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It Is High Time for You to Stop!

In his latest book, Culture and Politics (Kultura in Politika in Slovenian), academic Janko Kos briefly but yet understandably and accurately explains the course of Slovenia’s transition from the communist rule to democracy. In the beginning, “an agreement was reached between the old communist elite and the bearers of the democratic renewal.” With the end of Drnovšek’s period, however, “a secret rift of historical compromise opened up and developed into an open conflict, which heralds the end of the social contract from 1990.” He goes on to write: The disunity of the new democratic parties, which could not unite in demanding major changes – in denationalisation and privatisation, the majority electoral system and lustration, changes in education and culture, the police and the army – was taken advantage of by the opposite side, in order to increase its share in the division of power. It seems that with its latest political moves, the opposite side wants to confirm the symbolic restoration of the communist half-past – with the preservation of political monuments, ideologically correct interpellations of the past, decorations, street names, posters, coins and celebrations… [1]

The “far-reaching representatives” of the democratic side want to replace the former compromise with “a new social contract that will be derived from a complete, not just partial, rejection of the post-war forms of totalitarianism.”

We see the resistance caused by such initiatives every day in the newspapers, on television and in the street, in interviews, declarations, public letters and campaigns for collecting signatures; in various installations, graffiti and protests – with or without the bicycles. The message of this resistance is perverted and paradoxical: opponents of totalitarianism are advocates of totalitarianism! On the (judicial, political and, above all, the media) dock, we have already seen: the generation that prepared and realised independence – in fact, all participants in the movement for an independent and democratic Slovenian state. Their opponents create the carefully fabricated accusations and then distribute them to all who are willing to believe them; they also publish them abroad and dictate them to foreign journalists or political people who fit them ideologically. It is a deliberate revision and reconstruction of reality, not only contempt but an actual annihilation of national achievements.

Diplomacy was mostly led by parties of the post-communist left
Examples of such a reconstruction of reality can be found whenever we want to find them – in the main printed media outlet, such as Dnevnik and Delo, as well as RTV Slovenia, Pop tv, and some other portals that are well-stocked with profitable advertisements. The author of this article – given my professional deformation – am, of course, most interested in foreign policy reports. A typical article was published by Delo’s Sobotna priloga during the holidays, in which it was written that after 2004, Slovenia was left “without ambitions and goals, it became a peripheral country without ideas and an uninteresting diplomacy observatory.” [2]
The disintegration of Slovenian diplomacy, which (in the last seventeen years?) was expressed by sending mediocre people as the ambassadors to key world centres, the author of the article, without bothering to fact check her claim, attributed to the current Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, without actually checking the calendar.

Among those who held important positions in the international community, she allowed herself to point out Danilo Türk, Samuel Žbogar and Melita Gabrič – as if their achievements should only be attributed to their personal talents and not to the decisions of the Slovenian state institutions (such as the government or Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Successful international careers have generally been the consequence of the affection of domestic decision-makers and successful careers at home. For example, the author overlooked Slovenia’s chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2005 and, ultimately, the chairmanship of the Council of the European Union (2008). She also did not mention the two accelerators or inhibitory factors: the fact that three quarters (3/4) of the time after 1990, the representation of Slovenia abroad was decided on by governments, led by the parties of the post-communist left, and that important positions in international organisations are not given to representatives of countries whose reputation is declining due to bizarre domestic policies, which is what happened to Slovenia after 2008. After all, Slovenian foreign policy was led for many years by a man who spoke virtually no foreign languages.

Three Slovenian lawyers also contributed to the demonisation of the government
The “misery” about which she writes, or rather, which the Delo journalist creates herself, fades away with the latest export article, prepared for the German web portal Verfassungsblog by three Slovenian professors: Bojan Bugarič from the Sheffield University Department of Law, Samo Bardutzky and Saša Zagorc from the Ljubljana Faculty of Law. Believe it or not, the cue for the article written by the three lawyers [3] are the tweets of the Slovenian Prime Minister and his accusation of the Brussels’ web portal Politico’s journalist of telling lies. Given that he does not have the majority in parliament, the Slovenian government is said to have used the “tactics of a ruthless constitutional game” to tear down the existing norms of the constitutional order. The three lawyers identified five (5) cases of disruptiveness:

  1. delays in appointing prosecutors,
    2. delays in deciding on the number of available enrolment places at the universities,
    3. tensions between the government and the media, especially the Slovenian Press Agency,
    4. merits and benefits of the President of the Court of Audit Vesel, and
    5. interfering in the appointment of heads of important public institutions, for example, the National Bureau of Investigation.

With all their horror and rejections of disruptiveness, however, the three lawyers still note:

  1. that the Slovenian government has so far failed to achieve any significant legislative reform,
    2. that (in the case of enrolment places at the universities) no damage has been done by the government when it increased the number of available places at the Faculties of Medicine and Computer Science, and
    3. that the disruptiveness cannot be unjustified a priori, for example, when it comes to regulating ingrained social, political and economic forces.

They conclude their article with predictions of developments after the next elections: if the current government loses the election, the next government will have to work with institutions that have survived two years of disruptiveness; if it wins, the independent institutions will be further discredited and weakened; in addition, the disruptiveness may affect the “cooperative” behaviour of social actors who will remain silent for fear of new disruptiveness. This would mark the beginning of “autocratic legalism.”

The main question that the reader of the article on ruthlessness and destructiveness cannot help but ask himself will, of course, be – what did the three lawyers even want to communicate or achieve? After all, they say that the current Slovenian government’s conduct was not illegitimate and did not cause serious damage.

In the case of the government’s demands to the Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovna agencija – hereinafter referred to as the STA), everyone understands that the government is interested in the operations of the company it had established and which should be committed to the impartial treatment of all social institutions and political orientations. Anyone can understand that the government is interested in the financial results of a state-owned/public institution that combines state support with marketing activity. What is perhaps more unusual than the government’s interest in this is the fact that the (combined) earnings allow the director of the STA to have the salary at least twice as high as that of the Prime Minister.

As for the President of the Court of Audit, it is clear to any citizen that it is difficult to entrust the control of state money to someone whose fee for the work they do in their free time is four times as high as their state salary, which is equal to the salaries of the state officials.

It is clear to any sensible analyst that, of course, no damage has been done by the government adding more enrolment places for certain faculties, which – especially in times when we need more doctors and more computer experts – obviously produce too few graduates, and therefore, this decision cannot be controversial. What is controversial, however, is something that the lawyers kept quiet about: that the Slovenian universities, especially the University of Ljubljana, produce many graduates of the programmes of the social sciences, who find it increasingly difficult to find employment or are willing to work for an insultingly low amount of money and strictly on behalf of certain clients and institutions.

The interest and concern for the efficient operation of the National Bureau of Investigation are certainly not unique to the Slovenian government, which is, after all, directly responsible for its work and is also the arbiter of its effectiveness. Our three lawyers, of course, kept quiet when the previous government and even a certain President of the Republic, that the Delo journalist (mentioned in the first part of the article) worships, dismissed and even forcefully retired certain ambassadors that were not to their liking. They were doing that for twenty-three (23) years.

After reading the article entitled “Slovenian Constitutional Hardball,” the reader cannot help but wonder whether the intention of the three lawyers was not merely to contribute to the demonisation of the current Slovenian government. What needs to be said is this: It is high time for you to stop!

Dimitrij Rupel

[1] Janko Kos, “Druga republika”, Kultura in politika, Ljubljana 2021, str. 188-189.

[2] Glej članek Saše Vidmajer “Mizerija male srednjeevropske države”, Sobotna priloga Dela, April 3rd 2021. Articles such as this one, do not really help the reputation of our country.

[3] Samo Bardutzky, Bojan Bugaric, Saša Zagorc, “Slovenian Constitutional Hardball – Disruptive moves towards an illiberal democracy” (Brezobzirna slovenska ustavna igra –  razdiralne poteze na poti k proti-liberalni demokraciji), Verfassungsblog, April 1st 2021 –

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