Ljubljana related

08 Nov 2020, 10:42 AM

With the election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, Politico looks at the European leaders set to win and lose from the what appears to be a landslide victory for the Democratic candidate and a humiliating defeat for one-term President, all-time loser, Donald Trump, who will leave office in January 2021 to face allegations of fraud and sexual assault, as well as looming personal bankruptcy.

Among the winners it puts Germany’s Angela Merkel, Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, and France’s Emmanuel Macron, while among the losers, those set back by the solid repudiation of chaos, culture war and open corruption, are said to be the UK’s Boris Johnson, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, and Slovenia’s own Janez Janša.

PM Janša, whose very active Twitter feed is still alive with allegations of fraud and conspiracy in the US elections, as well as dire warnings of fascism coming to America under the guise of liberalism, is noted for his premature and utterly baseless congratulation of Trump on winning a second term, as well as his claim that Biden “would be one of the weakest presidents in history”.

You can read the full report here, while the usual entertaining analysis of the Slovene scene is available from Pengovsky

07 Nov 2020, 12:00 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 5 November 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Janša a "serious problem" for Slovenia and Europe

STA, 6 November 2020 - The latest editorial of the left-leaning weekly Mladina says that the US election tweets by PM Janez Janša have put Slovenia on the international map, but not in the way that Foreign Minister Anže Logar meant when he said Slovenia was returning to the international arena.

"We are finally recognized as a country with a clearly emotionally unstable and politically unreasonable prime minister. From this week we no longer have to explain to anyone in international politics why we have a problem and that our problem is serious. But it is not only us who have a problem: Europe now knows that it has a problem as well," Mladina says on Friday under the headline Black Week.

It says Janša has demonstrated that he knows little about diplomacy or is not really interested in it and that he does not care about Slovenia's international reputation. It speaks of a selfish modus operandi similar to that of US President Donald Trump, driven by populism and the perception of politics primarily as a business opportunity.

"But we need to wonder about something else that is more important at this moment. How can this person occupy himself with the US election in a week where more than 20 people die every day, when the figures are as bad as they can get," says Mladina. "Does he really not have even a bit of empathy? Are we dealing with a sociopath?"

Mladina argues the US will suffer long lasting consequences after a single Trump term. "The same goes for Slovenia: every additional month under Janša is distorting this society further, deforming its values, the real picture."

Seeing hope in the centre-left coalition formed recently under the leadership of economist Jože P. Damijan, Mladina calls for a vote of no-confidence as soon as possible, saying "this is not only about international reputation or about staffing, it is about health and lives".

Demokracija: Opposition’s needless attacks on Janša

STA, 5 November 2020 - The government is not taking any measures that would actually require street protests, and perhaps this is precisely the reason why the left-leaning opposition wants to create a state of emergency in politics, the right-wing weekly Demokracija says in its latest commentary.

The right-leaning weekly says that the opposition would apparently rather let a hundred people more die than help the government of Janez Janša and admit that it is successfully managing the virus from Wuhan.

"The instigation of fear of Janša has revealed a deep, horrifying chasm between reality and what the media project as reality. And in this vortex of egotistic opposition, there comes the leftist foursome with the idea that the government should be taken down."

It could be said that the idea is surrealist if it was not floated by a "revolutionary coalition of the mainstream media and deep state", where candidates supported by the mafia are being presented as saviours", headlined by Jože P. Damijan (JPD).

Demokracija says that Damijan is a man who had walked the path of classical economic liberalism until he realised that being impressed with socialist ideas is much more profitable for him.

It was then that the media started presenting him as a "candidate for prime minister-designate", or as "possible prime minister-designate" who is starting talks with the leftist political parties, with which he is supposed to form a government.

"This is not funny, this is tragic: in the JPD case, the mainstream media behaves as if elections in Slovenia are just around the corner or as if the centre-right government has resigned. But neither of this happened, and JPD is currently nobody.

"He is not even a useful idiot who has warmed up to the idea of being prime minister-designate without realising why he came into the spotlight in the first place. It has turned out that JPD was an idiot even before he became useful," concludes the commentary People Who Were Idiots Before They Became Useful.

All our posts in this series are here

04 Nov 2020, 11:19 AM

Updated: 16:45

STA, 4 November 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted on Wednesday morning that it was "pretty clear that American people have elected Donald Trump" for another four-year term as US president. The more that there will be "delays and fact denying" from mainstream media, the bigger the final triumph for the president, Janša added.

Janša, who also congratulated the Republican Party "for strong results across the US", had endorsed Trump for a second term on 23 October.

"We respect difficult, tragic personal life of Joe Biden and some of his political achievements years ago. But today, if elected, he would be one of the weakest presidents in history. When a free world desperately needs strong US as never before. Go, win, Donald Trump," wrote Janša in English on Twitter then.

Janša's latest tweet prompted a series of questions from foreign media at the European Commission's midday briefing on Wednesday.

Commission chief spokesperson Eric Mamer would not comment on Janša's tweet, but said: "We will abide by whatever announcement is forthcoming officially by the relevant US authorities, and we think that everybody should do likewise."

Foreign reporters raised Janša's tweet from the aspect of the fight against disinformation and the EU principle that an electoral process is not commented on. They argued it should be said clearly at least it was wrong to do so.

In response Mamer said he did not say it was not wrong, while he reiterated that as a rule an electoral process was not to be commented on, something that should be followed, while Janša's tweet was going in a different direction.

A reaction also came from Croatian President Zoran Milanović in response to a journalist question about Janša's tweet at today's meeting with reporters in Koprivnica.

Referring to Slovenia's spell at the presidency of the Council of the EU next year, Milanović said: "I hope such conduct is not a sign of his conduct at the helm of the EU because this is not done in principle."

He added that it was well known in Croatia which side he favoured himself, but he would wait for the final results before making his assessment of the vote.

25 Oct 2020, 20:36 PM

STA, 25 October 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša's endorsement of US President Donald Trump for a second term has sparked an acrimonious Twitter exchange with Michael Carpenter, the foreign policy advisor to Trump's Democrat challenger Joseph Biden.

"Lol, Trump picks up an endorsement from Slovenia's prime minister, previously indicted and convicted on corruption charges. But don't worry, Slovenian friends, in 11 days we'll be sending demagogic populism packing," Carpenter tweeted, adding the Slovenian word for shame, 'sramota' at the end.

This was after Janša joined leaders of the likes of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in endorsing Trump.

"We respect difficult, tragic personal life of Joe Biden and some of his political achievements years ago. But today, if elected, he would be one of the weakest presidents in history," Janša tweeted on Friday.

In response to Carpenter's tweet Janša denounced it as blatant lie on Twitter on Saturday.

"Yes, I was not only wrongfully convicted, but also sent to prison 3 times starting with 1988 trial in front of Yugoslav communist military court. But all cases were dismantled by Constitutional or other courts. It is A.D. 2021. You can easily check the facts online," Janša tweeted.

"Despite that, you are blatantly lying. Now I see why @realDonaldTrump calls you the #Swamp. Even if this is an influence of yours "slovenian friends", it doesn't excuse you. Hope US administration will newer again shame itself by such "career" diplomat."

Janša also said that "all of us outside #US will of course respect the decision of US voters whatever they decide. Hope you will do the same (there are some doubts watching your supporters in Baltimore)".

Carpenter's tweet invited both negative and positive reactions. Dan Fried, a former as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, tweeted that it was not wise for a country to take sides in another country's democratic elections.

Reporting on Janša's endorsement of Trump, the Associated Press wrote that right-wing conservatives in Eastern and Central Europe, like Orban, Serbian President Aleksanda Vučić and Janša, "have sometimes copied Trump's style of leadership".

23 Oct 2020, 13:15 PM

STA, 23 October 2020 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša endorsed US President Donald Trump's reelection on Friday, adding his name to a list of foreign leaders who have come out in support of Trump during the election campaign, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

"We respect difficult, tragic personal life of Joe Biden and some of his political achievements years ago. But today, if elected, he would be one of the weakest presidents in history. When a free world desperately needs strong US as never before. Go, win, Donald Trump," wrote Janša in English on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Matej Tonin, the leader of the Christian democratic New Slovenia, tweeted that Slovenia would respect the decision of US voters, while he called for enhancing relations with the US "regardless of who will head the administration". "I believe the upcoming election will be a celebration of democracy again," he added.

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) endorsed Biden on their Twitter profile. They said the world needed leaders who understood cooperation, empathy, kindness as key to progress and prosperity for everyone. "People like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris," they tweeted.

Trump will face his challenger Biden in an election on 3 November as he seeks another four-year term. Biden is currently leading election polls.

17 Oct 2020, 11:32 AM

STA, 16 October 2020 - Putting 38% of Slovenian territory under Natura 2000 protection was "a shot in the knee", Prime Minister Janez Janša told the press after an EU summit that had climate goals as one of the items on the agenda. He indicated Slovenia would only support goals that are feasible.

The EU summit on Thursday called for a strengthening of climate ambitions in the next decade in order to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2050. There is no specific agreement yet on the goal to reduce emissions, the desire is to reach one in December.

It was agreed this time that the enhanced goal must be reached together in the most cost-effective way. All member states will participate, whereby national circumstances, fairness and solidarity will be considered.

Eleven member states that have pushed for more ambitious targets issued a special statement calling for an agreement on the goal to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

Asked whether Slovenia intended to join the eleven, having once considered itself as a climate-ambitious country, Janša said that "politics can change every day, but we will not change natural conditions, in particular when we shot ourselves in the knee in the past."

He said one such shot in the knee was declaring 38% of Slovenia's territory a Natura 200 area, where it is forbidden to produce energy from natural and sustainable sources. The European average is 18%.

"We'll try to be ecologically conscious and yet not be complete idiots like those who drew these maps at that time not realising what it is actually all about," he said.

"We will not deal with the signing of various statements in which you commit to high targets, but at the same time ... expect that others will achieve them," he said, noting that Slovenia would support goals that will actually be implemented and would not pay triple the price like some neighbouring countries might.

Speaking about the summit debate, Janša said that nobody had major qualms about the 55% target, but there were concerns about how to achieve it, the price, and a fair approach.

"These targets need to be achieved so that they are actually sustainable, it should not just be about achieving some formally determined targets notwithstanding the price and consequences."

This means that "it does not make sense to generously subsidise electric cars and abolish diesel [cars] but then burn coal in thermal power plants to charge electric cars. There are rational boundaries here that simply must be respected."

Janša also highlighted the issue of global competitiveness. If Europe, which produces just over a tenth of global emissions, sticks to the rules and limits its own industry to its detriment, its competitiveness will decline, which will leave less money for research and innovation, the only path to achieving long-term climate goals.

He said it was clear the targets cannot be achieved without nuclear energy, which is a problem for some countries. Slovenia will definitely not have a new generator at its nuclear power plant until 2030, which means a lot will have to be done to approach the target.

All our stories on the environment and Slovenia

15 Oct 2020, 21:57 PM

STA, 15 October - The Slovenian Press Agency has expressed indignation at Prime Minister Janez Janša's Twitter post in which he describes the agency as a "national disgrace, an evident abuse of the name it carries".

The statement accompanied the retweet of a post by the editor of Demokracija, Jože Biščak, who questioned STA's priorities by noting that a report about the construction of the Cirkovce-Pince power line, which Janša attended, had fewer words than an interview with the rapper Zlatko.

"Judging the quality of reporting work based on word count, the basis for Prime Minister Janez Janša's response on Twitter, is anything but a professional standard," the STA said.

It noted that several news items had been published about the event Janša attended, whereas the interview with Zlatko accompanied the release of his new album. Moreover, these are different genres that cannot be compared either in terms of form or length.

"Such a manner of labelling the work of reporters of the STA, which is owned by the state but performs a public service, is inadmissible, baseless and is far from the kind of stance we would expect from the president of the largest political party and current prime minister," the agency said.

This is not the first time Janša has written about the STA this way. In March he designated the agency as a ventilator of fake news.

The Slovenian Journalists' Association said it was concerned about a new attack on a media outlet by the prime minister on social networks, noting that the STA is "one of the key building blocks of the Slovenian media environment". The association also stressed that the STA wire is used by media across the board, regardless of their world view, which further justifies it being called a national agency.

Rejecting criticism that is based on incomparable benchmarks, the association said it was "additionally surprised that the prime minister, who publicly urges the citizens to act responsibly in fighting coronavirus, invests energy in confrontation with the media, which are key in the dissemination of information about the measures the government is taking".

13 Oct 2020, 19:03 PM

STA, 13 October 2020 - A meeting of top representatives of all three branches of power at the presidential palace on Tuesday saw Prime Minster Janez Janša defending the continuing criticism of the judiciary by arguing that respect first needed to be earned. President Borut Pahor urged respectful, responsible and dignified communication..

Pahor, who hosted the meeting dedicated to the "the principle of division of power - (self)limitation, mutual oversight and mutual cooperation", opened the discussion by saying division still meant cooperation was needed, this however also required proper form.

The meeting was prompted by Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič, who expressed the wish a suitable response is secured to inappropriate commentaries and attacks on the judiciary that have intensified recently.

Florjančič believes that the inappropriate attitude of individual representatives of the executive branch of power towards the judicial branch was increasingly also reflected in the public.

"Is it really not possible to find other means of communication than public labelling and denigrating of judges and thereby of the judicial branch?" Florjančič wondered.

Janša sees things differently, arguing that despite the division of powers "it is probably not forbidden to express criticism". He feels it would be hard to speak of democracy if this were not allowed.

The prime minister also finds it hard to listen about individuals feeling hurt because they are criticised, while judicial errors, as they were referred to by Florjanič, lead to people dying, having their family, career and life destroyed.

"And this is not happening in Yugoslavia but in independent democratic Slovenia, where we constantly pay lip service to human rights," said Janša, who himself spent time in jail in 2014 in a bribery case that was later sent back into retrial and eventually became statute barred.

"Respect needs to be earned," Janša added, calling on the judiciary to engage in critical self-reflection to see where the problems lie. If this reflection and reform is not possible in the judiciary - this is likely the case for politics - "those whose lives you are destroying will protest", Janša argued.

He would like the judiciary to open up, so everybody can monitor the trials and that the Slovakian judicial reform be studied. It is the judiciary that needs to initiate change, as this will help avoid political debates.

Parliament Speaker Igor Zorčič, who noted that it needed to be understood that the public demands answers each time a case fails to be resolved in court, agreed the judicial branch had to function in a way that made it accepted as legitimate by the public.

He however added that it was questionable if intensive criticism by somebody from the executive branch can contribute to this in any way.

National Council president Alojz Kovšca agreed that doubts harboured by the public and politics regarding the judicially are perhaps being expressed in an inappropriate fashion, too directly, too harshly, but the right to doubt is also the basis of democracy.

Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič added that criticism in itself does not constitute interference in an independent branch of power, it is however important to discuss things in a constructive manner. This view is shared by State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa and Constitutional Court President Rajko Knez.

The meeting also touched on calls to end parliamentary appointments of judges, with Florjančič arguing it was hard to understand how parliament can reject judges that were picked on the basis of professional criteria by the Judicial Council.

While he does not see how it is possible to get quality appointments this way, Zorčič suggested it can hardly be expected of the legislative branch to just rubber-stamp what is adopted by the Judicial Council.

11 Oct 2020, 19:25 PM

STA, 11 October 2020 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has condemned the defacing of a monument in the courtyard of the government of the Austrian state of Carinthia in Klagenfurt during Saturday's ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite.

Janša said on Twitter on Sunday that the defacing of the monument to Carinthian unity was detrimental to the Slovenian compatriots in Carinthia and Slovenia's reputation in the world.

Over the night, unknown perpetrators covered the monument with black and turquoise paint and wrote "Death to Fascism" in Slovenian.

Calling the act a primitive left-wing disgrace, the prime minister said it had been "indirectly enabled by the Slovenian prosecution, which in practice supports ideologically-coloured death threats."


Janša was referring to the slogans "Death to Janšism" carried at some of the earlier anti-government protests prompted by anti-coronavirus measures.



The Austrian authorities have launched investigation of the act of vandalism which has also been condemned by Austrian politicians, including Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser and Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen.

The latter attended the ceremony in the capital of the southern Austrian state together with Slovenian President Borut Pahor.

The presidents of all three umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia have also critical of the act.

01 Oct 2020, 18:49 PM

STA, 1 October 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has been formally indicted of abuse of office over a property sale carried out in 2005, a decision by the prosecution that comes more than six years after an inquiry was launched, Večer reported on Thursday.

Janša is one of the three persons indicted along with two former directors of companies that took part in multiple transactions, Branko Kastelic and Klemen Gantar, according to the newspaper.

The case revolves around a plot of land in the Trenta Valley in the Alps that Janša bought in 1992 and sold in 2005, at the time when he was prime minister the first time, for roughly EUR 131,000, nearly nine times the price he paid.

The buyer, the property developer Eurogradnje, then sold the plot, land along a river accessible only via a footbridge, for EUR 146,000 in 2005 to another company, Imos. The same year, Imos sold Janša a three-room apartment in the centre of Ljubljana for EUR 236,100.

The prosecution claims Eurogradnje paid EUR 100,000 more for the land than it was worth, which was then factored into the price of the apartment.

When Imos went bankrupt, the value of the plot was officially appraised at EUR 17,655, but then the plot was sold for EUR 127,500 at an auction won by Damjan Podjed, raising accusations about the price being artificially inflated to help Janša.

However, in August 2018 Podjed sold the plot to another person for EUR 140,000. Neither Podjed nor the final buyer appear among the suspects for now.

Janša has vehemently denied all allegations of wrongdoing since they first surfaced in the media in 2011. He has stressed that he has made enough money in his career with salaries and multiple bestselling books and has cast the allegations as part of a plot by people behind the scenes to remove him from politics.

The Trenta transaction was one of the allegations against him in a 2011 report by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.

The alleged criminal offence carries an eight-year prison sentence and is subject to a 20-year statute of limitations.

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