In the following, we publish the address of the Prime Minister Janez Janša to the citizens.
Together with the rest of Europe and most of the northern hemisphere, we are at the beginning of the cold wave of the coronavirus pandemic. A pandemic affects everyone. The situation is very serious and there is no point in embellishing anything. First of all, on behalf of the government, I would like to express my sincere condolences to all of you who lost your loved ones in the pandemic.
As early as April and May, I have repeatedly warned, along with some other EU leaders, that a new, cold wave of the virus awaits us in the autumn, which will be more difficult if we do not have an effective vaccine and / or medicine or at least a mandatory electronic application for tracking infections. We still don’t have any of that today. In Slovenia, after great difficulties, we secured the legal basis for the mandatory application in July already – but the realization stalled in the domestic and European bureaucratic swamp, stacked privacy concerns as well as an inability to find original solutions in exceptional situations at both levels. Many were more concerned about what the Information Commissioner or the media would say than how many people would have to suffer and die because we did not procure the tools that the digital age offers to all.
Europe is waking up after the last European Council, but the delay will not be made up in time.
Dear Slovenians, citizens, dear compatriots:
How things will go forward depends on all of us, on each individual, on all our commitment, our perseverance, persistance, courage, stubbornness and solidarity. Winter is just around the corner. We watched how Australia just ended the winter. It wasn’t easy. Something similar awaits us. This pandemic is not just a huge health challenge, but a test for all of humanity. Especially for us Slovenians. Yesterday, a well-known Slovenian writer sent me a letter asking if a nation that is not even able to bury its dead from the last century without quarreling is even capable of so much real solidarity with the most endangered living that we will be able to do so?
I am convinced that we are certainly capable of this majority solidarity. Ne narekujejo jo zgolj čustva, ampak tudi zdrav razum. But the majority alone is not enough to succeed, as we have seen in the past two months. We need all of us, or at least the very vast majority. The plebiscite majority of reason and solidarity.
The cold wave of the pandemic in recent weeks has threatened even the capabilities of the best health systems in the world, such as the Dutch, German or Austrian. No one has an unlimited number of doctors and nurses at their disposal, nor is it possible and it does not make sense to stop all other urgent medical interventions, as this only does additional damage, additional suffering and death. When the number of infected is too high, simply following basic preventative rules of behavior no longer stops the virus effectively enough.
So the only defense against the general breakdown of the health care system is a drastic limitation of our contacts with others. Something that our generations before this pandemic had never experienced on such a scale.
It is therefore understandable that measures to restrict people-to-people contacts are not taken with applause anywhere in the democratic world. That there are professional and political discussions about them everywhere, and they are necessary and desirable in our country as well. No one is infallible, especially not in a situation where we have to make decisions in exceptional circumstances, in a country with subsystems that are stifled in obstacles even at the most ordinary time. We therefore take criticism of the government and our measures as part of the democratic debate. However, lies and misinformation, erasing the distinction between what is true and what is not, the use of double standards and the emphasis on reporting actions that deny the need to stop the epidemic and make fun of measures do not contribute to democratic debate. And more than that. They nullify the efforts of the majority and especially the efforts of all on the front lines to limit the epidemic. We therefore call on various influencers who claim that the government is taking steps to intimidate people to stop. That was enough. The whole democratic world is taking action because it values and protects life. Exploiting the global health crisis for demolition is an abuse of distress, it is a wasteful, worthless doing.
On the other hand, during these difficult months we were extremely helped by self-initiative individuals who at all levels were involved as experts in monitoring and analyzing trends, studying foreign experiences, preparing their own production of protective and medical equipment and in preparing of guidelines for the five anti-crisis packages adopted so far.
These days, the government is completing the preparation of the sixth package of measures to mitigate the effects of the epidemic. It will be on the benches of members of the National Assembly next week. Unfortunately, this will not be the last required package.
The pandemic itself as well as many measures to stop it have been and still are extremely stressful in our country and elsewhere. Not only because of the restriction of our freedom, but also because of the impact on the economy and most other vital activities. A longer period of restrictions in education, culture, spiritual and all other activities that are the binder of our community cannot pass without negative consequences. Therefore, our common, urgent, mandatory strategic goal is to control the epidemic as soon as possible to the point where it will not jeopardize the normal functioning of healthcare and when we will be able to control it again by consistently tracking contacts, as during the summer months.
We can do this if we are consistent.
Due to the decision of the Constitutional Court, we are limited to taking measures that can last only a week without a new assessment. But regardless of the Constitutional Court, it is clear that some measures will have to take longer. In fact, we have at least a month of hard fighting the virus in front of us and then also months of great caution. With better availability of rapid antigen tests, it will be easier to limit individual outbreaks of the virus.
If we are successful in the coming weeks, we will be able to spend Christmas and New Year more normally than an autumn school holidays. However, the winter will be long. At the last meeting of European leaders, a discussion was held on the assessments of the European Commission, which envisages the possibility of general vaccination in the months from April to June next year. If some appropriate vaccine is available sooner, it will be available primarily to at-risk groups.
It will be difficult, but we will be able to. Because the vast majority of us are aware that by taking urgent action, we are protecting everything we have as a community. Unlike the pessimism and anger that still radiates from many announcements, the concrete work on the front lines and the immense willingness of many to step in and help prove that we increasingly understand what is on the scales. That by consciously limiting our contacts, we are protecting just that. In this way, we enable that interpersonal contacts, meetings and also parties can soon be part of our normal everyday life again. That we understand that we protect our own and others’ freedom by being responsible. Because no law or measure can defeat the virus. The virus can only be defeated by reason, which tells us that we must temporarily give up any unnecessary contact, and by mutual solidarity, which dictates that we pay attention to others as well and that we stand together in a way that we don’t socialize.
Slovenia does not have the best health care system in Europe, but it has the most self-sacrificing people working in it. Therefore, no one will be left without emergency help or intensive care. I sincerely and again thank everyone in white and blue robes.
Slovenia is not the richest country in Europe, but nevertheless, just as we have solidarily helped the most affected in the economy and services in the spring, we will also help in the autumn and winter. We thank all of you who, even in these difficult conditions, drive the economy and emergency services, produce and supply food and everything else that is necessary for life.
Slovenia does not have a monolithic executive power, namely it has a coalition government. But the wider team of this government, together with professional teams, has been doing extremely hard double work since March, full of difficult decisions, sleepless nights, justified and unjustified criticism, media pogroms and weighing over double standards. It is a real little miracle that it works at all in such conditions. But it works and will continue to work. We are as resilient as Slovenian nation, which has not been uprooted from its land by centuries of storms. I would like to thank all my colleagues. The essence of the present is often hidden from view, but time always reveals what is obvious.
Winter will be long and demanding. For nature, this is a time of rest. But we have hard work ahead of us, a lot of sacrifices and the extraordinary responsibility of each of us to ourselves and everyone else. Let’s support with all our strength our health workers, epidemiologists, members of civil protection, employees in nursing homes, police officers, soldiers, inspectors, saleswomen, employees in critical areas and everyone else on the front lines. Because if they can get through this, we can, too.
And when we look back to the present in a year, we will be proud of Slovenia.