The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 21 June 2019
Mladina: Concerns Over Abanka Privatisation
STA, 21 June 2019 - Commenting on the recent sale of the country's third largest bank Abanka to the NKBM bank, the left-wing weekly Mladina believes that this step will probably lead to adverse consequences, with the government having wasted the last opportunity to secure any kind of financial backbone for the country during the next financial crash.
"Due to this decision, Slovenia will break (again) more easily and quickly upon the arrival of the next (and the next) financial crisis. Not the country, but its economy, because there will be no vascular system any more through which the state could help the economy."
Pointing out that during any financial meltdown, when the capital of foreign banks is retreating at a rapid pace, countries need to provide stability for their economies, the editorial says that the easiest way to do so is through state banks.
"In 2009, EUR 3.5 billion left Slovenia very quickly, more than EUR 2.5 billion in the first few months. Estonia, not having any domestic banks, broke immediately. Croatia as well. But not Slovenia," highlights editor-in-chief Grega Repovž, adding that was the main reason the country's economy started showing signs of improvement already in 2011.
But then things went awry when Borut Pahor, preoccupied with his public image, got scared and stopped the recapitalisation of banks, concludes the commentary under the headline The Traces of Some Ignorance.
Demokracija: Warnings on Climate Change a Scam
STA, 20 June 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija denies in its commentary on Thursday the existence of climate change, saying that its only purpose is to provide state funds for those making money off warnings of imminent catastrophe.
Demokracija editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says under the headline Fairytale about World's End that the Fridays For Future campaign is nothing but a way for students to avoid school on Fridays.
Warnings about the end of the world have been growing increasingly severe, but the end of the world does not come, Biščak says.
Natural disasters are a mainstay of human history, only reports about them travelled much slower than they do today, therefore it seems that their frequency has increased. "And climate change was not blamed for every fire, like it is now."
"If I exaggerate a bit: a person gets a fever (of course, a consequence of global warming), their coordination deteriorates and they drop a match. And there you go, a fire caused by climate change."
People are easily manipulated. "It's logical. It is much easier to believe dramatic forecasts about the end of the world and humanity than (fairytales) that people will continue to live on Earth for a long time."
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 14 June 2019
Mladina: New EU Core Emerging Post-Brexit, Slovenia Should Optimise Its Position
STA, 14 June 2019 - The left-leaning weekly paper Mladina argues on Friday that the EU will in fact breathe much more easily without Great Britain. New constellations are likely to emerge in the wake of its departure and Slovenia should make sure to be among the core EU countries that take a step forward integration and policy-wise, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says.
It actually looks like optimism is making a comeback in political analytical centres in the EU's capitals after a long time, Repovž says, arguing Europe will simply become a much more flexible alliance without Great Britain.
He speaks of signs that a two-tier EU is emerging, with the second tier involving Eastern European countries - an exception being Slovenia as a member of the eurozone.
The eurozone is looking like a bypass that can "enable most normal European countries to start pursuing more serious policies which are blocked today in particular by Eastern European nationalist and backward populists".
Slovenia is being referred to as a part of this emerging coalition, as part of what is being called the EU's core, "but the question is whether our government is aware of this", Repovž says in Core of Europe In the Making.
Slovenia should optimise its position and have an influence on the agenda of this coalition, which is why Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who has no serious diplomats or experienced international analysts among his ranks, needs to move fast and form a strong team around him.
"Why are we warning about this? In order to avoid hearing excuses again in a few years about how it was only possible to implement what was received in e-mails from Brussels and Berlin and to not feel embarrassed about the amateurs we had in power when the future was being designed," Repovž says, invoking the example of the 2013 bank bailout.
Demokracija: Interior Minister Should Resign Over Illegal Migration
STA, 13 June 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija calls on Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar to resign for being unable to provide for security of locals in border areas, listing several cases of unpleasant encounters between illegal migrants and locals, including a recent incident involving an 11-year-old girl.
Editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says on Thursday Poklukar bragged about the Slovenian police having successfully provided for security at the recent Three Seas Initiative summit.
"When the high-profile guests were adopting the closing Ljubljana Declaration to set up an investment fund ..., a drama was almost simultaneously unfolding on a bridge over the river Reka."
An 11-year-old was crossing it by bike in the area of Ilirska Bistrica in the south-west when she heard voices under the bridge, and stopped.
A group of men then started yelling and throwing stones at her, with one stone hitting her hand. Her parents reported the incident to the police, Biščak recalls.
The majority of police officers were protecting well-mannered Three Seas Initiative guests, "while the southern border remains full of holes like Swiss cheese".
If border control was stricter and better and if legislation was more in favour of Slovenians than foreigners, the illegal migrants would not have come that far into Slovenian territory, they would have been intercepted on the border and swiftly returned where they came from, to Croatia, Bosnia and further to the Arab world.
Biščak says the girl, a recently abducted pensioner, a wine grower whose van was stolen from his courtyard or any other person whose property has been destroyed by illegals would find it hard to agree with Poklukar that the police is in control of the situation.
What happened in Western Europe, is now starting to happen in Slovenia - while it began with small thefts and fights, today those who came to Europe a few years ago are claiming entire areas where they enforce their religion-based rules and where the police does not dare to go any more.
Biščak says such areas, controlled by Muslims and ruled by Sharia law, could well emerge in Slovenia, adding "Islam is not a religion, it is a spiritual, judicial and political system, and is not compatible with any western democracy".
While some countries such as Italy and Hungary have managed to secure their border against illegals, the Slovenian government has proved completely incapable of taking action.
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 07 June 2019
Mladina: Slovenia taking the wrong approach in selection a candidate for EU commissioner
STA, 7 June 2019 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says on Friday that instead of considering how to affect the future of EU politics by selecting a suitable European commissioner candidate, Slovenia is simply discussing who will be its next commissioner and will probably continue underestimating the influence of the post.
The editorial points out that in 2014, the then government made a fool of itself when it nominated Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek to damage her political status and get rid of her by exposing her lack of English language skills and professional knowledge.
The ridicule attempt backfired, with the whole country and not just Bratušek being laughed at by the EU, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says under the headline “Commissioner”.
Slovenia's political influence was weakened and the second attempt did not amend the situation. The decision to nominate a political newbie Violeta Bulc, who was regarded as the then Prime Minister Cerar's confidant, was similarly absurd.
She tried to navigate the EU waters, but lacked basic Brussels-speak skills of the art of subtext. "During her term, Slovenia recorded a great deal of political losses, from the Commission's attitude toward the arbitration dispute to its never-ending demands for the privatisation of state assets, including the NLB bank, Adria Airways, Fotona.
"All those cases show the actions and decisions of the Commission, which will significantly affect the development and the strength of this country in the long term," says the editorial.
Those incidents have also branded Slovenia as another "nation of some kind of characters", Easterners, which does not grasp the significance of the commissioner post. "A commissioner is a powerful politician, diplomat, who runs a certain sector but also acts in their country's interest at the Commission level in a smart and skilful way."
This unspoken aspect is key to the nomination procedures of the other EU countries. The candidates' professional skills certainly raise their political status, but their international experience and diplomatic skills are even more essential, Mladina points out.
"It's high time Slovenia left the club of countries which don't understand the dimensions of this post. Unfortunately, things are not looking good," concludes the editorial, adding that there is a shortage of suitable candidates.
Reporter: What the EU vote could mean for the Slovenia’s next general election
STA, 3 June 2019 - The right-wing magazine Reporter offers an analysis of the EU election results in the latest editorial, finding that the right bloc is no closer to power than it was a year ago and that the conservatives would have to "cut the Gordian knot" unless they want the left to continue in power.
Under the headline Game of Thrones on the Right editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla finds that the EU vote has not significantly changed the balance of power between the left and right, and that the electorate is sill tipped slightly to the left, although a bit less than in the 2018 general election.
He notes that the Democratic Party (SDS), which won the election convincingly on a joint ticket with the People's Party (SLS), mustered roughly as much of the vote as it did five years ago when it ran on its own.
It was mainly the SLS which benefited from the joint ticket, because Franc Bogovič would not have been re-elected MEP if the party stood on its own, while the joint ticket in a way also benefited the SDS, because otherwise its victory would have been less convincing, writes Šurla.
"The SDS is now trying to convince the public that the joint ticket was an investment in the next general election so that it would be easier, if the SLS returned to parliament, to form a right government.
"However, the speculation that this would be made possible by Marjan Podobnik, risen from the dead after twenty years of political abstinence, is, given his political baggage from the 1990s, a bit far fetched."
Šurla goes on to say that the concept of Spring parties is rather passe in 2019; after the failure of the pro-life GOD party last year, this year it was Bernard Brščič's Homeland League (DOM) which flopped, partly due to SDS leader Janez Janša, which Brščič will not easily forget.
"The state of latent tension" also continues between the SDS and New Slovenia (NSi). For the right losing one MEP term Janša blamed NSi leader Matej Tonin, who rejected the accusation as 'fake news', arguing that a joint NSi/SLS ticked would get two MEPs, as much as the SDS independently, so the right would have ended up with the same tally of seats.
Speculating about the next general election in spring 2022, Šurla is doubtful that the Spring parties formula would work this time, when it did not the last, although he expects Janša to give it one more try with the NSi, SLS and possibly DOM.
Šurla notes that the combination lacks a centrist party like the Virant List which helped Janša form his second government in 2012, or a party that would appeal to the half of the electorate who do not turn out.
"The SDS as it is can obviously not address these voters either. In the finale of each election campaign it is only capable of scrapping as much right voters as possible, but the pool of those is limited," writes Šurla.
Considering the left bloc is ruling out forming a coalition with Janša, he can come to power only if a coalition of akin right parties win a majority in parliament.
"This is not impossible but very hard, considering the structure of the Slovenian electorate, to whom the left adapts better by means of new faces. But the Gordian knot on the right will have to be cut at one point or else they will continue to turn in vicious circles, while the left will rule."
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 31 May 2019
Mladina: The poor election results of the Left
STA, 31 May - Analysing the poor showing of the opposition Left in Sunday's EU election, the weekly Mladina says that rather than by a negative attitude it received from the media, the party was affected by the choice of candidates on its list, in particular Violeta Tomić as the frontrunner.
Although faced with constant opposition from all parties bar the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and a negative attitude of the media, the Left has managed to create a base of voters for itself among intellectuals, urban population and leftists.
Its cooperation with the government also did not harm its public ratings, Mladina editor-in-chief Grega Repovž notes in Friday's editorial.
So the reason for the party's election result must lay in its list of candidates, which was topped by Tomić, who has not been received well by the voters.
"People are put off by her appearance, which intentionally or unintentionally comes across as rough and thus unpleasant to most voters of the Left."
Although the views she advocates are completely in order, she simply does not leave a positive impression, Repovž says. "A large part of voters of the Left will not vote for her or would do so with unease. She is therefore simply not the right top candidate."
If a stronger candidate topped the list, which was solid and no worse than those of other lists running in the election, the Left might have won more votes. But with Tomić in the lead, the whole list lost credibility.
"Unfortunately that was not the only mistake. The party put its president (Luka) Mesec in the last spot - as a kind of public recognition that the party itself does not believe in its list. Voters perceived this as underestimating."
Winning a seat in the European Parliament is important and the Left was left without one entirely by its own blame. The poor election result also made the party weaker in the domestic political arena, Repovž says under the headline The Left.
Demokracija: EU elections mean PM on his way out
STA, 30 May 2019 - Examining the Eurovote results in its commentary on Wednesday, the right-wing weekly Demokracija says that the days of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec are numbered because he would not form alliances with other parties. This cost Igor Šoltes, the grandchild a late senior Communist Party official, his seat in the European Parliament.
Demokracija editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says under that headline Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock... that Šarec will never be forgiven by the deep state for costing Edvard Kardelj's grandchild his MEP seat.
The paper says that the people who "made a comedian a prime minister" failed at creating a liberal bloc that would comprise the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) for the Eurovote.
Despite support from the mainstream media, Šarec's support has dropped. He lost the election and his party only got two seats in European Parliament.
"If Slovenia was a functioning democracy and the land on the sunny side of the Alps had a rule of law, Šarec would offer his resignation, dissolve the coalition and demand an early election."
"In a year and a half, he lost as many as four elections and with the exception of the presidential vote (which is special), he was always defeated by the Democrats (SDS).
"But because Slovenia is ruled by the deep state and the uncles drawing all the strings do not want to give up their transitional advantages, measures had to be taken to repair the damage."
This meant that left-leaning political analysts went on to proclaim the SD and the LMŠ winners of the election, while the SDS, which ran on a joint ticket with the People Party (SLS) was the loser because one of the three seats won by the coalition went to the SLS.
This perverted logic indicates a poor understanding for how the Eurovote works, Biščak says, going on to explain that election coalitions are a logical decision for EU elections, where success threshold is much higher than in the national parliamentary election.
He says that if New Slovenia (NSi) joined the SDS+SLS coalition, they could have won as many as five of Slovenia's seats in European Parliament. But the "whisperers from the background" managed to persuade NSi president Matej Tonin that he should not be in SDS head's Janez Janša's shadow.
Biščak says that the SDS would get the three MEP seats even if it did not cooperate with the SLS, while the latter could not have gotten a single MEP on its own. This alliance will allow the SLS to become a major national player once again.
Šarec's days are numbered because he refuses to listen, Biščak says, explaining how his refusal to connect with other parties cost Šoltes, who has served as MEP in the previous term, his seat in Brussels.
All our posts in this series can be found here
Mladina: Voters Should Reject Neo-Fascism on Sunday
STA, 24 May 2019 - Taking a look at the state of things in Europe, the left-wing Mladina says on Friday European nations are in for a tough task at this year's EU elections, urging them to vote for parties which could prevent a rise in neo-fascism.
The weekly says the European political class has made compromises in the manner of British PM Neville Chamberlain and has let happen all that a united Europe should have prevented.
All those who believed with all their heart in the European project as a post-WWII safety mechanism against fascism are angry with this kind of Europe.
Slovenian voters will have some hard choices to make on Sunday, also because parties have come up with many rather unconvincing candidates.
Judging by opinion polls, only three parties among the normal Slovenian political parties - those which reject both populism and neo-fascism - have a realistic chance of getting MEPs: the coalition Social Democrats (SD) and the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the opposition Left.
Translated into political groups in the European Parliament, this means the Socialist and Democrats, ALDE and European United Left, says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.
In principle, these are the parties, alongside the European Greens, which advocate the foundations of Europe and democracy and represent a bulwark against rising neo-fascism.
The stronger these groups in the European Parliament, the less possibility for Europe to fall into the abyss of fascism, as it did in the early 20th century.
The stronger these groups, the more likely the European People's Party (EPP) will not seek political alliances among the far-right groups.
Since the EPP will undoubtedly remain the strongest group, the elections are not about Europe becoming much better, but about not falling into the abyss again, Mladina says in the editorial headlined Above the Abyss.
Demokracija: A Stronger Border & Higher Pay for Police
STA, 23 May 2019 - Pointing out that police officers risk their lives while ensuring the country's security, the right-wing weekly Demokracija says in its latest editorial that they should be paid more for their efforts, including in strengthening the state and the EU's external Schengen border.
The weekly agrees with the Trade Union of Police Officers (SPS) and its president Kristjan Mlekuš about their take on the problematic situation at the Slovenian-Croatian border, saying that the union's reproval of the government is warranted due to the latter's inaction and lying about actively seeking new staff.
"Police officers are part of one of the most state-forming ministries... They should (like soldiers) be excluded from the public sector's pay system," says Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief of the right-leaning weekly.
The commentary suggests the funds for their pay rise should be taken out of the amount allocated to NGOs, organisations which, according to the editorial, "would open borders and put citizens in danger" instead of protecting them.
"If they were allowed by the authorities, police officers would much rather be sent to the border and deter illegal migration than act as a fine collector with speed traps at straight road sections," says the editorial under the headline Life North of Kolpa, referring to the border river between Slovenia and Croatia.
Commenting on the state's refusal to strengthen the border security by sending more units and earmarking more funds, the weekly blames "the government's incompetence and incomprehensible empathy towards complete strangers" for the increasing amount of Arabs and Africans entering the country while Italy and Austria are closing its borders.
The EU elections are thus a way of giving one's support to parties which strive for security and preservation of national identities, tradition, culture and family values as well as "the advanced European civilisation", concludes the editorial.
All our posts in this series can be found here
Mladina: Slovenia has short-sighted migration policy
STA, 17 May 2019 - Commenting on the migration situation, the weekly Mladina says in Friday's editorial that the government of Marjan Šarec is continuing the short-sighted policy of the previous government of Miro Cerar by increasing the number of police officers and soldiers on the border, setting up more fence an preventing asylum requests.
"However, it does not have the courage to set up reception centres and face the migration flow, process these people and determine who meets the conditions [to stay in the country] and who does not, help them integrate or return them to their countries if they are not danger zones - in short, what this country was actually doing before the 2015 refugee wave," says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.
The number of crossings of the border and asylum requests has not risen so much. "We have seen all this before and dealt with it for decades - but now we have closed the borders and thus turned refugees into illegal migrants and pushed them to city streets, outskirts of villages and forests."
We have no idea how many of them are moving illegally across the country or waiting for transport out of the country in Ljubljana, Repovž says.
We also have no idea how many people are illegally transporting refugees or provide them with shelters in exchange for money, or how many supply them with food. That is the reality, according to Repovž.
As soon as a country starts breaking the law, it has a hard time demanding from others to respect international law.
"And that is what is our biggest mistake. We know that refugees in Croatia have no rights. That they are being illegally transported to Bosnia-Herzegovina. By copying these patterns, we are losing the opportunity to demand the respect of European asylum rules from our neighbour," Repovž says under the headline More Fences, More Soldiers, More Cops.
Demokracija: Critical of govt's inaction after abduction
STA, 16 May 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija is critical of the government after an elderly man was abducted by a group of illegal migrants who stole his car to reach the border with Italy.
"Pro-migrant activists and the agitprop of mainstream media launched a theory that Moravec was not abducted, that the abduction had been staged for the purpose of EU election campaign."
It is horrifying how far some politicians, pro-migrant mouthpieces and agitprop Bolsheviks have gone.
Instead of condemning the abduction and promising to do anything in their power to prevent something like this from happening again, the left has decided to criminalise the victims.
What is more, they labelled the protest in which locals expressed their concern a rally of intolerance and hate speech. It is incomprehensible that people even have to take to the streets for the government to start following the rules.
"We need to make it clear: It's been enough! If the government fails to guarantee security and respect for its own laws, the people have the right to protect their property and lives themselves!" the weekly says under the headline Hostage and Soros's Devil's Advocates.
Mladina: Police found EU Commission dictated bank bailout in criminal fashion
STA, 3 May 2019 - Lies, Lies, It's All Lies, reads the title of the latest Mladina editorial, which comments on the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe into the 2013 bank bailout. According to the left-leaning weekly, the European Commission determined the value of Slovenia's allegedly bankrupt banks without any sort of methodology.
Commenting on what appears to be a leaked criminal complaint filed by the NBI last December against the entire former board of Banka Slovenije, Mladina's editor Grega Repovž says a long time has passed since the emergence of a document that would reveal the actual methods of the European Commission so clearly.
Repovž says the report of the NBI probe - over which Slovenia is being sued by the European Commission - into what was happening at the Slovenian central bank before the bailout reads like a conspiracy theory or a script for a bad movie and warrants a European investigation into the Commission's workings.
Repovž says officials in Slovenia were initially resisting pressure from the Commission to wind up recapitalisation needs but eventually caved in and started to focus on covering the tracks, thus becoming complicit in a crime.
The value of the banks was actually determined by the Commission, which ignored all the actual findings and failed to explain its methodology.
Slovenian police were hoping to find the contentious methodology that would explain the final figures but their eventual discovery was the worst possible - there was no methodology.
"We declared three banks, which were actually not in such a bad state, as bankrupt, pumped EUR 4.78bn into them ... and then accepted the commitment to sell these falsely bankrupt banks," Repovž says.
He argues that it seems Slovenia was truly being used as a guinea pig for enforcing the bail-in principle and for preventing a joint shouldering of the burdens of troubled countries.
However, while NKBM and NLB, stuffed with excess capital from the bailout, were privatised in line with promises given to the Commission, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec cannot continue pretending old commitments need to be honoured and ignore the findings of the probe as Slovenia is in the process of also selling Abanka.
Note – The STA didn’t provide a summary of Demokracja’s editorial this week, but the following is from last week’s Reporter, another right-wing weekly.
Reporter: Unlikely Homeland League will take away SDS votes
STA, 23 April 2019 - Commenting on the ongoing EU election race, the weekly Reporter says in its latest editorial that the newly-established party Homeland League (DOM) is not likely to eat away votes to the opposition Democrats (SDS).
According to the latest poll by Mediana, the Slovenian right will be defeated on the election Sunday, 26 May, as the lists of the SDS and the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) as well as the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) are projected to win only three MEP seats, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla says.
The joint SDS-SLS slate is expected to win the most votes, but only two of Slovenia's eight MEP seats. It could also win a third one by a hair's breadth, just like the SDS did five years ago.
Perhaps it will also manage to win three seats this year because of the alliance with the SLS. However, according to the latest polls, winning four MEPs is not likely, Šurla notes.
The NSi is also not likely to repeat its historic victory from 2004, when the first European election was held in Slovenia and the party won as many as two MEPs.
In the end, the left and right may very well each win four seats, just like ten years ago, Šurla says under the headline Race for Million Euro.
The centre-left has slightly more voters although they are inclined to change party preferences. Most of them currently favour the coalition Social Democrats (SD), which are projected to win two MEPs, while the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the opposition Left would each get one.
Meanwhile, voters of the centre-right, are much more decided. This is why Šurla expects no major flow of SDS voters to the Homeland League, which does not even appear in opinion polls yet.
Perhaps, DOM could cost the SDS-SLS list of candidates only the third potential MEP seat, Šurla concludes.
All our posts in this series can be found here, and our stories on the Institute of Chemistry are here
STA, 26 April 2019- The left-wing weekly Mladina suggests in the latest editorial that the judiciary should take a stand on the behaviour of the judge in the Chemical Institute boss murder retrial, finding that its hard for the media to take a stand lest any criticism should be understood as an attempt to discredit him.
Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says that judge Zvjezdan Radonjić has been conducting the case in an odd way and has not done enough to dispel doubts about his impartiality.
He notes that Mladina has questioned his engaging as an expert witness a man who like the defendant, Milko Novič, has ties with the opposition Democratic Party (SDS).
"When things were becoming increasingly unusual, Radonjić decided to swiftly wrap up the trial and prevent most witness hearings ... What is more, in declaring the decision, in conduct that is unusual in a courtroom he alleged pressure bearing upon the entire court by the media ...
"The very same day he obviously turned into a hero of people's hearts, the judge who stood up to the establishment."
"In a situation in which he declared himself a hero standing up against the system it is hard even to write about him as being unusual - given such 'heroism' any act of drawing attention to his unusual judging would automatically be understood as an act of discrediting."
This is why the media are in a difficult situation taking a position on the case, even though a Večer reporter would not be bothered and she wrote down that the judge should have been suspended because of the show he staged in court.
Instead, Repovž says that the Radonjić case calls for a serious reflection within the judiciary at last.
"Judges decided a few years ago not to take a stand on the difficulties in their ranks. This is human but judges are people whose decisions seriously affect people's lives. So this cup can unfortunately not pass them."
STA, 25 April 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija comments on the allegations of pressure on the judge in the Chemistry Institute boss murder retrial in the latest editorial, finding that deep state remains at work in the Slovenian judiciary.
Editor-in-chief Jože Biščak names Ljubo Bavcon and Alenka Šelih as two jurists who he says were ideologists of revolutionary law under the Communist regime, and who should have been ostracised and banned from public life, but have instead won several prizes and honours.
He says that this is part of the reason for the Slovenian judiciary being in a state as described by judge Zvezdan Radonjić, who in returning the acquittal of Milko Novič, gave a dramatic account of the pressure and covert threats he had been subject.
"That was not the 'ordinary' kind of pressure, but pressure from the deep state via his judicial colleagues and superiors.
"Everyone should have beaten the drum for that, all the alarms should have gone off. However, nothing happened. Well, almost nothing," Biščak says, referring to Radonjić's superiors finding that nothing dramatic happened in the Novič case, and saying that they would no longer communicate with the public about internal procedures in the case.
"Mind you, the case that disclosed the workings of the deep state in the judiciary and how someone from behind the scenes is trying to interfere in the judgement, is an internal matter of the court!
"Not at all, dear gentlemen in Tavčarjeva 9 [the address of Ljubljana Court], it is a matter of interest to all the citizens, so you will have to provide public and regular explanations about what is going on.
"If ever, now is the right time to sweep up in the judiciary, which due to many infamous cases and systematic violations of human rights is justifiably referred to as misjustice by part of the public.
"The Slovenian judiciary has never been cleansed, has not taken the road to Damascus (like Saul, who on the road to Damascus converted from a persecutor of Christians to become the Apostle Paul), let alone being lustrated," Biščak writes under the headline Road to Damascus.
STA, 24 April 2019 - The parliamentary committees in charge of foreign affairs and culture have condemned the interference of Hungary in the freedom of press in Slovenia.
The committees met on Wednesday, less than three weeks after Hungarian Ambassador Edit Szilágyiné Bátorfi lodged a verbal note with the Foreign Ministry after the weekly Mladina ran on its cover a caricature of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban with his hand raised in a Nazi salute and surrounded by three politicians from the ranks of the Slovenian Democrats (SDS).
Sources: Viktor Orbán from Wikimedia - Europa Pont CC-by-2.0; Mladina’s Facebook
Apart from condemning Hungary's actions, the committees also proposed that the government make sure to protect the freedom of expression when revising relevant legislation, to preserve media ownership transparency, encourage free and plural media and install safety mechanisms to prevent interferences and pressures from other countries.
Modern Centre Party (SMC) MP Gregor Perič said at the session that Slovenia had faced "unusual responses by our neighbours", from contentious statements by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, to Hungary's note, and wire taps indicating Croatian government attempted to prevent the release of a report about who listened in on Slovenia's representatives in the arbitration process in 2015.
Attending the session, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said he would react decisively when basic values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and Slovenia's sovereignty are under attack in the future.
He underlined the importance of nurturing good neighbourly relations, adding that the note lodged by the Hungarian ambassador had not caused a deterioration in bilateral relations.
Culture Minister Zoran Poznič meanwhile said that the ministry would draft a media legislation reform by the end of the year. He was responding to Mladina editor-in-chief Gregor Repovž, who called on the ministry to reform the legislation, above all to clearly define and separate the media from "propaganda working under the cover of media".
The session, called by the coalition parties the Marjan šarec List (LMŠ), the SMC, Social Democrats (SD), the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), was criticised as a pre-election stunt by the opposition SDS and the Left.
All out stories about Slovenia and Hungary are here
Mladina: Government failing to protect national interest from Hungary
STA, 19 April 2019 – The left-leaning Mladina is critical of Slovenia's reluctance to protect its national interests in a commentary accompanying revelations about connections between the European Commission, the Hungarian government and a bank vying to take over Abanka. The weekly underlines that strong financial institutions are the backbone of a sovereign country.
Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says that a journalist of Mladina found new connections between the Hungarian government and a Hungarian official at the European Commission who insisted that Slovenia privatise its banks.
The situation is becoming increasingly problematic because the revelations trigger doubts about the actions of those involved in Slovenia, as well as the expertise of the European Commission.
Mladina shows connection between the Hungarian government led by Viktor Orban and István P. Székely, who works for the commission, also highlighting the efforts of Hungarian OTP bank to take over Abanka, which is being privatised.
It wonders why the Hungarian Imre Balogh, who also has links to the Orban government, was appointed the CEO of Slovenian bad bank in 2015 and why Laszlo Urban, a member of Orban's party Fidesz, was appointed a member of the NLB supervisory board in 2016.
"What sort of network has the Hungarian government already woven in Slovenia, apart from the obvious links to the Democrats (SDS) and the media it bought from it?" the weekly wonders, adding that Ambassador Edit Szilágyiné Bátorfi had met privately with Slovenia's central bank governor Boštjan Vasle.
The world is changing and countries are pursuing increasingly selfish interests. "Small countries, above all, need to think very carefully about future relations and how to position themselves today to be safe from turbulence in the future."
But Slovenia does not have many experts capable of thinking so far in advance, Mladina says under the headline Time for the Wise.
Strong banks and financial institutions are the backbone of a country but the incumbent government does not seem to be aware of this.
It has not stopped the privatisation of Abanka although countries are fighting for "the last segment of Slovenia's financial backbone" in plain sight.
Demokracija: Politicians should not speak of media freedom
STA, 18 April 2019 – The right-leaning Demokracija says in its latest commentary that the concern for freedom of the press expressed by ruling politicians in the wake of the alleged pressures on the private broadcaster POP TV should be taken with a grain of salt, adding that journalists should actually be worried about politicians who are doing that.
The ruling politicians were quick to swear on democracy and presented themselves as defenders of media independence from politics and capital, but this care of politicians for freedom of the press should raise concern among journalists.
Friday's editorial headlined Riders of Freedom notes that, for instance, MEP Tanja Fajon of the coalition Social Democrats (SD) said on Twitter that "if there is no democracy, there could be no media freedom".
Fajon's idea that democracy ensures freedom of the press is wrong. It is the opposite: freedom of the press, individuals, expression and economy can ensure democracy, which manifests itself in various forms, the editor-in-chief of the right-leaning weekly, Jože Biščak, argues.
Slovenia has around 20,000 laws and by-laws and also has media legislation. "What is regulated by law cannot be free. The media are therefore not free, they are regulated. And the government will make media legislation only stricter."
Some have gone as far as proposing licences for journalists, which would be a very totalitarian thing, as an "expert committee" appointed by politicians would determine who is journalist and who is not.
They say this is a method to fight bad journalism, protect the public from fake media and fake journalists, and improve media professionalism. But this has no basis in reality, as despite the increasing regulation, there are a lot more media outlets today, and they are much more accessible to an average citizen.
"It is not up to the state or politicians to recognise the legitimacy of the media, it is up to every individual to choose freely what sources and media they will believe. This is how it goes in free societies."
Biščak concludes by saying that those who think that the majority of Slovenian citizens are not capable of differentiating between disinformation and information and that politics could "help" them in that, are inclined to dictatorship.
All our posts in this series can be found here