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Černač: Slovenia Has Lost All Credibility

Following the media revelation of the European Commission’s slap on the wrist to the government of Robert Golob, the question of competence of the current leadership of the country is a question that cannot be avoided any longer. Zvone Černač, former Minister of Cohesion, believes that the acquisition of European Union funds could have been much more successful, especially without sending false data to Brussels.

“If the government was led by the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), Janez Janša, this would certainly not have happened. False data would not have been sent to the European Commission, as even Minister Alenka Bratušek has made public. The claim for compensation for damage also included buildings that do not even exist yet. An example of this is the Luče bypass,” pointed out former Minister Zvone Černač.

Namely, after the catastrophic floods that hit Slovenia last August, the European Commission announced financial and technical assistance to Slovenia. The latter was needed to prepare the relevant documentation, which is a prerequisite for the absorption of EU funds. This was followed by a series of speeches by representatives of the authorities, in which the damage estimates were drastically increased every time, until they reached the final estimate of 10 billion euros. However, the estimates of the professional community were much lower. In the meantime, documentation was being prepared, on the basis of which the affected areas could receive the promised financial assistance. The documentation was prepared by an inter-ministerial working group, led by State Secretary (now Minister of Justice) Andreja Katič from the Social Democrats party (Socialni demokrati – SD). However, as we have learned in a media expose by the newspaper Dnevnik, the documentation in question is the reason why the money has still not reached Slovenia, because the European Commission’s letter reveals that it included projects that do not even exist yet, certain damaged buildings were counted several times, and in some cases the estimated extent of the damage drastically exceeded the actual damage.

A different approach, without false promises

“The approach would have been completely different, the damage would not have been inflated, but instead, it would have been assessed realistically. Nor would we have burdened those affected with false promises that a hundred homes could be built in a month, or three hundred in three months, as Golob did. According to this logic, the replacement buildings should have been built by the end of last year. However, to date, not a single one has been built. If the government was being led by the Slovenian Democratic Party, people and businesses would not have been unnecessarily burdened with additional taxes, which is what Golob’s coalition has done. Despite the opposition of the SDS party, they enacted the so-called ‘solidarity tax’ and abolished it two months later, when they realised their own mistake. In short, the approach would have been different, and the damage that the people suffered would have been fixed more quickly. People would not have been given false promises,” Černač believes.

The coalition rejects good initiatives

In the interview, he also recalled a proposal tabled by the Slovenian Democratic Party two months ago. This would have allowed compensation to be paid to those who did not yet have a house number but already lived in the buildings that were damaged. However, the coalition rejected the proposal, explaining that they would handle it differently, without a law. “To date, none of these people have been compensated for their damages,” Černač pointed out.

“One such example was the family with a five-month-old baby who saved themselves by having the father break through the ceiling in the new building so that they could save themselves, and then they waited for the water to drain away. Their lives were saved, but since the (otherwise finished) house was only missing the house number, they were not technically entitled to compensation for damages due to a legal provision. And to this day, they are not. This is a scandal,” explained the former minister.

On the unnecessary inflation of damages

We also ask the former minister about the media “spin” that emerged almost immediately after the content of the European Commission’s letter was revealed. The dominant media coverage would suggest that the delay in payment is a normal occurrence, as is the incorrect claiming of damages.

Černač said the following: “The mechanism is known, the percentages are known, and the inflation of the damages was completely unnecessary and harmful. Slovenia has lost all credibility for the future. In any case, Slovenia would have been entitled to the 400 million euros from the Solidarity Mechanism, based on the realistic damage assessment. It is also telling that the news of the Golob government’s fiasco in applying for Solidarity Mechanism funding after last August’s storm did not reach the mainstream media until after the elections, even though the information was already known before the elections.”

Ž. K.

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