Ljubljana related

14 Sep 2019, 12:03 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 13 September

Mladina: Energy sector suffers from excessive pay

STA, 13 September 2019 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that the government does not want to make order in the energy sector and reduce the excessive wages there as the sector is highly politicised, with each political party having their piece of the pie.

"The world of energy in Slovenia is a distinctively political matter. The entire sector could be called a small political paradise," editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says under the headline EUR 100,000 a Month.

According to him, energy should be a competitive business in which the state does not and must not have any connection, because otherwise it does not function under the economic principles.

"It is supposed to be a serious business, with competition, market, large players, fierce fights for every consumer. But it is not. In reality, it is a completely state-owned system, but excluded enough from the state that the public sector rules do not apply to it."

At the same time, it is included in the state enough that politics can influence it. When it comes to distributing influence in the energy sector, political parties are able to make agreements and they cooperate well.

"There is a code of silence among parties and each new party which enters the government quickly gets its own 'energy district'," Repovž adds.

As energy companies in Slovenia are mainly public companies, it would be right if they get completely subordinated to the rules of public sector "in the field of wages for starts. Slovenia has one unusual feature: the highest wages are not paid out in the banking sector, but in energy."

However, Mladina does not believe that the current government has the courage or even the intention to do something about that. "It seems that a majority has already forgotten about their high-flying election promises," concludes the commentary.

Demokracija: Slovenia should learn from Estonia

STA, 12 September - The right-wing weekly Demokracija praises Estonia for its break with Communism, while Slovenia opted for a gradual transition and never really broke with the regime. "Communism was an occupation and Slovenia will not be able to step out of its shadow by ignoring its remnants. The snake needs to be decapitated or it will bring us down once more."

The weekly comments on Thursday on an interview Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid gave the broadcaster TV Slovenija last week in which she specifically said that the country had been occupied by the Soviet Union and did not join the union willingly.

Slovenia and Estonia are similar in many ways, sharing similar fates after World War II. "Both had been occupied, in both countries the Communists first killed most of the bourgeois intelligentsia, industrials and entrepreneurs, and sent the rest to labour camps."

In both countries, power was in the hands of foreigners: in Slovenia in the hands of Serbs and in Estonia in the hands of Russians. They experienced Communist dictatorship and the countries stagnated for half a century.

But after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the independence of the two countries, their ways diverged. Slovenia opted for a gradual transition to market economy and never got rid of its socialist mindset, while Estonia broke off with Socialism overnight.

Slovenia could learn a lot from Estonia. The latter was a much poorer country when it became independent, but is now on Slovenia's tail, the paper says under the headline Why Estonia Became E-stonia.

The different mindsets were the most pronounced in the 2008 crisis, when Slovenia decided for Keynesian measures, while Estonia let the market sort itself out.

Although unemployment in Estonia was higher than in Slovenia during the crisis, the levels are similar now. But Estonia's debt amounts to only 8% of GDP, while Slovenia's is at over 70% of GDP.

All our posts in this series are here

06 Sep 2019, 18:11 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 06 September

Mladina: Health insurance a difficult problem

STA, 6 September 2019 - The left-leaning weekly Mladina argues in its latest editorial that the system of top-up health insurance in Slovenia is an example of systematic corruption par excellence. It is clear that the lobbies and politicians involved will not give up this money easily, the paper says.

Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž is very sceptical of the message coming from the coalition and the Left - that they have found common ground on abolishing top-up health insurance by folding it into mandatory health insurance.

It is not that their intentions are not sincere, it is simply that health insurance is very much an ideological issue, linked with the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) and its predecessors, SKD and SLS, and the opposition Democrats (SDS), he notes.

Since its introduction the top-up health insurance has been an "additional contribution or tax for healthcare" and health insurers have been acting as "some kind of private tax administration collecting only this tax".

Citizens can seemingly choose which insurer they want - initially there were just two insurers, Adriatic Slovenica and Vzajemna, Triglav entered the marked much later. Adriatic Slovenica was initially let into the game only to disguise the true nature of Vzajemna.

The system, conceived by long-term head of the ZZZS national public health insurance fund, Franc Košir, has subsequently turned out to be one of the worst cases of privatisation of public money ever.

"Vzajemna seemed like the best idea in the world. Its founding was overseen by ZZZS itself." It was conceived as a company whose manager and shareholder becomes anyone who pays the insurance and thus becomes a member. And formally, this still holds true today. "Can anyone even object to this concept?"

But in fact, the legislation was amended already when Vzajemna was founded to allow a group of people manage a part of public funds and it has remained so until this day.

"Vzajemna is controlled by the same lobbies today only the people who run things are different."

Its powers expand beyond any political borders today and stretch into the business world, with the former CEO of poultry producer Perutnina Ptuj, Roman Glaser, holding a great deal of power.

Vzajemna also has some EUR 100 million of reserves in deposits and other financial investments and can invest them in line with the wishes of those who have power.

"It is therefore clear that all these lobbies and lobbyists, hired consultants and also politicians and public office holders work against any government that attempts to sort out this issue. It has been so for the last sixteen years. It is such easy money that nobody will give it up easily," Repovž says under the headline It's Systemic Corruption.

Reporter: Gov’t staffing scandal deserves a closer look

STA, 2 September 2019 - Looking at the downfall of Brane Kralj, the secretary general of the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), the right-leaning weekly Reporter says that this is Šarec's first serious mistake since taking office and a signal from networks of power that he should not be too single-minded.

"Nobody is innocent in the political drama that unfolded last week. But it appears this was a carefully planned skirmish involving networks that control state property, whereby Šarec received a rap on the knuckles for the first time," the paper says in Final Warning.

The scandal shows that the government is engaged in the same sort of political staffing as its predecessors. "Prime Minister Šarec cannot say any longer that he is different, that such things do not happen under his watch."

Delving into the details of the fateful call Kralj made to the chief supervisor of the Official Gazette, Irena Prijović, Reporter says DeSUS president Karl Erjavec soliciting the call is less likely than the theory that the chief supervisor of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), Karmen Dieter, told Kralj to contact Prijović directly.

"Irena Prijović is not a woman that would falter as soon as she gets a call from the secretary general of a ruling party, and neither is she a flawless Virgin Mary. Her statements about 'brutal pressure' have to be taken with a dollop of salt: Prijović is considered the right hand of Borut Jamnik, the greying wonder boy of the (para)state sector, the nephew of the once influential SocDem politician Breda Pečan."

The commentator describes Jamnik and Prijović as having "literally kidnapped corporate governance", weaving a web of power that has political backing from the SocDems. "They are both political appointees and for years they have been wandering from one post in state-owned companies to the other."

"Since Jamnik has grown over politicians' heads, they have clipped his wings and now he is striking back. The Official Gazette scandal is probably revenge for loss of influence at Telekom Slovenije," Reporter says.

Looking at the uncertainty in autumn, with the looming passage of the budget bills and the Left making its support for the minority government conditional on health insurance reform, the paper says the Official Gazette scandal was "a warning of sorts to the prime minister that networks will bring down his government if he is too single-minded".

All our posts in this series are here

31 Aug 2019, 14:55 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 30 August

Mladina: Support for the Left’s spending proposals

STA, 30 August 2019 - The left-leaning weekly Mladina criticises the government's dismissive attitude towards the Left's (Levica) spending proposals, saying that instead of preparing for the global economic slowdown and possible recession as numerous other countries are doing, Slovenia has been recklessly ignoring indicators of the coming downturn.

The draft budget for 2020 is lacklustre and "threatens the country's stability in the short run if the international situation changes", editor-in-chief Grega Repovž writes in Friday's editorial The Government's Grave Mistake.

So instead of wondering if the draft budget will be endorsed in parliament or not, the question that should be asked it how to improve it.

The Marjan Šarec government has been haughtily rejecting any ideas that would prepare Slovenia for the worst-case scenario, including investments in new social housing.

"Apart from supporting the construction of the second rail track - which benefits only the port of Koper - the state has not planned any major investments or secured any safety net for companies which will be affected by Germany's economy cooling down.

"In the government's first year in power there has been no considerable progress in any key areas, not a step has been taken to enable society and the economy to start keeping up with growing new climate standards which actually constitute an industrial revolution."

Saying that the 2020 budget draft would be appropriate for 2019, but not for the year of economic downturn, Mladina notes that all the progressive parts of the coalition agreement have been left forgotten - healthcare privatisation has not been curbed, on the contrary, insurers are raising premiums with the government turning a blind eye.

It seems that the state will continue down this path in 2020, while Germany, on the other hand, is getting ready for the possibility of another financial crisis by investing in education, social housing, digital technologies, infrastructure and jobs of the future.

It is only right that the Left has decided not to support the budget bill for 2020 and 2021 if the coalition does not endorse its proposal to abolish top-up health insurance.

The government's dismissive attitude towards the Left's proposals for ideological reasons needs to stop since those plans are the projects currently carried out by progressive and prudent countries.

Slovenia still has time to change course and prevent its economic and political collapse, but the magazine concludes on a rather pessimistic note, saying that the faces in politics are new, but their attitudes and deeds have been seen before and do not inspire trust.

Reporter: When Slovenia will get access to the White House?

STA, 26 August - Wondering where Slovenia is on the global map, the right-leaning weekly Reporter says in its latest commentary that Slovenia would perhaps get the opportunity for one of its officials crossing the doorstep of the White House now that PM Marjan Šarec has announced plans for a second reactor at the NEK nuclear power plant.

In the commentary headlined Washington-Beijing-Moscow, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla initially notes that Šarec will pay in the autumn an official visit to Moscow, not Washington.

"It is probably also because of Slovenia's pro-Russian foreign policy that no Slovenian politician crossed the doorstep of the White House in the last eight years."

Even in the last three years, with the US being presided by Donald Trump, and him having as many as four Slovenians by his side - his wife Melania, son Barron and his father-in-law and mother-in law Viktor and Amalija Knavs - the door has remained firmly shut.

But Šurla wonders if Trump, who is always ready to do business, will change his mind now that Šarec has announced the construction of a new reactor at NEK, which operates with US technology.

"If the deal gets won by their Westinghouse, Slovenia would probably get something in return. Something more concrete than just a courtesy visit to the White House?", concludes the commentary.

All the posts in this series can be found here, while all our stories on Slovenian politics are here

24 Aug 2019, 09:00 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 23 August

Mladina: Catholic Church Should Not Promote Domobranci

STA - Mladina takes a look at the emergence of organisations celebrating quislings after the fall of the Berlin Wall in Eastern Europe, saying the Catholic Church is behind them to cover up its own collaboration with the Nazi and Fascist occupying forces before and during World War II.

The left-leaning weekly takes as a starting point for Friday's editorial an invitation to a commemoration organised by "New Slovenian Testament, an association which promotes the doings of the Domobranci home-guard during WWII".

In the majority of European countries, with the exception of Austria and Italy, which have not undergone denazification, such associations "do not and cannot exist".

"Eastern Europe is quite another story. After the fall of Communism, associations promoting quislings emerged in many countries," says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.

He notes that Croatia's ruling party HDZ does not hide its fondness of the Ustashe, and Slovenia's right is firmly connected with organisations celebrating the quislings.

In both Slovenia and Croatia, the Church was the most responsible for the emergence of the quislings - the Domobranci and the Ustashe and for collaboration.

Repovž says that 80 years on, it needs to be clearly said that the Church is behind organisations such as New Slovenian Testament.

"The Church is again abusing the Domobranci and their descendants, their pain, the actual pain, which results from the Communists' post-WWII doings, and also the pain which comes from the inability to face historical facts".

"The Domobranci soldiers were national traitors, but they were also the victims of the Church and politics at the time."

And just as it used to lure innocent people into the Domobranci home-guard and the Catholic militias through its power as institution, the Church is now similarly abusing them to conceal the historical facts, says Repovž.

Just like its role during WWII cannot be limited to Bishop Gregorij Rožman (1883-1959) attending the Domobranci oath to Hitler in Ljubljana, its role at commemorations such as the one organised by New Slovenian Testament is not innocent.

"The leadership of the Slovenian Church abuses religion, believers, Domobranci survivors and their descendants so that it can continue to blur historical facts.

"It is doing the same in dealing with sexual abuse. It simply ignores facts, abusing the power of faith and the trust of believers," Repovž says under the headline In the Name of Mary, the Queen of Slovenians.

Demokracija: Private property in peril as socialism makes comeback

STA - Expressing indignation over the comeback of socialist ideas, including in the west, the latest editorial of  Demokracija points to the state supervision of privately-owned forests as proof that "the worm of socialism remains nested deep in the brains of Slovenians".

The right-leaning weekly paper's editor-in-chief Jože Biščak takes the ongoing issues with the culling of wild animals and the protests against the increasing use of off-road vehicles in forests as examples to argue that private property as a basic tenet of capitalism is under attack.

While over 75% of forests in Slovenia are in private ownership, the government is using a number of regulations to claim the right to serve as the only righteous guardian of forests as a common good, a typically socialist supposition.

"The framer, who is also the owner of the forest, does not have the right to settle his accounts with wolves that are slaughtering his sheep and goats ... He is not even allowed to set wild animal traps on his own property."

The same applies when it comes to forest visitors, who need to be granted free access to walk, and pick mushrooms and fruits no matter if the owner agrees or not.

The owners merely have duties, Biščak says, arguing it would not be surprising if things once get to a point when "an ecosocialist will file charges against the owner for getting bitten by a tick".

Meanwhile, off-road vehicles are reportedly destroying the forests, endangering the hikers, scaring game etc., but the only ones that do not get asked for an opinion are the forest owners who may perhaps be using such vehicles to supervise their property, Demokracija's editor says.

Biščak, who claims that "this government is blurring the line between what is state-owned, public and private", goes on to point "to the loud cheering of the media mainstream when inspectors mount an offensive an announce how many private entrepreneurs they have fined".

"One needs to have a sick mind to celebrate something like that. If the share of the 'swindlers' is high, this means something is wrong with taxation and regulations. Disregard for laws is a phenomenon that accompanies any unjust state," Biščak says.

He argues under Don't Steal, the State Does Not Like Competition that people who get robbed by the state should only be expected to look for ways to do the same to the state in order to survive.

17 Aug 2019, 10:30 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 16 August

Mladina: Slovenia missed opportunity to thrive on elderly care

STA, 16 August 2019 - The latest editorial in the left-wing magazine Mladina blames politicians for Slovenia missing the chance to make elderly care a business opportunity as a result of which the system is falling apart, while the initiative is being taken by foreign multinationals.

In a piece headlined Old Age is Business, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž recalls how a decade ago Mladina proposed Slovenia take up the business called old age, turning care for a quality life of an ageing population into a whole new industry.

"That we should have started building adjusted housing developments, created a supply and care sector, developed specialised hospital services and healthcare centres. This way we would have created a whole new business and job sector, which unlike tourism lasts throughout the year and not just a few summer months."

Repovž argues that even less qualified workers could find jobs in such a sector, which would create high value added and provide a boost to the architecture and construction business as the country could become a specialist in construction for the elderly, a sizeable, active and financially strong population, especially in places like Germany or Austria.

He says that Slovenia has plenty of lovely spots where residential estates for senior citizens could be built, giving an impetus to the services industry catering for a "very agile population, incredibly inquisitive and brave".

Instead, Slovenia is a country in which 25,000 people are waiting for a room in a pension home, while nurses and carers are leaving for better paid jobs abroad, poor pensioners are leaving for pension homes in Croatia and foreign multinationals are building pension homes in Slovenia.

"This is because our politicians are ignorant, tending their own little garden patch and incapable of a single ambitious act outside their safe zone of the existing (...)

"Slovenia has done nothing in the field for more than 20 years. The last pension home was erected by the state 15 years ago, which piece of information is horrifying, but telling."

Demokracija: Worried about social surveillance

STA, 14 August 2019 - Governments in Western democracies, including Slovenia's government and NGOs, would be happy to legislate the ghastly Chinese system of social surveillance termed Social Credit System, the right-wing magazine Demokracija argues in its latest commentary.

It says totalitarianisms have always wanted to have total control of their citizens' lives, which was technically impossible until the end of the 20th century.

But this has changed with the dawn of artificial intelligence, surveillance cameras and social networks, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says on Wednesday.

"Although the situation in Europe is not as bad as in China yet, there are signs that citizens are being pigeonholed to bad and good ones."

The Slovenian government rewards, that is pays with taxpayer money, those NGOs which spy on co-citizens and report on them, says the weekly.

It notes the Faculty of Social Sciences is already tasked with reporting on people on social media, and recalls that those taking part in the ZLOvenija portal during the 2015 migration crisis were labelled racists, Nazis and xenophobes.

Biščak also takes issue with the recent broad interpretation of hate speech by Supreme Court judges, saying it is worrying, whereas the left welcomed it as a step in the right direction.

"What is missing is a public government system which will record heretic deviations of free-thinking individuals and undermine the bad ones in everyday life.

"The Chinese reality is not far from Slovenia any more, with a public and government-approved black list of disobedient and too freedom-loving people as state enemies already knocking on the door."

If such surveilance is put in place, "there will be no place to hide, even the panic room will be under surveillance", Biščak says under the headline Panic Room, wondering whether "we will let this happen".

Other articles in this series can be found here

10 Aug 2019, 10:45 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 09 August

Mladina: Socio-economic divide feeding irrationality in US, Britain

STA, 9 August 2019 - Reflecting on the reasons behind the irrational choices of voters in developed countries like the US and Britain, the latest editorial of the left-leaning weekly paper Mladina highlights the neoliberal dismantling of public healthcare and education. It also expresses serious concern about the future ramifications of aggressive individualism and hate speech.

Drawing on Willaim Davies's book Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World, Mladina's editor-in-chief Grega Repovž speaks of a coalition between an impoverished and ill-educated class and an increasing number of elderly people experiencing psychological and physical pain.

The exploitation of this anger and pain by populists with fascist tendencies and the disastrous consequences this leads to shows how important it is for societies to fight poverty and above all preserve a high level of public education and healthcare, Repovž says in the commentary entitled Consequences.

Also belonging on this essential list is the need to ruthlessly fight hate speech. While the US and Great Britain are already paying a high price, politically and socially, for the neoliberal destruction of public education and healthcare, "the long-term consequences of hate speech are not clear yet".

"We can't even begin to imagine what kind of society lies in store for us once the majority will feature generations which are growing up with a language that is hateful and brutal and which see this brutality as something entirely normal."

Repovž also speaks of an extremely ego-driven new generation growing up on social networks, "which is not a reproach, since this is truly becoming a condition for an individual's social positioning, this is the way friendships and love are made today, this how jobs and life goals are sought".

Reporter: Staffing at state-owned enterprises

STA, 5 August 2019 - The right-wing magazine Reporter writes about staffing at state-owned companies in the latest editorial under the headline Dream Job, arguing that dream jobs in Slovenia are still those at state-run enterprises.

Silvester Šurla writes that no government has been unable to resist the temptation to name its people to top positions in state-owned companies.

"The supervisory board gets replaced, then the management and new positions and jobs are given to the loyal and deserving."

As one case in point Šurla names Telekom Slovenije, which it says involves too many interests to be privatised; the company will obviously remain state-owned until the government is forced by the strained situation in the market, to sell it, as was the case with Gorenje.

He writes that the upcoming shareholders' meeting on 30 August will appoint two new supervisory board members, and the supervisory board will appoint the new CEO.

"Even though an UAE tax resident, the notorious businessman Andrej Vizjak, whom his ex-wife is accusing in the media of not paying alimony for their daughter, is very keen on becoming a new supervisor or even the chief supervisor, the proposal for his appointment has been withdrawn.

"This way the plan fell through to appoint as new Telekom boss Matej Potokar, formerly the CEO of the Slovenian subsidiary of Microsoft."

Šurla goes on to write about Petrol CEO Tomaž Berločnik's dealings and recent replacements at the Bank Assets Management Company, Slovenian Sovereign Holding and the energy group HSE, among others.

"Since the government coalition comprises as many as five parties and each one of them wants its share of the pie, this makes the staffing jigsaw puzzle quite complicated. Apart from politicians', there are also the interests of lobbies, various PR agencies such as Pristop and other influential big shots like Gregor Golobič ... There are more similar opportunists, also on the right. These are people who cannot survive in the market and depend existentially on dealings with state-owned companies."

03 Aug 2019, 11:14 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 02 August

Mladina: Dnevnik-Večer Merger

STA, 2 August 2019 - The weekly Mladina comments on the merger of the publishers of the daily newspapers Dnevnik in Večer, both welcoming and regretting the move which it sees as means to preserve the printed media in Slovenia, which are facing numerous challenges brought by new trends.

The merger is a reasonable decision by the publishers' owners, which was carried out surprisingly wisely and thoughtfully, and which strengthens the position of both Dnevnik and Večer at least in the medium term, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says on Friday.

On the other hand, he also regrets the move because it comes as a consequence of the declining readership of the printed media and changed lifestyle in modern societies.

"Although the media compete with each other, it is very important for all of them that as many people as possible continue to read serious media. Decline of any serious media is bad for the rest of them, as it impacts the reading habits of the nation."

Mladina argues that the Slovenian state has done practically nothing for the media in the last 30 years. "They simply did not want to see the importance of (critical) media for the normality of the society."

Politics has treated the national broadcaster mostly badly, and it is almost incredible that something has been left of it at all. But journalists are not blameless either, as they raised their voice only when they were personally threatened, Repovž adds.

Actually, the government of Marjan Šarwec was the first one to make a move, introducing lower taxes for the media and books, and announcing a new system for distributing state subsidies, which have so far been ending up in the hands of harmful media.

It is very hard for serious media to survive on the small market like Slovenia, but this is also true for culture, sport and education. A large part of the surplus generated in these fields is a consequence of personal altruism.

"Problems in all fields are also a consequence of the unwillingness to admit that we are a small country. All fields which are limited by the language are in a very difficult situation. These, of course, include the media," concludes the commentary headlined Dnevnik and Večer.

Reporter: Who benefits from big infrastructure projects?

STA, 29 July 2019 - The right-leaning magazine Reporter writes about delays in public contracting for large infrastructure projects in the latest editorial, asserting that PM Marjan Šarec should take action to prevent a new TEŠ6.

"They want to rob us blind again," writes editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla under the headline Red Alarm, arguing that the attempts to overturn the chosen contractor in the public calls for the construction of the second tube of the Karavanke motorway tunnel and the Koper-Divača rail project show Slovenia has not learned anything from the 1 billion-plus project to build generator 6 at the Šoštanj coal-fired plant.

Šurla says that the only goal of the delays in the public calls is that the right people get the job in the end - that is construction companies controlled by Stojan Petrič, Janez Škrabec and Stanko Polanič.

"Why public calls if everything is said to have been agreed behind the scenes? As long as it is pro forma, a public call because there has to be one? In two construction projects alone, (Karavanke and the Glinščica bridge) local cronies could bleed us of EUR 25 million, the difference to the two other cheapest bids."

Šurla quotes rumours saying that the management of the state-run motorway company DARS could be dismissed if Petrič's Kolektor is not chosen as the contractor in the end.

"The Idrija mogul is exerting huge pressure through his lobbyists, and Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek is said to have succumbed to his charm. A replacement of DARS supervisors has been announced for late August, which could lead to the management's replacement.

"If in exchange for keeping their posts, DARS yields in to pressure in the end and pick Kolektor despite the much higher cost, this would also augur ill for the taxpayer in the case of the second rail track, at a project at least ten times larger in value."

Šurla says that the developments should send alarm bells ringing at least in the office of PM Marjan Šarec. "Unless he pounds the table and keeps pretending he is not in charge like Borut Pahor did in the same office, we will see a new TEŠ 6."

All our posts in this series can be found here, while you can keep up-to-date on Slovenia politics here, and find the daily headlines here

27 Jul 2019, 09:35 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 26 July 2019

Mladina:  Croatia's reported tourism decline should worry Slovenia

STA, 26 July 2019 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that the reports on an alleged decline in the number of tourists in Croatia is not something Slovenia should be happy about, not least for the sake of decency. If this is true, this is actually a reason for concern, as Slovenian tourism is closely connected to tourism in Croatia.

Slovenia bets on tourism and a possible decline in tourist visits in Croatia could reflect on Slovenia, because it generates a lot of its tourism-related revenue with people who only make a stop in Slovenia while on their way to Croatia.

Even those who are in Slovenia for a couple of hours at least buy a motorway toll sticker, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says in the commentary Damn Croatians.

"In other words: we are at least partly tied to Croatia's success in tourism economy-wise. This is why we actually should wish that Croatian tourism is as successful as possible, because this will make us more successful too."

When Germany announces a decline in economic growth, everybody in Slovenia (justifiably) speak about and analyse the possible consequences on the Slovenian economy. The same response should be expected to the reports from Croatia, as Slovenia is much more connected with the success of its tourism than Slovenians are willing to admit.

Mladina thus notes that it is detrimental for both countries that they have not been able to make alliances after gaining independence. It would be easier for Slovenia and Croatia to better control and direct migration, and to act as allies within the EU.

In the fields of science, art and tourism development, Croatia is a country Slovenia should connect with. For example, the university medical centres in Zagreb and Ljubljana could cooperate fruitfully because both countries are too small to develop many fields of medicine alone.

"Of course, the most tempting thing at this point is to debate what share of the blame individual countries and politics bear for this situation. But this debate, running almost thirty years since the two countries gained independence, has led us nowhere."

Repovž notes that in Europe, both Slovenians and Croatians are perceived as immature, quarrelsome and nitpicky, which is why normalising the relations with Croatia should be a serious objective for Slovenian politics.

Demokracija: Right under siege by a Left bent on destruction

STA, 25 July 2019 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija claims in Thursday's commentary that the right in Slovenia is under siege, as evidenced from a series of charges the magazine and its editor face due to incitement of hatred.

"They are cultural and just, we on the right are the source of all evil. This is evidence of a cult of hatred. The characters and acts that they are fabricating and projecting onto us are created in their heads, not ours. We are rotten persons for them, instigators of hatred and xenophobes because we love our country."

"Of course we're not any of what they make us out to be. All these horrible shows and horrible things planted on us take shape in them, in the twisted psyches of progressive evildoers," the commentator says in Us and Them.

It argues that this hatred is very palpable and felt at every step. "First they brand us with words, then comes violence, which is then leveraged by politicians, their officials and bureaucrats, their hereditary allies, the travelling mafia in the form of Antifa."

"In fact, they are the most intolerant group of people ... they have sent a tsunami of evil upon us and taken the right to be the sole arbiters not just of their thoughts and actions but also our thoughts and conduct. The result is always the same, regardless of circumstance: we are evil, they are not."

The commentator concludes that the right has been tolerant for too long which is why violence against is has become commonplace. "For us violence is a horrible thing, the idea about armed coup against the government unimaginable, but they have revolution and violent coups in their blood. There is us. And there is them."

All our posts in this series can be found here, while you can keep up-to-date on Slovenia politics here, and find the daily headlines here

20 Jul 2019, 09:14 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 19 July 2019

Mladina: New social order key to tackling climate change

STA, 19 July 2019 - Reflecting on efforts against climate change, the left-wing weekly Mladina says the current piecemeal measures - raising awareness about plastic, car and air transport, meat etc.- are welcome. However, to truly tackle the situation, it will be necessary to change the social order and dethrone work as the concept central to everybody's identity and survival.

The weekly paper's editor in chief Grega Repovž points to preliminary findings that many forms of work, consisting of the workers driving to work, executing their tasks and returning home, entail higher costs - environmental expressed in material costs - than the workers' wages.

As long as work continues to have its current social status, as long as it is a source of survival, a measure of an individual's success in life, their social status, as long as it stays on the pedestal where it was put by both capitalism and socialism, truly meaningful change that would reduce the burdens placed on the environment is not possible.

While deciding to reduce the temperature in one's flat in the winter by one degree, to adopt a zero waste approach when buying fruits and vegetables, to only use air transport twice a year etc. are all very positive steps, they are not truly radical in the sense needed to really tackle climate change.

"It is necessary to become more radical, to demand a new social order ... One thing is clear: redefining the position of work means a redefinition of society. As soon as an individual's life fulfilment will no longer be tied to work, everything will change.

"The worst thing here is that work mostly does not deliver this much expected fulfilment to the everyday individual, it only offers a future promise (it is in fact all a kind of faith in work), only to lead at one point in life to the resigned acceptance of things as they are: working in exchange for pay ... in a way that determines the rhythm and manner of the life of individuals, of families, of society."

Demokracija: Labelling Identitarians Extremists a Horrific Attack on Freedom

STA, 18 July 2019 – The right-wing weekly Demokracija takes issue in its latest editorial with Slovenian mainstream media reporting widely on the Identitarian movement being classified as right-wing extremist in Germany. It expresses shock at why people problematise charity being made conditional on ethnicity, and issues what amounts to a call to arms against the left.

While ignoring Europol reports on terrorism showing that "(far)leftists are a bigger threat to Europe than (far)rightists", the "mainstream media (MSM)" pushed the news from Germany and served a whole load of nonsense in the process, says Jože Biščak, the editor of the right-wing magazine co-owned by the opposition Democrats (SDS).

He highlights a report by the website of RTV Slovenija that "sees a security threat in the Identitarian movement 'offering food to the homeless that contains pork, whereby it excludes Muslims'".

"Večer meanwhile says the Slovenian Identitarians have been showing increasing support for the National Bloc group, 'which is following the model from abroad to highlight its support to the vulnerable and poor - but only if they have the right national, religious and ethnic background.'"

"Anyone who loves freedom at least a little, was horrified. Attention! The Identitarians use their own money to buy food and help, they do this at their own expense and in their own free time, but because the leftists have no influence over whom the former help and what kind of food they distribute, they designate this group as far-right."

Biščak says the leftists are unable to comprehend that they cannot interfere with the right of "individuals...to help whom they wish" and are thus "sending the state after the Identitarians", "having it in their DNA to want to control other people's property, which is unconstitutional".

While arguing that unconstitutional actions have also become an everyday affair under the Marjan Šarec government, Biščak says the right had been passive for too long, allowing the left to do as it pleased.

He points to those killed in summary executions after WWII and the silencing of their families, to people who remain judges despite having violated human rights in the past, while he also speaks of "the importing of new voters from the Balkans" and of "opening the door widely to illegal migrants as if our fate as a nation is sealed, a collapse inevitable, and a victory of the primitive hordes at our door unavoidable".

"We were as if under a spell and seemed mad, but let us not forget that, once we count the number of people among our ranks, there are still more of us, the good, than them, the bad, in this beautiful part of the old continent.

"We only need to wake up and push back the left, which is destroying all that we found sacred and allowed us to survive as a nation. Let us for once show, for god's sake, that we can do more than just pull in our horns and squeal, that we can also bark loudly and what is more, bite strongly," Biščak says in the commentary entitled A Dog that Barks Also Needs to Bite.

All our posts in this series can be found here, while you can keep up-to-date on Slovenia politics here, and find the daily headlines here

05 Jul 2019, 11:30 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 05 June 2019

Mladina: Eastern Europe did not deserve any key EU posts

STA, 5 July 2019 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that the countries from Eastern Europe have no business lamenting the fact that none of its representatives have been tipped to get one of the top four jobs in the EU, as they do not deserve any respect.

"In the days following the selection of the leading staff of the European Union for the next five years, it could also be heard in Slovenia how bad it is that there are no candidates from Eastern Europe for any of the posts.

"That it would be symbolic and good as a gesture of respect to the new members. Respect? Why? The Eastern European countries have been a great disappointment of Europe, turning out to be fascistic, nationalistic, introvert, narrow-minded and democratically immature fifteen or twenty years after the enlargement."

In the commentary headlined On the Right Side of History, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž wonders whether Poland, Hungary, Slovakia or Croatia deserve any respect, adding that "this Eastern Europe is nothing but a disappointment."

Last year, Slovenia escaped by a hair becoming a part of this part of Eastern Europe owing to the maturity of a majority of political parties and the clearly expressed will of the civil society, he adds.

Referring to Marjan Šarec being appointed prime minister in a minority government, the commentator says that with Janez Janša of the opposition Democrats (SDS) in power, "today we would be a part of the problem and one of the countries which were pushed out from the so-called core Europe this week."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron played out a game which exposed the Eastern European nationalists, including Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, whose mouths are otherwise full of Europe.

"What is being formed is not automatically a Europe which we would like. We will perhaps get some headaches. But nevertheless, we are watching an attempt at stemming the growth of populism. This is good. Slovenia has fortunately found itself on the right side."

This is so because Slovenia has a normal, democratic government, and partly because it has the euro, and because Šarec, like Macron, became a liberal on the European scale at the right moment. "We have no serious influence on the developments, but we are on the right side of history. It could have been completely different."

Demokracija: New media legislation introduces censorship

STA, 4 July 2019 – Left-leaning politicians in Slovenia have no sense of responsibility and show no respect for the rule of law, the right-wing weekly Demokracija says in its latest editorial. They set the boundaries for what is allowed and now, with the new media bill, they will also decide on what constitutes hate speech, says editor-in-chief Jože Biščak.

According to the draft media bill, a state official called the media inspector will decide on what constitutes media-sponsored inciting of hatred and intolerance.

This person will be able to order a media outlet to remove certain content and even slap it with a fine.

"This is not only an inadmissible interference with the autonomous editorial policy but an interference with the freedom of speech from the position of political power," says Biščak.

It is not surprising that the Slovenian Journalists' Association (DNS) welcomed this form of censorship.

First, it welcomed it because it will directly decide on what is appropriate and what is inappropriate content and second, because the DNS has shown many times it could not care less about media freedom.

Most recently it illustrated this by supporting Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's call to state-owned companies not to advertise in certain media outlets.

"It is more than obvious that Slovenia is again or (still) deeply in the Communist totalitarian system that tramples on human rights, of which the freedom of speech is the most important," Biščak says, adding that the deep state does not even bother to hide this anymore.

"The question is whether liberation from these chains is even possible in a peaceful way," concludes the commentary headlined In the Beginning Was the Word.

All our posts in this series can be found here, while you can keep up-to-date on Slovenia politics here, and find the daily headlines here

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