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Andrej Aplenc, MSc: The Fact That the Deep State Promotes a New Face for Every Election Is a Syndrome of the Unfinished Transition

We talked to publicist Andrej Aplenc, MSc, about the socio-political events in Slovenia, the European Union and the United States of America, and the related increasingly tense and explosive international events. As a man who survived the communist totalitarianism, experienced American democracy and the Slovenian transition, he describes himself as an “old democrat,” who actively monitors both Slovenian as well as American media outlets, and forms his own opinion, based on everything that is happening. So, his thoughts are still very fresh and definitely worth paying attention to. 

Mr Aplenc, you experienced the communist camp on Goli Otok firsthand. Some time ago, a book by the Croatian historian, Dr Martin Previšić, with the title “The History of Goli Otok,” was published in Slovenian (Zgodovina Golega Otoka). Is it possible to say that the Yugoslav communist dictator, Josip Broz – Tito, despite the conflict with Stalin in 1948, followed his example and used his totalitarian methods? And followed the example of the Soviet gulag system…

I believe he upgraded Stalin’s methods. The methods of Goli Otok were different from the methods of gulags and Nazi camps in one key thing – that is, re-education was based on coercion, enforced by difficult physical labour and hunger, which forced the prisoners to commit morally and ethically questionable acts, such as beating fellow prisoners and betray them. According to some estimates, two-thirds to three-quarters of prisoners succumbed to this. Some of us did not do that, and therefore we were later imprisoned on Goli Otok for the second time.

In 1997, your book entitled “The Sale of Slovenia” (Prodaja Slovenije) was published, and in 2019, the publishing company Nova obzorja (New Horizons) published a book entitled “Transition” (Tranzicija). Do you agree with those who still say today that the transition in Slovenia is not over yet?

Of course it is not over yet; just look at our political scene. The leftists want to nationalise private companies and bring us back to socialism; a billion and a half of laundered Iranian terrorist money in the NLB Bank still has no epilogue; the chosen new face of the deep state is a millionaire who populistically declares himself to be a social democrat. Something like this is only possible in a transitional state; it would not be possible in any established democracy. And one more thing: the new face. The deep state is once again promoting the “new face” while forgetting about the “old faces” of Europe: Winston Churchill, Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman, Helmut Kohl, Angela Merkel and so on. These were all old faces who were active in politics until their old age. The fact that the deep state promotes a new face for every election is a syndrome of the unfinished transition.

With your colleague, Dr Janez Jerovšek, and the Institute for the Revival of the Civil Society, you have been dealing with the Slovenian media space a lot in the past decades. How did you see the media space in the last two years when the centre-right government came to power, and the Slovenian mainstream media outlets became opposition media overnight?

They went completely wild – which is not really all that surprising, as they are run by the players of the deep state. You cannot usually find a daily collection of fake news this easily. Every morning, I have fun reading the headlines of the articles in the dominant media outlets, which, if you look at them from a critical distance, suggest biased reporting and censorship, as they report on events that are politically hostile but choose not to report on other events, and in any case – everything is always the government’s fault. The real reason for this savagery of the dominant media is, in my opinion, the fear of the deep state that it is losing its political influence and thus also its transitional financial resources. In short, in Slovenia, we are light years away from the pluralistic press that they have in Western democracies, which anyone can read online – and I certainly do.

Do you expect that the national media outlet, Radio and Television Slovenia, will finally start serving its purpose after last year’s personnel changes and the renewed programme council? Does that mean that it will finally be more pluralistic, objective, and professional – also in the field of the news programme?

I would not bet on it. On RTV Slovenia, there is an active group of journalists who, as we all know, came to the hall where the programme council had a meeting uninvited (!) and hung a poster that read “Death to Janšaism.” So far, nothing has happened to them. What would have happened if the English journalists of the BBC hung a poster that read “Death to Johnsonism,” or the German journalists hung a poster that read “Death to Merkelism”? It would be a European media scandal, with consequences. But nothing happened in Slovenia. RTV has traditionally been the propaganda bulletin of the transitional left. Changing that is more difficult than brushing a crocodile’s teeth. If anyone thinks this is an exaggeration, I advise them to read Žarko Petan’s book, entitled “The Repetition of History, the Story of RTVS” (Ponavljanje zgodovine, zgodba RTVS). Žarko Petan was the second Director-General of RTVS after Slovenia gained its independence. Exponents of the transitional left even went to the Constitutional Court to get him removed from the post. In addition to all of this, it must also be said that there are also journalists at RTV who, regardless of their political beliefs, perform their work professionally, and some have been doing it ever since we gained our independence.

Let’s move on to the Slovenian, domestic political scene. A few days ago, two years passed since the President of the LMŠ party, Marjan Šarec, resigned from the post of Prime Minister. On Twitter, someone jokingly wrote that this should be the new “Thanksgiving Day,” as Šarec did a great favour to the Slovenian nation with his resignation. It was his best political move. Do you agree with this?

That was a good Twitter joke. However, I believe that Marjan Šarec resigned so quickly due to the orders of the deep state, as he did not even inform his coalition partners about it beforehand. All the alarm bells were ringing in the country, the pandemic was here, but there were no state supplies of masks, machines, and other necessities needed by hospitals and the medical staff during the pandemic. The deep state consciously decided to “give” this immensely difficult position to Janez Janša, to solve the coronavirus crisis. And this is the second time that something like that has happened. The first time it happened was during the financial crisis, which the then-Janša government successfully overcame, and here I want to specifically point out two people I believe were most responsible for that – Janez Janša and then-Minister of Finance, Janez Šušteršič. However, after the state finances were finally stabilised, Janša was imprisoned with false accusations in the Patria affair in order to prevent him from winning the elections. Well, I do not think they will imprison him again this time – I do not think they would dare to do something like that again. However, all of this clearly shows that the deep state is well aware that it does not have any capable people who can successfully lead the country during a crisis. And besides, no one would expect this from the “new faces,” as they merely carry out what the deep state that sets them up imposes on them, while they themselves are actually incompetent and have no experience in resolving crisis situations.

At the end of last year, the government successfully ensured that the tenth anti-corona legislative package, which is intended to help the population and the economy, was adopted in the National Assembly. In these last two years, during the epidemic of the novel coronavirus, the government did a great job. What is your assessment of the work of the current government?

Its work is excellent. Unemployment is the lowest it has ever been in our history, and economic growth is the highest. We are at the forefront in Europe in this sense. There is nothing to add to this. And, by the way, this is also the reason that the mainstream media went wild.

And on the other hand, how would you assess the left-wing opposition – the SD, LMŠ, Left and SAB parties, united in the so-called Constitutional Arch Coalition, which tried to overthrow this government with interpellations, a constitutional accusation, votes of no confidence, and many other things?

In the crisis situation, the government of Janez Janša took a number of measures to reduce the effects of the pandemic and to provide financial support to the economy. After it became clear that these measures were working, in particular, financial support for the economy and the crisis adjustment of the situation in hospitals, the deep state suddenly changed its tactics. I think it was very surprised, as its original intention was to set a pandemic trap for Janša and thus cause the government to collapse. However, the opposite happened. Financial support for the economy has generally been recognised as very successful among entrepreneurs, vaccination centres worked well, and the entire healthcare system has not collapsed yet, despite the heavy burdens. In short, the government was successful, and since the elections are drawing nearer, panic suddenly reigned in the subjects of the deep state. This was followed by a change in the tactics of the deep state, which now focused on overthrowing the government of Janez Janša. They decided to overthrow the government, regardless of the price that everyone would have to pay. The fact is that the Constitutional Arch Coalition has behaved extremely non-state-building and destructive towards the vital interests of all Slovenians – I am specifically referring to their opposition to vaccination and practically all government measures related to the pandemic here. They were also joined in their endeavours by the mainstream media, including the largest commercial television Pop TV and the national media outlet RTVS. Let’s just think back to their reports on the “political cyclers.” Recently, however, this reporting has changed considerably, as no one can openly oppose vaccination when we see people die in the hospitals every day, especially the unvaccinated, and when medical facilities are extremely overburdened and staff are extremely exhausted.

And how do you assess the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union? It seems to me that Slovenia has given the Union, at least in part, a sort of strategic compass, which it often lacks…

I agree with you there. The government, and especially Prime Minister Janez Janša and Minister of Foreign Affairs Anže Logar, along with their teams, have gained a great reputation throughout Europe, on the basis of what has been done and achieved during Slovenia’s presidency.

During the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the rather chaotic withdrawal of the American army and its Western allies from Afghanistan also happened. What did you think about this withdrawal, also considering that your son and daughter live in the USA and that you also have American citizenship?

The withdrawal of the US military did have a lot of support from the Americans, but it was carried out catastrophically. No one was held responsible for that, but somebody should be. This raises the question of why have the Americans failed to establish a stable democratic structure that would neutralise the Taliban? The claim that this is not possible in principle is wrong. The Americans have done just that twice in the past already – after the end of World War II in Japan and in Germany. At the time, the US government hired anthropologist Ruth Benedict to give them advice, and her belief was that Japan could be changed within its culture. They also succeeded in Germany, where they hired a number of scientists to advise them on how to turn defeated Nazi Germany into a democracy. I do not know why this failed in Afghanistan, nor do I know whether radical Islamism has anything to do with it.

Does this threaten the US dominance in the world, especially in light of China’s growing influence in the world, and the fact that the United States is facing a number of domestic political problems – from the fierce conflict between Democrats and Republicans to the escalating racial issue, the deteriorating “melting pot” and also the many leftist deviations that undermine the cohesiveness of the American society?

The American primacy in the world is, indeed, under threat. The domestic political situation in the United States is one that I do not remember from the times when I lived there. However, I believe that traditional democracy, the independence of the judiciary and, very importantly, the freedom and plurality of print and television media will help the United States to return politically to where it was in the past.

With the current rising tensions in the relations with the Russian Federation, the question arises as to whether the US President Joe Biden will really risk a conflict with the Russians because of Ukraine or whether there is something else behind it. For example, economic interests or trying to prove that he is a strong leader after the Kabul fiasco…

I do not think the armed conflict will happen. Everyone knows this would be too dangerous.

Well, on the other hand, this begs the question of how serious these plans really are, as we know that this largest country in the world also has a number of problems and that China is basically threatening it, even though it is in a kind of forced alliance with it, due to the American pressure…

As I said, I do not think the armed conflict will happen because that would be too dangerous. All statesmen are aware of this. Of course, there will also be no concessions on the outside, as no one wants to seem like a weakling. I think the tensions will slowly cool down.

And how do you think the European Union should act in light of all of this?

What is happening with the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny is unacceptable. This must be strongly condemned. Europe must uphold the European values that Russia does not have, but at the same time also insist on constructive dialogue and strive to calm down the relations with Russia.

What do you expect from the new German centre-left government? It would probably be much better for Germany and Europe to have, for example, a government led by the new President of the German CDU, Friedrich Merz, who thinks more traditionally and rationally?

What’s done is done. Merkel was too strong, and there were no real successors. And besides, I believe that everything is changing, and so will this.

As we approach the end of our interview, let us return to Slovenia, which will have its parliamentary elections at the end of April. What do you think of the fact that we are once again faced with the phenomenon of the so-called new face before the elections and with a “messiah” that is Robert Golob?

I am surprised that the deep state opted for Robert Golob. How could a millionaire be a social democrat? And how did he even get the contract to be able to sell the cheapest electricity from the nuclear power plant? No one has provided an explanation for this yet, not even which government allowed it and why. These are the questions that should be asked during the election campaign, questions which he will have to answer. At least, I hope that will be the case, although I believe that the dominant media will try to push these issues into the background.

And finally, why is it necessary to go to the polls at the end of April and cast your vote? What is your final thought?

The answer is clear. If we Slovenians want to complete the transition and become a normal democratic state, we must go to the polls and cast our vote for the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS).


Andrej Aplenc, MSc, was born on the 2nd of September 1930, in Ljubljana. As a high schooler and then a student, he was imprisoned on Goli Otok twice. He received his master’s degree in 1970 from the Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, in the USA. In 1990 he returned to Slovenia. Since then, he has been active in civil society organisations, which have been critically assessing the political situation and the print and television media in Slovenia. In 1999, he was one of the co-founders of the Institute for the Revival of the Civil Society, where he was co-editor of the publications the Media Constructions of the Slovenian Reality in 2002 and the Media and Human (Non)Freedom in 2008, published in the Dignitas magazine, in the Nova Revija Publishing House. He is the author of the book The Sale of Slovenia, which was published by Mladinska knjiga in 1997, and was also a columnist in the magazines Ampak, Mag, and Demokracija. Based on these columns, he also published the book “Transition” in 2019 at the Nova obzorja Publishing house. His son and daughter live in the United States with their families, where they have successful academic careers.

Metod Berlec

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