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Why Were Bratušek And Janković In A Rush To Sign The Controversial Annex On The Co-Financing Of The C0 Sewerage Channel?

Our editorial team has obtained the contract and annexes to the contract on the financing of the C0 sewerage channel. The story of Janković’s “shit pipeline” is becoming more and more complicated, and all the controversial and, last but not least, allegedly criminal and fraudulent practices related to the channel are coming to light. One of the landowners had difficulty in obtaining the documents in question because certain ministries refused to hand them over, and now it is clear why.

The financing contract was originally signed in 2018 by the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, by Minister Irena Majcen in the government of Miro Cerar, and by the Municipality of Ljubljana (MOL), signed by Mayor Zoran Janković. The contract value amounts to almost 11 million euros, excluding VAT, with just over 9 million euros from the European Union special-purpose funds and the rest from the Slovenian budget.

In the contract, the beneficiary, i.e. the Municipality of Ljubljana, agrees that the period of eligibility of the expenditure is until the 31st of December 2023. In the event of non-compliance with the contractual obligations, the co-financier may withdraw from the contract, and the beneficiary must reimburse the funds received, according to Article 11 of the contract. Although this deadline has already passed, Janković is still receiving money for the channel in question. “This is clearly a systemic circumvention of the EU law,” believes Aleš Mrzel.

Alenka Bratušek, Minister of Infrastructure, came to Janković’s rescue because the project is not finished yet, and he still needs money before the deadline. She signed Annex No 2 to the contract on the financing of the C0 channel, which extends “the last request for payment until the 30th of April 2024 at the latest,” according to the annex. The question is why Bratušek even signed this.

Certain indications have already come to light which indicate that former Minister for Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan had to leave in order for Bratušek to legalise the “Zoki shit pipeline”. And apparently, this is true. Let’s see why. As we have previously reported, the Municipality of Ljubljana has decided to apply for a building permit for the last few hundred metres of the controversial C0 channel in the Stožice area. However, the decision of “Brežan’s” Ministry, which decided that a comprehensive environmental impact assessment is needed for the construction of the C0 channel, caused quite a stir. Whether he had to leave because of this remains unknown, but it is clear that after his resignation, his Ministry was taken over by a Janković subordinate from the same political milieu – Alenka Bratušek, who signed the controversial Annex No. 2.

Why was the annex to the contract signed by Bratušek and not by the new minister?

This begs the question, why did Bratušek sign the annex, and why did she not wait for the new minister, who had already successfully passed his confirmation hearing the day before the signing?

To better understand this, let’s look at the timeline of events.

– The 6th of October 2023: Minister Uroš Brežan resigns. On the 9th of October, the National Assembly takes note of his resignation, thus ending his term of office. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning is temporarily headed by Bratušek.
– The 5th of December 2023: Jože Novak, candidate for the position of Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning, successfully passes his hearing.
– The 6th of December 2023: Zoran Janković and Alenka Bratušek sign the controversial annex to the C0 channel financing contract.
– The 7th of December 2023: Jože Novak is sworn in as Minister for Natural Resources and Spatial Planning.

It is extremely strange that Bratušek signed such important documents, even though she was only temporarily in charge of the Ministry until a new Minister was to be confirmed. And not only did she extend the deadline for Janković to get budget money for a dangerous project, but she also overrode important safeguards by signing it.

Whose pockets will the budget and European Union money go into?

The annex repealed Paragraph 5 of Article 11 of the contract, which states that “The beneficiary (the Municipality of Ljubljana) agrees that the funds referred to in Article 8 will be used for the purpose intended in accordance with the implementing contract and in accordance with the Commission’s implementing decision referred to in Article 3”. They have therefore declared that the funds from the Slovenian budget and the European money (millions) will be used for the intended purpose in accordance with the contract and the European Commission’s decisions.

They have also changed the contract administrator, who is linked to Janković

The annex also included a change of the contract administrator. In the original contract, the co-funder (i.e. the Ministry of the Environment) had appointed Uroš Cerar as the administrator for the monitoring, supervision and implementation of the contract, but in the annex, the administrator was changed to Stanko Kolbezen. Although he is not to be found in the ministries, we have found his name on the Municipality’s website, as he was working with Janković in the past. Namely, Janković handed over a precious gift made by Stanko Kolbezen to Igor Papič, the current Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of the Freedom Movement party – Gibanje Svoboda (at the time, Papič was the Rector of the University of Ljubljana). If this is the same person (which it most probably is), it remains open how an acquaintance of Janković’s can now be authorised to supervise and implement the contract on the part of the Ministry.

Will the European Commission act?

Slovenian Members of the European Parliament have already contacted the European Commission on several occasions about the environmentally damaging and potentially health-threatening C0 sewerage channel. MEP Dr Milan Zver has addressed several priority questions to the European Commission, as has MEP Romana Tomc. MEP Bogovič has brought the controversial European project to the attention of the Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform. Aleš Primc, a Ljubljana City Councillor from the Movement for Children and Families (Gibanje za otroke in družine), has also sent a letter to the relevant European institutions requesting a review of the construction of the C0 sewerage channel. The controversy has also been noted abroad, and the Co-President of the European Green Party, Thomas Waitz, who visited the C0 sewerage channel construction site, has also suggested to the European Commission that a review of the project be made. Perhaps the controversial documents and the revocation of an important article will only encourage the European institutions to stop Janković’s harmful project.

The Commission of Inquiry for determining wrongdoing in the construction of the C0 sewerage channel in the Ljubljansko Polje aquifer area

It is important to note here that the aquifer through which the C0 sewerage channel is supposed to run feeds water to 90 percent of the city, is critical infrastructure, and the only source of drinking water for 300,000 inhabitants and 150,000 daily visitors. The C0 sewerage channel threatens Ljubljana’s strategic and military security. It is on an earthquake fault and is not built to earthquake-resistant standards. During the floods in August 2023, the pipeline came into contact with the drinking water catchment. “This is a potentially very dangerous project, procedurally we have found that it has been illegal on several occasions, and technically, it is also problematic,” Aleš Prijon, former Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Environment, recently told the National Assembly’s Commission of Inquiry for determining wrongdoing in the construction of the C0 sewerage channel in the Ljubljansko Polje aquifer area, pointing out that even fraud had been detected in the project.

Nevertheless, the Commission of Inquiry is continuing its work, and tomorrow, it will hear as witnesses the ombudsmen Peter Svetina and Stasja Grkman.

A. G.

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