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A Hooligan And A Dismissed Director To Represent Slovenia At The International Book Fair

Slovenia is going to be the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is a great event that has the potential to help our impoverished publishing industry, where almost no one sells books at a profit anymore, and most writers and publishers can no longer even recoup the costs of publishing. The Frankfurt Book Fair is at least as important an event for books as the Oscars are for film. It is the epicentre of the global book industry, where acquaintances and business deals are made, and Slovenian authors are promoted worldwide. It is, therefore, important that Slovenia is properly and decently represented. But there has been some worrying news that suggests that Slovenia’s appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair will be anything but successful, as it will apparently be more of an opportunity to promote the extreme radicals who fought tirelessly against the previous government.

As former MP, journalist and advisor to the Minister of Culture Miro Petek wrote on social media, Vuk Čošić will also participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair as the chair of a round table on artificial intelligence, while Renata Zamida will moderate it. The names may not be familiar to you at first glance, as they are second-class fighters of the socialist revolution who fought “in the trenches” during the Janša government – Čošić did almost literally that.

A vandal will chair the Frankfurt Book Fair Round Table

It was Ćošić who led the group of young men who defaced the facade of the Ministry of Culture with yellow swastikas in the summer of 2021. Surveillance camera footage revealed that the group of men had come to the Ministry, then headed by Minister Vasko Simoniti, from Metelkova Street, and the footage showed that they later also returned there, with one of the hooligans almost being hit by a car as they crossed the road.

At the time, that was only the latest of the attacks by far-leftists on the building of the Ministry of Culture and its employees. Previously, activists had destroyed the facade of the building with black paint, permanently damaged the windows, continuously drew graffiti and threatened civil servants – at the time, a female employee of the Ministry reported the rapper Zlatko for, among other things, threatening to kill her.

It later became known that one of the swastika painters at the Ministry of Culture was Čosić – an activist and former digital strategist for the Social Democrats party (Socialni demokrati – SD). The Ministry filed criminal charges against the perpetrators – including Čošić – which were then dismissed by the prosecutor’s office, in the expected manner of Slovenian justice that makes rulings based on the principle of ours-or-theirs. This same Čosić will now chair a round table on artificial intelligence, while the Ministry is headed by the far-leftist Asta Vrečko.

Zamida is in court due to being charged with corruption, and now she will moderate

Even more unusual is the choice of Renata Zamida, former Director of the Slovenian Book Agency (JAK), as moderator. Zamida was removed from the position of Director under the previous Minister Simoniti and reported to the police on suspicion of corruption during her time in office. The fact that the previous Minister of Culture, Zoran Poznič, wanted to remove her for similar reasons also shows that this was not a “political” move. This is a person who is politically supported by the Left party (Levica).

The decision to dismiss her, which had already been initiated by Poznič’s Ministry, states that Zamida had failed to carry out even the basic tasks she was obliged to perform as Director, including:

In 2018 and 2019, the Slovenian Book Agency did not award scholarships to top authors in the field of fiction and humanities, in violation of the law. The Council of the Agency noted that the preparations of the Agency for the Slovenian presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair under the leadership of Zamida were inadequate and therefore adopted a decision that the management of the Agency should prepare a crisis management plan for the Frankfurt 2023 project as soon as possible. The Agency, under the leadership of Zamida, failed to register on the list of the Ministry of the Interior’s registers in accordance with the Regulation on joint public procurement, which public authorities are obliged to do. As a result, it is unable to participate in the public administration’s joint procurement system and has to purchase goods such as electricity, water, mail, and computer equipment on the market, which is significantly more expensive.

In addition to Zamida’s failure to carry out her duties, the Agency found several irregularities and suspicions of corruption:

– A pre-arranged tender for investment and maintenance works, which was designed to favour a specific contractor.
– Signing of business contracts with persons who did not have a registered activity to carry out according to the contract.
– The signing of a lease agreement with a private publishing house – the Director of which is a member of the Agency’s Council – allowing the establishment of a bookshop-café. At the same time, Zamida did not obtain the consent of the Ministry of Culture, which constitutes a clear breach of due diligence, since the real-estate, which was the subject of the contract, is owned by the Ministry.

Zamida has not yet proved her innocence; the court has ruled she was rightly dismissed

These are serious allegations against which Zamida is still defending herself in court. In her defence, when she was removed as Director, she did not explain why she rented out the café-bookstore for a very low price, not to just anyone, but to one of the Agency’s officials – under strange circumstances.

In addition, Zamida was also known for wanting to ensure, by any means necessary, the publication of a cookbook by Ana Roš, which the taxpayers would have helped to finance, even though it was not fiction of any kind.

Zamida sued the Ministry, claiming that Simoniti’s Ministry had fired her unjustly, but the court rejected her claim and ruled that she was rightly dismissed.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is just another opportunity to promote the far left

It is obvious that the Ministry of Culture will – as is usual for this government – make the Frankfurt Book Fair just another shameful place for the far-left to promote their business and ideology. The involvement of Ćošić and Zamida, two highly controversial individuals, is a big spit in the face of hundreds of officials, experts and politicians who have worked for years, including through the pandemic, to make Slovenia’s presentation at the Book Fair as successful as possible. It is a mockery of the people in this year-and-a-half-long post-election party of the far left, which, drunk on victory, has pushed its most decorated soldiers with a history of criminal charges, incompetence and suspicions of corruption into every pore of society. We can only hope that this slide into the abyss will end soon.

We have therefore sent the following question to the Ministry of Culture:

“The news that Vuk Čošić will chair a panel discussion at the Frankfurt Book Fair and Renata Zamida will be the moderator is resounding in the public. In the past, the Ministry has filed criminal charges against Čošić for drawing swastikas on a building with a group of his helpers. Renata Zamida was dismissed as Director for incompetence and suspected corruption (the corruption case is still ongoing, and the court has already found that she was rightly dismissed). How do you comment on the criticism of the decision to have two such controversial figures with a colourful history of irregularities and activism, among other things, representing Slovenia at the Frankfurt Book Fair?”

M. I.

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