Ljubljana related

10 Sep 2021, 09:02 AM

STA, 10 September 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has received the award for person of the year in Central and Eastern Europe at the Economic Forum in Karpacz, Poland. In his speech, he underlined the region's key role in the bloc and its Christian heritage.

"Central Europe is defined by Christianity. In this the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity as core ideas of European integration were born from Catholic teachings. What is more, Central Europeans have defended the European way of life through history," he was quoted as saying by his office.

Invoking the Polish Solidarity movement and Pope John Paul II, Janša said the culture shaped by Christianity had inspired freedom fighters despite the repression and totalitarianism that Central Europe suffered during the conflict between the superpowers.

He said solidarity was what bound members of a community and should be "the eternal goal or motto of European integration," but the EU had departed too much from the fundamental principles of European integration - consensus, mutual respect, subsidiarity and solidarity - in its political debates and actions by some of its institutions.

According to Janša, there is "no strong Europe without a strong Central Europe. In fact, there is no truly European union without the countries of Central Europe. Central Europe is becoming more and more what the name of our part of the continent suggests: central, both in terms of economics and values."

Janša also appeared at a panel on post-Covid recovery along with the Polish and Ukrainian prime ministers, Mateusz Morawiecki and Denys Shmyhal, at which he argued that the geopolitical situation had changed and that the EU had to learn tough lessons from the latest developments.

According to him, it is necessary to transform the European economy and strengthen its resilience, processes in which he sees Slovenia playing a major role as the currently presiding country.

01 Sep 2021, 12:34 PM

STA, 1 September 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has urged the EU to return to its roots, to the basic principles laid down by the founding fathers, as he argued at the Bled Strategic Forum that this is the only way to ensure unity while preserving diversity.

"It is my opinion that the European structure must built on stone, on the firm foundations set by the fathers of the EU. Any attempt to build out the European structure on sand has failed and will fail," he said on arrival at the event.

He said the guiding principles should be unity when it comes to strategic decisions and "freedom in everything else".

Laying out his vision in his opening address to the forum, Janša said the founding fathers had formulated four principal mechanisms - consensus, mutual respect, subsidiarity and solidarity.

Along the way Europe has sometimes moved away from these principles or even against them, but he said the bloc should be well advised to continue heeding them. How to implement these values is "the defining question of our time".

The prime minister acknowledged that there were different visions about the future of Europe, which is why Slovenia's EU presidency was keen to have "a sincere and open discussion on the European future" in which everyone can speak and be listened to.

The debate must be about the core principles of consensus seeking, solidarity, mutual respect and subsidiarity if Europe is to successfully tackle challenges, he said, noting that "unnecessary fights" were preoccupying its political agenda.

The debate must be about "who we are" and the strategic goal is to ensure unity while preserving diversity. "Europe does not have to reinvent the wheel, we have to return to the origins."

Laying out his vision of Europe three decades from now, Janša said he saw a strong EU based on the European civilisation with strong member states, a bloc that is "able to project and execute soft and hard power".

He also sees Europe at peace with itself and set in peaceful and prosperous surroundings, a part of a strong NATO and a world leader in terms of freedom and quality of life, a place of "dynamic and free expression of opinions".

It would also have high standards of respect for human rights and rule of law based on equal standards for all and on the cooperation of democratic institutions elected by the people.

Foreign Minister Anže Logar said in his address that the optimism of 2004, when Eastern European countries joined the EU, had been replaced by "a heavy dose of political realism and even pessimism", but the consensus was that the EU is still able to deliver, which it has shown during the Covid-19 crisis.

He noted that Europe had started to "more like a problem-solving union instead of a community adopting a strategic approach," noting that it was now necessary to identify the bloc's role in the world.

Such a debate should "not shy away from security and migrations". "We do not wish to evade issues which might be difficult or controversial to discuss, we wish to have an open debate."

European Council President Charles Michel noted that talking about the future of the EU must be about "what it should be ... its relationship with entire European geographic area, how it is organised ... and how to involve the citizens more."

While solidarity is at the root of the EU and its future, the EU has also become a project of influence, he said, noting that the bloc had become the largest exporter of standards in global trade.

"Yet the most important export standard is democracy, human rights and the rule of law... It is chosen freely, but it is both gateway to the union and vital to its proper functioning."

30 Aug 2021, 11:54 AM

STA, 29 August 2021 - The head of the ruling coalition Democrats (SDS) and Prime Minister Janez Janša commented at the party's regional meeting in Leskovec pri Krškem on Saturday on a possible new coalition, saying that the SDS did not exclude anyone but that it did have certain conditions such as that all partners work for the common good rather than own interests.

He said coalition partners will need to put the interests of the people first. This is why there cannot be any talks on open borders and migration corridors, he was quoted as saying in a post on the SDS's website.

Another condition for cooperating in the next coalition is strict respect for the values of the Slovenian Constitution, Janša said.

All parties that will join the SDS in the next coalition must also agree to support the European Parliament's resolution condemning all totalitarian regimes, he said.

Commenting on the upcoming election year, he said that a lot of work had been done so far despite the fact that the state was faced with the epidemic, and despite criticism from the opposition.

He listed efforts for debureaucratisation, investment in education and sport, and the bill on long-term car that has been filed in the parliamentary procedure as the most important measures adopted by the government.

21 Aug 2021, 14:22 PM

STA, 21 August 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša and Interior Minister Aleš Hojs were heckled by anti-government protesters at a mountain hut below Mt Triglav, Slovenia's tallest peak, on Friday evening.

Video shared on social media and reports by media including N1 and Reporter show Janša and Hojs filmed being confronted by a group of protesters as they were sitting in front of the Kredarica mountain hut.

This was after anti-government protesters, who usually stage bicycle rallies in the centre of Ljubljana, marked the 70th week of protests by climbing Mt Triglav, bicycle in tow.

Various social media posts suggest the protesters and the government officials met by chance.

The interchange lasted several minutes, during which Janša and Hojs faced a barrage of criticism and insults while periodically exchanging statements with the protesters.

The authors of the video said Defence Minister Matej Tonin was also there, but he is not seen on video.

Tonin's party, New Slovenia (NSi), confirmed Tonin had climbed Mt Triglv on Friday independently, with a group of ministry officials.

On the way up he encountered protesters who hurled some insults at him and behaved inappropriately.

Reporter says a helicopter landed at the mountain hut at around 9:45 PM and took the officials to the valley.

The prime minister's office would not comment on the events beyond saying that Janša had gone to Triglav in his spare time.

Uroš Urbanija, the head of the Government Communications Office, tweeted that the actions by the protesters were "a primitive attack".

One of the activists, trade unionist Tea Jarc, subsequently wrote on Twitter that an opponent of the protest movement had punched her.

23 Jul 2021, 17:48 PM

STA, 23 July 2021 - Following a report that PM Janez Janša has been holidaying in Mauritius with representatives of the largest healthcare suppliers in Slovenia for years, part of the opposition has demanded a debate in parliament. On the other hand, the prime minister's office noted that Janša had never been on the island when he served as prime minister.

It was reported by the web portal Necenzurirano on Friday that Janša has been holidaying on the exotic island east of Madagascar for almost 20 years, playing golf and socialising with lobbyist Božo Dimnik and entrepreneur Andrej Marčič.

Marčič is the owner and director of the IT company Marand, which together with affiliated companies has generated in the last 20 years more than EUR 100 million in turnover with budget users alone.

Janša's son Žan was reportedly employed in one of his companies for several years, according to Necenzurirano.

Dimnik is also an entrepreneur and lobbyist. The company Medias International, which is owned by his daughter Diana, and which sells medical equipment and material, has generated EUR 200 million in turnover with health institutions in Slovenia.

The prime minister's office reacted to the report by telling the STA Janša had played golf in Mauritius several times, "which is publicly known and has been published many times. He was never in Mauritius during the time when he was prime minister."

Necenzurirano noted that the ruling Democrats (SDS), which is headed by Janša, had been publicly warning about systemic corruption in healthcare and forming parliamentary inquiry commissions regarding purchase of medical equipment.

This is what opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deputy Jerca Korče also noted in her statement to the press, adding that the "SDS has been selling us for all those years the story about tentacles and corruption and cronyism in healthcare."

It is more than obvious that they have only been diverting attention from the fact that they themselves are the core of the deep state," she added.

The LMŠ will thus call a session of the parliamentary Public Finance Oversight Commission, which according to Korče should look into the deals made at the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic with "one of the golf friends of Prime Minister Janša".

The commission should also establish how the contract with the Secretariat-General of the Government had been concluded, and what impact Janša's holidaying with the supplier had on the conclusion of this contract.

According to Korče, the matter should be also examined by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption and the Court of Audit.

The LMŠ deputy said that for someone who has been holding public offices for many years it was "important who are you spending your holidays with and what are the consequences of such holidays".

Korče added that the story featured too many connected facts that one could say that it was only a coincidence.

Violeta Tomić of the Left also announced a strong reaction from the opposition. She said that "always when Janša is in power, public money pours into the pockets of friends and people with the party membership", while at the same time they are establishing inquiry commissions and talking about zero tolerance to corruption in healthcare.

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) meanwhile said on Twitter that it now depended only on New Slovenia (NSi) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) "how long the National Assembly will tolerate severe corruption risks".

"Janez Janša making a mockery of the state may be ended either by elections or vote of no confidence. We can only hope that interference in the police has not hampered prosecution of corruption," the party added.

19 Jul 2021, 16:22 PM

STA, 19 July 2021 - The latest Vox Populi poll, commissioned by the dailies Dnevnik and Večer, shows that the rating of the Janez Janša government has hit its lowest point so far. The ruling Democrats (SDS) nevertheless remain in the lead, followed by the opposition SocDems and the Left.

The government's rating is at an all-time low with 71.9% of respondents rating it is not doing its job well, 5.8 points more than last month. The government's work was rated as successful by 26% of respondents, which is 3.8 points less than in June, shows the poll released on Monday.

The SDS polled at 18.2%, down 0.9 points over the month before. The Social Democrats (SD) are in second place with 12,7%, up from 12.1% in June, trailed by the opposition Left in third at 10.1%, a three-point gain month-on-month.

The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) is in fourth place with 9.2%, gaining 0.4% on June, followed by the coalition New Slovenia (NSi), which lost almost two percentage points to 4.7%. The opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) got 3.6%, almost the same as in June.

The party rankings are completed by the People's Party (SLS) at 1.1%, the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at 0.7%, the National Party (SNS) at 0.6% and the Modern Centre Party (SMC) at 0.3%. All of them saw their ratings slip.

The share of undecided voters decreased by almost a full percentage point, from 30.5% to 29.6%, and the share of those who would not cast their ballot at all was the same as in June.

According to the poll, if there were an election now, the SDS would secure 28 seats in parliament, the SD 19, the Left 15, the LMŠ 14, the NSi seven and the SAB five.

Former NSi president and MEP Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) remains the most popular Slovenian politician. President Borut Pahor, who had been a long-standing favourite in this category, is now in second place, followed by the Speaker of the National Assembly Igor Zorčič.

The poll was conducted by pollster Ninamedia between 13 and 15 July among 700 respondents.

15 Jul 2021, 11:38 AM

STA, 14 July 2021 - The centre-left opposition are considering mounting a fresh attempt to oust the Janez Janša government after failing with a vote of no confidence in February and an impeachment in May. This time, they will carry out the plan only if they are certain of their majority.

If the opposition gathers 46 votes, it will table a motion of no confidence, SocDem leader Tanja Fajon said on Wednesday after meeting the leaders of the LMŠ, Left, SAB and unaffiliated MPs.

The five deputy groups do not have 46 votes among them and are counting on the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which was split in the two previous attempts and did not deliver the majority.

DeSUS has been in disarray for months and under its latest president, Ljubo Jasnič, disputes between the party leadership and its MPs, who tend to vote with the government, have not been ironed out.

According to Fajon, the centre-left opposition will keep an eye on four key votes this week, including on the law on the national demographic fund and the new digital transformation minister, to see how DeSUS votes.

While a vote of no confidence in the entire government requires the proponents to put forward a candidate for prime minister, Fajon indicated a name had not been chosen yet.

"But any one of us who shows this interest or ambition should be ready," she said.

The attempt comes after the government suffered several defeats within just days. After a new waters act was overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum, the National Council vetoed amendments to the communicable diseases act and the candidate for the new Constitutional Court judge was not confirmed.

11 Jul 2021, 17:18 PM

STA, 11 July 2021 - The Iranian Foreign Ministry has summoned Slovenia's Ambassador to Iran, Kristina Radej, over Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša's recent calls for an inquiry into a 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran, Iranian media reported. Tehran has asked for an explanation from the Slovenian government.

Iran's IRNA news agency reported that the country's Foreign Ministry summoned on Sunday the Slovenian ambassador in Tehran. The reason for the step is Janša's video address at a recent Free Iran World Summit, an annual global event organised by the Iranian diaspora, which Tehran described as an online meeting of "a terrorist group".

The ministry condemned Janša's appearance at the summit during the talk with Ambassador Radej. The Iranian officials told the ambassador that the appearance was "unacceptable, against diplomatic norms and spirit" of bilateral relations, IRNA reported.

The Slovenian ambassador was also told that supporting terrorist organisations was not in line with the United Nations Charter, international principles or human rights values.

Radej assured the officials that she would inform the Slovenian government about Iran's objection to Janša's step.

Janša appeared at the virtual summit on Saturday, urging an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre. In his video message he expressed support for setting up a UN-led commission of inquiry into allegations of state-ordered executions of thousands of political prisoners after the move had been called for by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman.

Janša, the prime minister of a country that is currently at the helm of the Council of the EU, said "this is especially important in light of the fact that the regime's next president will be Ebrahim Raisi, who is accused by Amnesty International of crimes against humanity for his role in the massacre".

"The Iranian regime must be held accountable for human rights violations and the international community must be firmer on this," he said.

The STA has put a number of queries regarding the developments to the Slovenian Foreign Ministry and awaits the answers.

11 Jul 2021, 17:05 PM

STA, 11 July 2021 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša endorsed an inquiry into a 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran as he delivered a video address to the annual Free Iran World Summit, a global event organised by the Iranian diaspora.

"For nearly 33 years the world had forgotten about the victims of the massacre. This should change," he said in a video address he posted on Twitter on Sunday.

Janša expressed his support for a UN-led commission of inquiry into the massacre, after the UN investigator on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, recently called for an independent inquiry into allegations of state-ordered executions of thousands of political prisoners.

PM Janša appears around 1 hours 54 minutes

Janša said such an inquiry commission was "of crucial importance to shed light on the horrible 1988 massacre" and would help the families of victims to finally achieve closure and justice.

"This is especially important in light of the fact that the regime's next president will be Ebrahim Raisi, who is accused by Amnesty International of crimes against humanity for his role in the massacre," he said.

"I will personally continue being engaged on all these issues of concern. You can always count on my understanding and support," he said.

According to Janša, the Iranian people deserve democracy, freedom and human rights "and should be firmly supported by the international community".

"The Iranian regime must be held accountable for human rights violations and the international community must be firmer on this."

10 Jul 2021, 09:30 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 9 July 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Govt engaged in voter suppression

STA, 9 July 2021 - In its latest commentary, Mladina questions the current government's law-making practices and mentions failures in the fight against the epidemic, the intensifying repression and obstruction of political participation, adding that events surrounding the latest referendum on the new water law suggest this can't be just a coincidence.

"The repressive content of the law on infectious diseases and the referendum on the new waters act suggest that there are too many coincidences to believe that this is not a deliberate obstruction of the electorate," says the commentary headlined Are These Really Just Coincidences?

"Were we naive to think that the institution of elections would not be touched?" asks Mladina and continues with listing suspicious administrative occurrences surrounding the referendum on the new water law.

The left-leaning weekly also criticized the government's handling of the Covid-19 epidemic: "They have known since March that they have big problems here, that people do not trust them, but they continued with the very same incompetent team that brought us into this situation. No reflection, no consideration, all the same nonsense and mistakes as last summer."

"Do these people really understand nothing? Or do they understand and continue doing these things deliberately because this situation suits them, because they want the country in a new lockdown, so they can continue their cultural and social revolution during this period?"

Mladina says that "nevertheless, it is worth believing that these are just coincidences or incompetence, and to behave politically." They say that voters' political behaviour was also proven by the early voting turnout in the referendum.

"If the new waters act is defeated in the referendum despite all the 'coincidences', this will send a loud and clear message to the government and the coalition."

"So far, they have been able to declare the polls unreliable and downplay the importance of protests. But if you don't allow people to have early elections, even when they made their wish clear, they will find other ways of political engagement. Underestimating people has a high price," concludes the commentary.

Reporter: Janša's problems with communication growing

STA, 5 July 2021 - The right-leaning weekly Reporter says in its latest editorial that Prime Minister Janez Janša's problems in communication with politicians and media are becoming ever bigger. Not many people can turn a routine event such as the start of the EU presidency into a scandal, says the paper.

The start of the EU presidency is usually a boring, routine event full of predictable statements and cliches. The country taking over the presidency boasts its achievements and presents its ambitious agenda for the next six months.

But in the case of Slovenia, the country's priorities and all the positive messages, which an army of clerks and PR experts has been working on, were overshadowed by the statements and actions of top Slovenian officials.

Even on 1 July, the EU's recovery after the pandemic, Conference on the Future of Europe, strengthening of security, preserving the European way of life and respect for the rule of law were not the main topics of media reports on Slovenia.

Instead, media have been writing for a few days about photographs and swines and ice-cold relations between Janša and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen.

The most credit for this goes to Janša himself, who again made his domestic resentments towards media and judiciary international as the delegation from Brussels paid a visit.

It was almost inevitable that he will do it sometime in the next six months, but it was expected he will pick better timing and do it more successfully.

A photo of judges at a picnic hosted by the SocDems is not something that would shock von der Leyen and European commissioners. She made it clear that judges can be members or sympathisers of political parties.

Moreover, not long ago court proceedings involving Janša were cancelled because of jurors who were members of his Democrats (SDS).

And by attacking the SocDems, Janša offered Frans Timmermans, the European Commission vice-president from the ranks of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), a chance to make a scandal b

All our posts in this series are here

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