During the term of the government of Janez Janša, Slovenian media outlets tied to obscure the actual reach of the then-Prime Minister in any way possible. Sometimes with ill-placed criticism – for example, on the occasion of the historic visit of the three statesmen to Kyiv, sometimes with ill-natured ridicule, and when all else failed, with silence. But then Robert Golob ascended to power, and the opposite started to happen. First, we read about Golob’s alleged extraordinary discussion in Foreign Policy, which was almost certainly arranged, and then we heard straight from the Prime Minister’s mouth that he was selling ideas to Europe and the whole world. How many ideas he has actually managed to sell and what his actual reach is in Europe, let alone the world, was clear from his last address to the Members of the European Parliament. During Golob’s address, the plenary chamber of the European Parliament was, quite unsurprisingly, empty.
In his speech, the Prime Minister focused on three key themes – the green transition, the rule of law and geopolitical efforts. But before talking about the great challenges of our time, he explained to those present that in his home country, he was the manager of one of the largest energy companies in the region. In relation to this, he also said that speculators in the energy sector should be prevented from speculating, as this is causing the drainage of state budgets. This is a significant statement, given that his government approved the transfer of 500 million euros for the recapitalisation of the Slovenian Power Plants Holding just a few days ago, shortly after the Prime Minister’s best man, Tomaž Štokelj, took over as the head of the holding. In addition, “Golob’s” Gen-I is said to also be facing similar troubles, with losses of as much as 700 million.
Golob then continued: “We need to show all speculators in the market that we are united. Believe me; I know what I am talking about because I used to do this for a living. We will not allow them to continue to drain our budgets and continue to weaken the global competitiveness of our industry for their own profit.” If the previous statement was telling, this one is even more so.
From the very beginning of the energy crisis, the economic sector has been pleading with the government to clip the wings of the electricity traders by setting the maximum allowed price of electricity. The Golob government refused to do so and, in return, offered assistance in the form of payments, which, according to the trade union organisations, will be nowhere near enough to cover the rising costs.
After that came Golob’s lecture on why Europeans should eat less meat in the name of climate change – to help our planet and our descendants. The photos from the address show just how interested the Members of the European Parliament were in Golob’s ideas – namely, the European Parliament was practically empty during Golob’s address. According to unnamed sources, the speech was not even attended by members of Slovenia’s left-wing political parties.
Golob wants to eradicate hate speech
In his speech, Golob then turned to the eradication of hate speech and freedom of speech. He argued that there is a fine balance between the two. The Prime Minister did not specify where exactly this balance was to be found, but if we allow ourselves a little artistic freedom, we would say that it is likely that, in Golob’s opinion, the balance was struck by Nika Kovač, head of a left-wing non-governmental organisation, when she called the voters who voted against Golob’s usurpation of the public media in the referendum on Radio-Television Slovenia evil.
Golob believes that the funded hate speech, which is being financed by some political forces, is the most problematic. Was he perhaps referring to the “Necenzurirano.si” (“Uncensored”) web portal, which, according to the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), received 600,000 euros from the state-owned Gen-I energy company, which was headed by Robert Golob until recently? The Prime Minister did not go into specifics.
In the continuation of his speech, Golob talked about the importance of the enlargement of the European Union, stressing in particular that Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been the victim of aggression in the past, really deserves a chance. “We must give the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina the opportunity to become equal European citizens,” he concluded.
The Prime Minister spoke in the European Hall of Democracy as part of the “This is Europe” series of debates, in which the Prime Ministers of the Member States present their visions for the future of the European Union. Despite all the criticism and the empty hall, Golob should be congratulated on his courage. His coalition colleague Marjan Šarec, a former Prime Minister, passed on the opportunity to address the Members of the European Parliament while he was still in office.