used to limit formalities and all but a handful of MPs refrained from debate after the deputy groups presented their positions.

The entire process of building the government has been fast by Slovenian standards. The vote came just two weeks after Janša was endorsed as prime minister designate and a month and a half after Marjan Šarec stepped down as prime minister.

Several coalition MPs today stressed it was fortuitous that the partners had decided against a snap election, the outcome favoured by Šarec, and in favour of building a new government; if snap election had been the chosen path, Slovenia would now be in the midst of an election campaign.

Police, army and defence intel chiefs dismissed

STA, 14 March 2020 - The Janez Janša government dismissed the heads of the police force, the armed forces and of the Defence Ministry's intelligence and security service OVS at its maiden session early on Saturday.

Addressing reporters after the session, Defence Minister Matej Tonin announced the decision on the dismissals of Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar, Chief of the General Staff Major General Alenka Ermenc and OVS director Dejan Matijevič.

Ermenc's successor is yet to be appointed with her deputy, Brigadier Robert Glavaš, 58, taking over for the interim period.

Anton Travner, a security expert who has served with the Geneva Centre for Security Centre Governance (DCAF) as head of Border Security Programme for Southeast Europe, was appointed acting police commissioner.

Ermenc and Bobnar were the first women to head the army and police force. They were both appointed by the Marjan Šarec government.

Andrej Osolnik was appointed OVS director for a five-year term.

The government also made several other appointments with Božo Predalič returning as government secretary general. He will also represent Slovenia as a sole stakeholder in state-owned companies, according to a press release issued after the government session.

Kristina Plavšak Krajnc was dismissed as director of the Government Communication Office (UKOM) with Miro Petek, a former MP and press officer for Janša's Democratic Party (SDS) named as acting director.

As is usual, the heads of junior coalition partners, who also serve as ministers, were named deputies to the PM; Zdravko Počivalšek (Modern centre Party), Matej Tonin (New Slovenia) and Aleksandra Pivec (Pensioners' Party).

Several state secretaries have also been appointed with diplomat Igor Senčar, SDS MP Žan Mahnič and Vinko Gorenak, a former SDS MP and interior minister, appointed as state secretaries in the PM's office.

Franc Kangler, the former Maribor mayor, was named state secretary in the Interior Ministry, while Gašper Dovžan and Tone Kajzer were appointed state secretaries at the Foreign Ministry, and Damijan Jaklin and Uroš Lampret will be state secretaries at the Defence Ministry.

Peter Ješovnik and Kristina Šteblaj were named Finance Ministry state secretaries and Aleš Cantarutti was reappointed one of the state secretaries at the Economy Ministry along with Simon Zajc, who has so far served as environment minister.

Andrej Možina, the former head of the Medical Chamber, was named state secretary at the Health Ministry, and Blaž Košorok, the former CEO of the power utility HSE, was appointed state secretary at the Infrastructure Ministry, among others.

Lilijana Kozlovič, who was appointed justice minister last night, is being replaced as the head of the Environment Agency by Iztok Slatinšek as acting director.

All our stories about the new government can be found here

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