Ljubljana related

29 Dec 2019, 10:07 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 27 December

Mladina: Decline in reading shows intellectual regression

STA, 27 December – The left-leaning weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that the Slovenian nation as a whole has received a slap in the face with the results of a recent reading culture survey, which actually does not speak about reading of books, but is a cruel report about intellectual regression of the nation.

The survey shows that Slovenians have continued to regress when it comes to reading habits in the last five years, with half of the nation failing to read a single full book in a year.

"No, the trends are not similar in other countries and even our trends were not such in the post-independence period," Grega Repovž, the editor-in-chief of the left-leaning weekly, says in State as a Company.

He notes that Slovenia has also fared very poorly comparatively, with five more books per capita being sold in Norway than in Slovenia.

The survey is actually a cruel report about intellectual regression of the nation, as reading of books is one of the indicators showing the state of intellect and power of thought in a country.

The situation is a result of mistakes made in state politics in a longer period of time, and the current government will have no impact. "But alarms should be blaring all over the country, from the academy of sciences and arts to the prime minister's office."

The survey clearly shows that "we are in the phase in which the nation is becoming stupid - which is something that we do not feel, something we are not aware of, but which is happening and showing only in the long run."

Reporter: Snap election unlikely

STA, 23 December - Despite the tight result in the vote on the appointment of Angelika Mlinar as cohesion minister last week, the right-leaning magazine Reporter argues in the latest editorial that the opposition does not hold the key to a snap election.

In a piece headlined Pre-Christmas Drama, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla notes that the minority government's tally of votes in the National Assembly has been reduced to just 42, which even when adding the two minority MPs, does not make a simple majority in the 90-strong National Assembly.

Šurla also notes that after an MP defected from the National Party (SNS) to the opposition Democrats (SDS), the largest opposition party increased its tally of votes to 26, twice as many as the LMŠ party of PM Marjan Šarec.

"The question is, however, whether the SNS defector will get Janez Janša any closer to a new centre-right government in this term or at least a snap election he likes predicting so much."

Šurla remembers similar "manoeuvring" two decades ago when an SNS MP and one from the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) defected to the centre-right bloc, which made it possible for the late Andrej Bajuk to form a centre-right government, but it only lasted half a year, after which the right bloc lost the election.

Wondering who holds the key to a snap election today, Šurla says that the right bloc does not, nor does the Left, but the key is held by the coalition party leaders, who "could leave the Šarec boat early out of their own calculation or on the advice of uncles from behind the scenes.

"Primarily the prime minister, whose LMŠ party could probably enhance its position considerably judging by opinion poll results (...). However, Šarec is not (yet) prepared to risk such a move."

Šurla agrees with economist Matej Lahovnik, who expects that Šarec will wait until after Slovenia's spell as president of the Council of the EU, that is until early 2022 just a few months ahead of a regular election, to pull a "Cerar", that is do as Miro Cerar did when he stepped down shortly before the 2018 election.

"There is no other 'hero' in sight within the coalition for the time being because the leaders of all other parties are trembling with fear about their political survival. In a snap election they could be swept away to the scrapheap of history."

As for the Left, Šurla says that even if the party is trying hard to prove its position in the opposition, the party would back the government if there was a risk of Janša returning to power. "That is, if the uncles from behind the scenes ordered them so".

All our posts in this series are here

22 Dec 2019, 09:28 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 20 December

Mladina: Chinese-owned Gorenje seen as threat by Germany

STA, 20 December - The left-wing weekly Mladina is concerned about whether the Slovenian government is aware of the geostrategic interests involved in Gorenje becoming a Chinese company, predicting that Germany will make an all-out effort to prevent Hisense from making a foray into the European market through Slovenia.

In the latest editorial, headlined Angela Merkel Watching Gorenje, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž writes that Hisense has been unsuccessfully trying to get into the German market for almost two decades as all its attempts have been blocked by Germany and its industry, in particular the Bosch - Siemens group.

He says that this complicates the situation for the Slovenian household appliance company, because the moment it was acquired by Hisense, Gorenje became the company that the European industry and countries, in particular Germany, will do everything to stop in its expansion efforts.

"This is a big game that is not necessarily bad. Wise countries, especially small ones play at several sides, cooperate with various global superpowers thus establishing its power internationally.

"The German government does not feel any true sympathy for Slovenia, we are part of its interest but not its friends. To them, Hisense Slovenija is in fact a more important player than Slovenia," writes Repovž.

He goes on to say that China cares equally little about Slovenia, except when its geostrategic interests are concerned, wondering whether the Chinese government is extorting Slovenia over Gorenje into adopting Huawei's 5G technology, which he infers from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit.

He wonders whether the Slovenian government and intelligence services think ahead far enough, including how Slovenia's position in the eyes of the German government has changed and what will the consequences be for Gorenje.

"It is intriguing that Slovenia is getting involved in these big geostrategic games, but the fundamental question is whether it is fit to play. We are a country without long-term alliances, we do not have an ally of our own like the Croatians, who have Germany, or the Serbs France (and Russia)."

Repovž also notes the geostrategic interests related to retailer Mercator, where it says Slovenia has become vulnerable against Russia, which controls Mercator.

Or Ljubljana airport, where Lufthansa, one of the shareholders of the German operator of the airport, has now taken over most of the air traffic to and from Slovenia. "There was no coincidence in Adria Airways's collapse, only a clear business plan on the part of the competition."

Reporter: Poor governance at state-owned companies

STA, 16 December 2019 - The right-wing weekly Reporter writes about corporate governance at Slovenian state-owned companies in the latest editorial, finding that the executives affiliated with former President Milan Kučan are on their way out.

"Members of Kučan's table on the front page of the latest issue of Reporter (...) are the part of the deep state that is on its way out, their businesses are being taken by a new guard, rift apart into several networks that fight each other ruthlessly for control of the (para)state sector," writes editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla.

He writes that, 20 years ago, three close "adjutants of Kučan ruled" in the energy company Petrol, which "has always been and will continue to be a political company, as long as the state has a major say there. A big sack of money that many of the chosen ones feed from (...)

"Two months ago Petrol saw a showdown between 'red' networks, the losing side being the Borut Jamnik clan, an important member of which was Tomaž Berločnik, who rose to the post [of Petrol CEO] eight years ago with the help of politics and will now likely leave the same way."

Šurla offers Petrol as well as retailer Mercator and household appliances maker Gorenje as examples of how deep in the doldrums Slovenian corporate governance at state-owned companies is.

He says that Mercator and Gorenje were driven to such a poor state by domestic owners and managers that they are now being salvaged by foreigners.

"These days it is priceless to hear and watch how representatives of Russian Sberbank and Chinese Hisense are trying to drive home to the Slovenian public that socialism is over."

Šurla goes on to say that a person from China, the cradle of Communism, had to come to Velenje to spell it out that socialism is over once and for all, that there will be no future for Gorenje without a profit.

Under the headline Thin Red Line, the editor concludes that Mercator and Gorenje are "paying the toll of the notorious 'national interest'. Other 'flagship' state-owned companies are bound to face a similar fate in the future. Once they have turned into a heap of rust and politics is forced to sell them."

All our posts in this series are here

14 Dec 2019, 11:04 AM

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

Mladina: Refugees will eventually tell their stories

STA, 13 December 2019 - Much like Europe's responsibility for developments during the war in former Yugoslavia is being discussed today, the horrors that refugees are experiencing now will surface in the years to come, the left-wing weekly Mladina says on Friday. The story will be told by people who will be fully integrated into European society, it notes.

"It's winter, a time when we become aware of refugees again. It has been so since 2015. That is when tents collapse because of snow and sleeping outdoors means sickness and death.

"When winter comes, we see footage of children and adults freezing in camps - this year the media and humanitarian workers were attracted by the Vučjak camp in Bihać, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Last year it was Lesbos, Greece. In 2016 it was the Calais camp in France," editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says.

Every year, this prompts people and countries to join forces and help this one particular camp - this year, it is Vučjak - to make Europeans feel a little bit better. "But in fact nothing has changed. There are plenty other tents and camps."

According to Repovž, everyone knows what is happening in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "We know very well that Vučjak was abandoned because European countries have 'paid' Bosnia-Herzegovina to make this disgrace go away."

"We know exactly what is happening along our wire and around it. We know exactly what Croatian police are doing. We know exactly what the situation is in Greece. We know what is going on in Macedonia."

And this is the story we will not be able to get away from. It will be told in the future by different people, completely integrated into our society, from a basketball star, writer, to perhaps a popular TV anchor or a leading doctor, perhaps a minister.

They will speak about the millions living in camps, including hundreds of thousands of children growing up without education, without basic necessities and in total misery, closed in fact and under the supervision of guards, Repovž says.

Their peers will listen to these stories and they will suddenly see their countries in a completely different light, and they will want to talk about it, Repovž says under the headline “Past Always Catches Up With You”.

Demokracija: Leftists hypocrites on climate change

STA, 12 December 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija accuses leftists of hypocrisy when it comes to climate change. It says the UN climate change meeting in Madrid is "not only a get-together of harmful tragic comedians, it is also a meeting of characters more bizarre than even Graham Chapman could imagine".

The magazine highlights people like US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who liberally uses her private jet, and entrepreneur Elon Musk, "a hypocritical bird" who left US President Donald Trump's advisory board after Trump abandoned the Paris climate agreement but "flies so much each year he could circle the Earth six times and each of his SpaceX rockets uses over 130,00 litres of fossil fuel".

"These people, who do not trigger even minimum moral outrage on the left, trade in and get rich off apocalyptic climate change stories - naturally under the UN banner," says editor-in-chief Jože Biščak, who goes on to accuse the UN and its various climate change endeavours of attempts to "create a global centrally managed society that would control all facets of life of each individual in the world".

Nevertheless, Demokracija, which is co-owned by the climate change-denying Democratic Party (SDS), still sees hope. An increasing number of people are sceptical about climate change and turnout at climate conferences is declining, says the commentary “Haydn's Symphony No. 45 in Madrid”.

All our posts in this series are here

07 Dec 2019, 10:11 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 6 December

Mladina: Macron is right, NATO is brain dead

STA, 6 December 2019 - In its latest commentary, Mladina agrees with French President Emmanuel Macron's assessment that NATO is brain dead, as it has been proven by the acts of Turkey and the US. The weekly says this could actually be good news for those who already think that Slovenia has no business being a NATO member state.

"Of course Macron is right. What will be the next thing that NATO members, including Slovenia, will have to swallow," Grega Repovž, the editor-in-chief of the left-leaning weekly, wonders under the headline Of Course NATO is Dead!.

He notes that Slovenia, as a NATO member state, has apparently not been informed that "another member state will carry out ethnic cleansing of Kurds on the Syrian side of the Turkey-Syria border", adding that consulting other members is an obligation written down in the North Atlantic Treaty.

If no one but Macron is protesting, it is our obligation to conclude that NATO member states, including Slovenia, had been informed about Turkey's intentions and that they had decided to tolerate them. "Can we conclude that the US consulted other members when it decided to exit the international nuclear deal with Iran?".

Repovž argues that neither Turkey nor the US cared what other NATO members thought. "Why? Because they don't take it seriously. For the US and Turkey, NATO has been clinically dead long ago - and they don't care if they violated the alliance's rules."

This is why Macron's words should be taken seriously by those who actually believe in NATO and in its mission. It is about those, in fear of Trump's America and Erdogan's Turkey, are being "calculated in tolerating the usurping of international law and rules, and destroying any credibility in the long run".

Repovž also wonders how it will be possible for NATO members to point a finger at Russia for violating democratic standards or criticise China if they tolerate grave violations of these standards by their allies.

"NATO is brain dead - Turkey and the US have shown this with their actions, and Macron with words. Which could be good news for all those who already think that Slovenia has no business being in this organisation," concludes the commentary.

Demokracija: Govt cares more for state apparatus than citizens

STA, 5 December 2019 - Demokracija says in its latest commentary that the government of Marjan Šarec does not only have the pathological desire for full control and for suffocating the free business initiative with regulation, but that it, first and foremost, cares more for the state apparatus than citizens.

"Just take a look at the budget: nine tenths will go for wages, material costs, welfare and other transfers, and only a tenth for investments," says Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief of the right-leaning weekly.

Investments are something all citizens not only certain groups of people benefit from, which should be the purpose of public financing, he adds under the headline Doors Without a Lock.

"But the government says that citizens have obligations towards it. Of course, this is not true. In modern societies, governments have obligations towards citizen, and they as executive bodies have the power to decide only in rare cases."

These are defence of the population (military), maintaining order and peace (police) and making unbiased rulings in disputes (judiciary). "Everything else is abuse of authority, as the government must serve to citizens and not vice versa."

According to Biščak, Šarec and "his comrades", which make up by far the worst government in independent Slovenia, have "brought their authoritarian perversions to the point where they actually threaten democracy and freedom."

Their measures are ranking from "fully subordinating" the National Security Council and the intelligence agency SOVA, to heavily fining "free gathering of people into village guards" and persecuting media and opposition leaders.

If stricter forms of punishment were used in socialism, more sophisticated measures are available in the digital era, which force an individual to lose any desire for freedom and let themselves be controlled by the state.

"It is not socialism as such anymore, but a perfidious form of progressive democracy, which calls itself democratic socialism, where the deep state has the desire to control literally everything with help from a mass of loyal bureaucrats."

According to Demokracija, citizens are becoming prisoners of modern-day government despots. "When you are terrorised and exploited by the government, which uses the most detestable methods in the process, you have nowhere to go. But then you know what you have to do."

All our posts in this series are here

30 Nov 2019, 12:11 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 29 November

Mladina: Hopeful about abolition of top-up health insurance

STA, 29 November 2019 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest editorial that Wednesday's endorsement of legislation that would effectively introduce a fully-fledged single-payer system of health insurance by the parliamentary Health Committee is crucial. Slovenia has never been this close to abolishing top-up-health insurance, says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.

When the coalition Social Democrats (SD) announced they would present their own proposal at the committee, introducing a solidarity-based system of payment although somewhat different than the one tabled by the opposition Left, this seemed like a diversion, given that three other coalition parties are not in favour of such a system.

But then after a whole day of uncertainty, an ad hoc coalition was formed among those parties, the SD, Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), and the Modern Centre Party (SMC), and the opposition Left and National Party (SNS).

This secured enough votes to endorse the Left's proposal, which was amended by the LMŠ and coalition, and thus put it on the agenda of the National Assembly. As expected, the opposition Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) voted against.

"We should remember that for next time, when the three parties talk about problems in health, because the legislative proposal (that was endorsed) is now so watered-down that it is only about whether insurers will continue to take EUR 60 million a year from insurants or the money will be spent in public healthcare," Repovž says.

"We've never been this close to having that money returned to healthcare. But we should not get overly excited yet. The insurers' lobby is really strong. But at least now we know who is on which side," concludes the commentary They Can Make It.

Demokracija: Attacks PM Šarec over holiday rentals

STA, 28 November 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija delivers a scathing attack on Prime Minister Marjan Šarec in the latest editorial headlined Šarec Is Mad, Stop Him!, in response to his suggesting limiting holiday rentals.

Referring to the comments made by Šarec as part of the efforts to tackle the Slovenian housing crisis, Demokracija editor-in-chief Jože Biščak writes that he "is afraid because almost no one, and in particular no mainstream media, reacted strongly to Marjan Šarec's idea to time limit holiday rentals of flats".

"The prime minister would set down by law to whom and when you can rent out your flat. To put it otherwise: the government would assume the right to have your private property at its disposal ... It is not just madness, it is outright insanity owing to a complete lack of ability to govern."

Biščak likens the proposal to limitations imposed by the former Communist regime in the country, asserting that the very thought of such a flagrant interference in private property should send all alarm bells ringing.

"This is no longer democracy, it is a road to tyranny, perfidiously wrapped up in some kind of social justice, and it is all directed at a socialist utopia in which the state can take care of everything."

Biščak agrees that high prices make housing ever less affordable, in particular in big cities, and that rental housing especially is in short supply, the reason for which he says is demand outstripping supply.

He blames the state, which he says is meddling in the market with central planning measures; the legislative and executive branches are passing detrimental laws and the bureaucracy imposes ludicrous demands.

"The only solution is consistently respecting the law of the free market and capitalism," Biščak says, calling on people to raise their voice.

All our posts in this series are here

23 Nov 2019, 09:36 AM

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

Mladina: Slovenia’s weakness at applying for EU funds

STA, 22 November 2019 - The left-wing weekly Mladina criticises Slovenian ministries for doing a poor job of preparing projects eligible for EU funds. The only exception seems to be the Justice Ministry, which has led to a situation in which Slovenia will be building a massive EUR 68 million prison, but not much-needed retirement homes and not-for-profit flats.

The prison project has been in the works since the term of former Justice Minister Lovro Šturm (2004-2008), Mladina editor-in-chief Gregor Repovž notes, adding that experts have said it resembled a prison serving medieval inquisition.

But surprisingly, the project was continued by Šturm's successor Aleš Zalar, who had said that the situation in Slovenian prisons was so poor that the country was paying compensation to prisoners. And then Justice Minister Goran Klemenčič stated the most important reason: Slovenia could get EU funds for the project.

When the next EU financial perspective is being negotiated countries pitch their plans and Brussels approved for Slovenia EUR 50 million for prisons in Slovenia in this perspective.

So the Justice Ministry made a simple calculation: the EU funds can cover up to 75% of the investment, thus Slovenia will be building a EUR 68 million prison. The project and its price are not based on actual needs but on the amount of EU funds available.

"And the most absurd thing? If this project goes through, Slovenia will once again be good at drawing of EU funds and the Justice Ministry (and the Prison Administration) will be the golden birdie."

Slovenia could also be drawing EU funds for much-needed retirement homes, but not a single retirement home has been built in the country for 15 years. "Simply because the Social Affairs Ministry has not stepped up in the recent years."

"The same could be said for the Infrastructure Ministry, which has failed for the past 20 years to become more active in building public flats, creating a crisis for 20 people who are unable to buy their own flat."

This shows it is very important what sort of a person heads a ministry. "Because the Justice Ministry has had two strong ministers in recent years, we will be building a disproportionately big prison, but not retirement homes and flats."

Demokracija: Deep state should be voted out of office

STA, 21 November 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija calls on "the good people" in Thursday's editorial to go to the polls in the next election to vote out of office "the bad guys" who are in power in Slovenia, which it says is ruled by the deep state.

The magazine gives several examples, including Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković's being untouchable for courts because he has "a membership card of the mafia deep state".

To join "this elite of first-class citizens", it takes publicly displaying hatred to opposition Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says.

But it is not enough to hate Janša, he and his SDS must also be excluded from public life, which Prime Minister Marjan Šarec did by not inviting him to a recent session of the National Security Council, says Biščak.

The leader of the largest opposition party was not invited to the session nor was he informed about it, which Biščak says amounts to a coupe d'etat with which the largest opposition party was excluded from parliamentary democracy.

Biščak sees similar "stiffness" at the Constitutional Court, which has recently prevented a hearing in parliament in which prosecutor Niko Pušnik could reveal "the mafia workings of the deep state" by explaining how State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa exerted pressure on him in a case related to former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler.

"If the Government Palace has turned into a swamp under Šarec, then the Constitutional Court under its president Rajko Knez and the State Prosecution under Šketa and Zvonko Fišer are turning into a sewage system populated by rats. And these will never allow their comrades to be found guilty, giving each other immunity."

Biščak thus urges people to "clean Augeas' stables, to topple the bad boys ... so that a bad and corrupt government voted into office by the good people who do not go to the polls happens never again".

He says in the editorial Mafia Sends Cheques by Mail this is the only way "to give justice a chance and for mafia cheques to be no longer delivered by couriers."

All our posts in this series are here

09 Nov 2019, 10:35 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 8 November

Mladina: Govt, Left must find common ground or face demise

STA, 8 November 2019 - The left-leaning weekly Mladina warns in its latest commentary that if the minority coalition and the opposition Left fail to come to a new agreement in the coming weeks, the government will not even survive until the spring, with Janez Janša of the Democrats lurking from behind and waiting for a snap election.

If the heads of the coalition parties and the Left do not start to actually talk to each other, instead of flexing muscles and promoting their own importance and self-confidence, the "government will fall, loudly," editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says in Risky Game.

Opposition leader Janez Janša, who has a (malicious) historical memory, is probably watching the elbowing within the coalition with a smile on his face, and he will definitely "help" bring the chaos in a few months to the point when snap election will be an option.

And if election is to be held soon, no party of the current coalition would gain from it, and would instead be severely punished by voters. The same is true for the Left, as voters will not care about details, having voted for a coalition and stability for the next four years.

According to Repovž, the absence of memory in the coalition party and the Left is astounding: they do not remember that the promise of normality was what attracted voters who did not want a coalition of hatred, but a normal government.

"And after one year they are not capable of talking to each other, everybody praises only themselves, and pointing finger at others? The only person who has managed to control himself ... is [DeSUS president Karl] Erjavec. Everybody else are throwing spanners in the works."

In the eyes of voters, including their own, the Left could become the party which has brought the government down and undermined stability, and made it possible for Janša to take over the government in a few months, with or without an election.

"They can ease the tensions and make a new agreement. But they can also destroy what looked like an achievement after the 2018 election in the increasingly nationalist Europe. They are putting a lot at stake. Of course, everybody has the right to miss their own historic opportunity," concludes the commentary.

Reporter: Petrol management resignation political move

STA, 4 November 2019 - Energy company "Petrol has always smelled not only of oil and petrol but also of politics," the weekly Reporter says in its commentary on Monday, more than a week after the company management resigned at a marathon supervisory board session.

The state owns a controlling 30% stake in Petrol and there is no point in pretending that the tentacles of politics do not reach the company, the magazine says under the headline Smell of Oil and Gunpowder.

The company's most recent CEO Tomaž Berločnik was appointed to the position because this was decided by the ruling politicians, in February 2011 this was the government of Borut Pahor, the then president of the Social Democrats (SD).

Berločnik was considered a key link in the network of Borut Jamnik, the wonder boy of the SD, who has been making staffing decisions in state-owned companies for a decade.

"Jamnik's clan has become a state within the state, a network that has grown over-ruling politicians' heads. The only thing above them was the blue sky.

Berločnik is likely not the angel the media is making him out to be. Apparently, there is a binder full of documents relating to allegedly harmful moves and plans, say sources close to the supervisory board.

The question remains the reason for the management's resignation. Innocent people do not just leave their jobs in a haste, allegedly also without severance.

There are many rumours: from Berločnik's links to Croatian tycoon Emil Tedeschi to contentious businesses in Russia. Maybe more details will surface in the future throwing more shadows on Berločnik's management and Jamnik will be even paler in his TV interviews.

After Telekom, this is the second blow to Jamnik's clan in the war among party networks in state companies. A political dimension cannot be denied in Petrol resignations, although all politicians have been denying involvement.

All our posts in this series are here

01 Nov 2019, 13:11 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 1 November

Mladina: Problems with staffing in state firms

STA, 30 October 2019 - Mladina draws parallels in its latest commentary between the staffing policy in state-owned companies of the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and that of the government of Janez Janša, arguing that the LMŠ is not being serious when it comes to managing state assets, and that it could be dangerous in the long run.

"When the management of Petrol stepped down last week, it was clear that the replacement took place because the management did not want to fulfil certain, actually very open wishes of the ruling party for staffing expansion."

Under the headline The Ides of October, editor-in-chief of the left-leaning weekly Grega Repovž adds that the energy company Petrol, one of the largest companies in Slovenia, was not the only one faced with such a manner of staffing lately.

Actually, reporting of this soft (or even hard) pressure are numerous companies, and some of them have already been restructured. Management and supervisory boards have already been expanded in the motorway company DARS and the railway operator Slovenske Železnice, among others.

"Prime Minister Šarec claims that he has nothing to do with that, but he is not being credible, as at the same time he complains that his party has fewer of its people in companies than other parties do."

According to Repovž, there is no doubt whatsoever that his people, cabinet officials and ministers are making order in state-owned companies.

The management of Petrol is stepping down, but neither the prime minister, Slovenian Sovereign Holding nor the finance minister have explained this. "This is done when there is only one goal: to put someone of yours in a position, regardless of the cost."

Repovž argues that this is "completely unhealthy, suspicious and smelly. Even more: there are methods present that we witnessed during Janša' rule between 2004 and 2008."

This is how important companies, including Petrol, were managed. New managements of these companies usually put them into difficult situations with their lack of knowledge. Petrol barely managed to pick itself up after Janša's venting out."

A few exceptions excluded, Šarec's government is not putting strong staff in state-owned companies either, but its people, most of them with little knowledge and experience, concludes the commentary.

Demokracija: Slovenia is in a swamp of a deep state

STA, 30 October 2019 – The right-leaning Demokracija argues in its latest commentary that it is because of the favourable attitude of the media towards the "holders of the former totalitarian authority" that Slovenia is where it is today - "in a swamp of a deep state".

One of the persons referred to is former Slovenian President Milan Kučan, the usual target of the right-leaning weekly, who is labelled as a key person who had initially "intimately" opposed Slovenia's independence.

"Later on, this person made plots to hinder Slovenia on its way to a truly free and democratic society," editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says under the headline Alligators in a Swamp and Pterodactyls in the Sky.

According to him, Kučan is still a deity for a majority of the journalist, editorial and managerial staff of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, "about whom it is literally prohibited to utter any criticism, let alone connect him with human rights violations."

It is also because of this attitude of the media that Slovenia is "in a swamp of a deep state, where the leftists elites are protected, sitting at the top of the food chain like predatory alligators and pterodactyls."

A pile of nonsense which has been uttered by these people and which should be exposed to serious criticism has gone by, and even deserved an applause, the commentator says, adding that Prime Minister Marjan Šarec is leading the pack.

Šarec recently said in parliament that "taxes finance public services" with a straight face. "If this was true, it would mean that taxes grow on trees. That the government picks them and fills the budget basket. But this is not true."

Public services are largely financed by taxpayers, the mass of completely ordinary people who, without any connections or acquaintances, work hard in the private sector, which is increasing feeling the tax wedge.

"Because of the large amount they need to earmark to the state, we can say that they live in a kind of a state-controlled slavery, where it is completely clear who is the slave and who is the master," concludes Biščak.

All our posts in this series are here

26 Oct 2019, 10:21 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 25 October

Mladina: Student work debate shows MPs out of touch with reality

STA, 25 October 2019 - Mladina, the lef-leaning weekly, is critical in its commentary on Friday of MPs and their disparaging comments about students as they were debating a rise in hourly wage for student work. Criticising students, while failing to make it easier for them to afford going to university, shows that MPs have no clue about the social reality of the country.

The weekly praises the coalition for increasing hourly wages for student work to EUR 4.56 nett, albeit by less than initially planned.

However, the discourse during the plenary debate was barely acceptable. If they had been talking about women, it would be chauvinism, if it were foreigners, it would be racism, Mladina editor-on-chief Grega Repovž says under the headline Students? A Pest?

MPs do simply not understand what a child, or two, at university means for an average Slovenian family. It calculates that two children studying in Ljubljana cost about EUR 1,000 a month, which is a lot of money even for a middle-class family.

Students work and they have expenses besides just housing and food. This is 2019 and there is nothing wrong with the notion that student life should not be complete misery.

Many MPs likely had to sacrifice a lot and work hard manual jobs in exchange for poor pay, while they were studying. "But this society has advanced, GDP has grown to EUR 22,000, and the standard of living has increased for students, just like for everybody else."

Most students do not work 170 hours a month, most work between 60 and 70 hours a month and make about EUR 300. Saying they represent unfair competition is obscene.

They are hired because they are more flexible, they can work weekends, when most full-time employees need to get childcare. What is more, students do not get paid extra for working weekends, nights and holidays, like full-time employees.

While a family with average income can barely afford to send two children to university, those leasing apartments to students in Ljubljana will on average make an additional EUR 2,400 in the coming year as a result of growing rents, the weekly says.

Of course, these rents are off the books so that flat owners can avoid paying tax. While MPs were not short on words in their criticism of students, did they take any measures against Airbnb to reign in the growth of rents?

"How many student dorms will be built next year? Hasn't the coalition given up on a property tax? Didn't the coalition just now lower tax on labour, especially for those with highest pay?"

Reporter: SOVA should be rebuilt from scratch

STA, 21 October 2019 – Reporter, the right-leaning weekly, takes the opportunity of the controversial hiring of an acquaintance of PM Marjan Šarec in SOVA (Slovenska obveščevalno-varnostna agencija)  to say in its latest commentary that the national intelligence and security agency should be rebuilt from scratch as it has been completely discredited by politicians.

"SOVA should be demolished to the ground and then built anew," Silvester Šurla, the editor-in-chief of the right-leaning weekly says under the headline From a Target to Death.

Politicians who have been in power in the last three decades have completely "plucked and discredited this mysterious bird", he adds in reference to SOVA meaning an owl in Slovenian.

The secret service which should protect the interests of the state has been the grounds for political battles, with SOVA being hit by scandals under every government. Its agents have even been on strike and the agency has become a "caricature of itself, a disgrace for the country."

Each government has been employing their people in the agency following the party affiliation or family lines, with the first public call for applications being published only this year. "A bunch of rotten eggs have ended up in SOVA's nest."

In this "spy brothel", there are few innocent politicians who would be without a sin, and the battle for SOVA, for who will use it and (probably) abuse it for their political goals, is actually a battle for power.

"Politicians who should act from the position of statesmen towards SOVA, they engage in politicking. And then everybody are surprised by intelligence information produced by SOVA having practically no applicable value."

All our posts in this series are here

24 Oct 2019, 21:45 PM

STA, 24 October 2019 - David Tasić, a former journalist of the weekly Mladina, a publisher and one of the four political convicts in the JBTZ trial, a key event in the mosaic of Slovenian independence, has died, the newspaper Delo reported on Thursday.

Tasić was born in Kurševac, Serbia, in 1962. Between 1981 and 1989 he was a journalist and editor for Mladina.

He covered political events in Slovenia and Yugoslavia, and opened up topics that were considered taboo at the time. His feuilleton on Goli Otok, an island in Croatia where Yugoslav authorities deported political prisoners, raised a lot of dust.

On 31 May 1988, Janez Janša, a Mladina journalist at the time, and private Ivan Borštner were arrested for leaking a military document. Four days later, on 4 June 1988, Tasić and the magazine's editor-in-chief Franci Zavrl were also arrested.

The arrests led to the formation of a committee for the protection of Janša's rights, which later evolved into the Human Rights Committee, which organised mass protests against trying civilians in a military court and against the trials being held in the Serbian language, the language used in the Yugoslav People's Army.

At the end of June 1988, the Yugoslav People's Army court sentenced Borštner to four years in prison, Janša and Zavrl to 18 months, and Tasić to five months.

In mid-October 1988, the Military Supreme Court in Belgrade upheld the sentences and raised the punishment for Tasić to ten months, but none of the defendants served out their full sentences.

Apart from energising the fight for human rights, the JBTZ trial - named after the initials of the four defendants - spurred pluralisation and speeded up Slovenia's transition to independence and democracy, which is known as Slovenian Spring.

Tasić left Mladina in 1989 and went on to set up one of the first independent private publishers in Slovenia, Založba Karantanija. Since 1999, he focussed on studying phaleristics and kept a low public profile.

Taking to Twitter, Janša, who now leads the opposition Democrats (SDS), said Tasić "was a hero of the Slovenian Spring in 1988 and 2014, a good and upright man, and a fighter for freedom and light".

Zavrl told the STA that Tasić "was extremely honest and uncorrupted, and did not tolerate injustice. As a journalist he was always polite, yet also critical."

He sees Tasić's role in the JBTZ scandal as extremely important: "He was at the very centre of developments. He had the courage to take this little stone - which the

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