By: Davorin Kopše
The story does not begin with Tone Krkovič, but with Robert Golob, who is the CEO of Gen-i. It became known some time ago that the government will replace Golob in the role of the owner of this company. In fact, his term is coming to an end, and it appears he will no longer be appointed to the post. Many, including Golob himself, immediately jumped to their feet and engaged the media and part of opposition politics. In fact, we are looking at the denial of all mandates. From political to directors in the management and supervisory boards of state-owned companies.
An important piece of information is that Rok Snežič mentioned to Tone Krkovič in a telephone conversation that Golob would not be appointed for another term. Attention, he was told a well-known fact. This is important because Krkovič later told at a press conference that Rok Snežič had told him about it over the phone. If he talked to me, I would tell him too.
Many were shocked by the decision of Brigadier Tone Krkovič to step in front of the cameras in a sort of defence to Robert Golob in the Gen-i company. I listened to different ratings on social media and in private. Some allegations were made that Krkovič had acted to the detriment of the government and the SDS. Is that true? Maybe if we interpret it that way, but I would like to offer another explanation. The distribution of electricity, which is handled by Gen-i, falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Infrastructure. This is led by Minister Jernej Vrtovec from NSi.
It is rumoured that Anton Krkovič wanted to return to the Ministry of Defence (MD), which the local minister Matej Tonin allegedly refused. After being rejected by the Ministry of Defence, Krkovič found a job at the Gen-i company. He was supposedly hired by Golob. So, is it unusual that Krkovič reacted as he did? Anyone who has had at least a little fun with Krkovič’s character knows that his reaction is not unusual. He is eager to be a just rebel and, in that sense, he will never be any different. If he were not like that, he would not have resisted the disarmament of the Territorial Defence carried out by the Yugoslav People’s Army.
Krkovič is only one, appreciated and respected
I was a participant in the war for Slovenia. During the military clashes, I was in the ranks of the then de facto Slovenian police and not the militia, with a rifle in hand, ready for anything. In 1992, I joined the Slovenian Army and worked in this formation, designed by Anton Krkovič with his colleagues, for most of my working period. To the best of my ability, together with many others, I have contributed to the development and combat readiness of this venerable independence force for more than twenty years in various positions in the Slovenian Army.
The story of Krkovič thus began even before the formation of our state of Slovenia. It did not start with the intention of replacing Robert Golob on Gen-i. Due to the important role of Brigadier Krkovič and his contribution to the formation of the Slovenian Army and independence as such, my respect for him will never fade. Well, I will probably forget Golob relatively quickly.
In war, almost as a rule, the current generals do not prove themselves, but those from the background come to the fore. This was already the case for Krkovič before 1991 and during the conflicts in Slovenia. From the average, he stepped to the forefront and played his role with dignity. We could say that in the role of the chief of the manoeuvring structure of the national defence, he was the first chief of the general staff of the Slovenian army, although this was not the case at the time. With his staff, he planned a strategic way for the army to defend independent Slovenia. His circle of associates and the circle of the then Minister of Defence Janez Janša did exactly what the task of the General Headquarters was.
He was persecuted after the war
Mr. Krkovič achieved the military rank of brigadier. In many armies around the world, this is the rank of general, but in Slovenia, with this rank on your shoulders, you are waiting to be appointed general. Krkovič was not overly appreciated in military circles after the war. Personnel who graduated from the Yugoslav Military Academy or even selected with the Reserve Officers’ School (ŠRO) were anchored in many important places. Upon activation in the Slovene army, they retained the same level of ranks as they had as reservists. If these same ones were activated in the Yugoslav army, these ranks were not retained.
As far as I know, Krkovič also finished ŠRO, but he went on a different career path. He certainly did not belong to the camp of continuity after independence. He had a different mindset. He did not want to build on the remnants of a failed army but wanted a new modern army. But it was not only in the army he co-created that Krkovič was repeatedly pushed in the corners. He was also persecuted by the state, which decisively helped defend him from attacks by the aggressor army. Innocent, as it later turned out.
The Patria Case
Krkovič was one of the unjustly convicted in the unconstitutional Patria trial. This is the case in which Janez Janša allegedly received a promise of a reward in an unknown amount from an unknown person at an unknown place at an unknown time. The three convicted of a non-existent crime were serving prison sentences of varying lengths for this conviction. According to reports from the prison at the time, Krkovič suffered greatly mentally due to the unjust conviction. Not only he, but he was the one who obviously endured this injustice the worst. Only at the time of serving the sentences of all three unconstitutionally convicted; Janez Janša, Ivan Črnkovič and Tone Krkovič, the Constitutional Court declared the judgment unconstitutional.
Let us also remember the false accusation that he committed a war crime because, during the war, he ordered the shooting down of a military helicopter over Ljubljana during the military ban on all overflights. In this trial, the independence chief of the Slovene Army General Staff, Brigadier General Tone Krkovič, was tried in independent Slovenia according to Yugoslav law. This is according to the laws that were considered the Yugoslav People’s Army in the time of Yugoslavia, which we militarily defeated and drove out of the country during the war of independence in Slovenia. At the time, it sounded to me as if the military adversary and Yugoslavia that had long since disintegrated, were putting him on trial.
I remember that time and it did not occur to me how that was possible. After the acquittal of all Yugoslav officers who fired on Slovenia, demolished civilian buildings and church bells with military force, our chief officer was tried. Of course, he was also acquitted in this case. But an indictment was filled, and a trial was held. Such an unbearable mental burden cannot leave you indifferent, even if you observe from the side.
All the best “Krko”
Krkovič lives under all these pressures that life and injustice have brought him. I do not know, but I imagine it is not easy. If it is true that he wanted to return to “his” army and did not get this opportunity, it is very wrong. Even if he did not do anything, I know, that should be allowed. After all this, I can easily forgive Brigadier/General Krkovič even that small slip when he stepped in to defend Golob for a moment. We do not know exactly what led him to do this, but most likely an honourable attitude, which not everyone can understand and not everyone can do. I am convinced of only one thing in this story; Robert Golob would certainly not risk the arrows of the public and stand by Krkovič in the same way.
Krkovič did not act against the government and the SDS. At least not consciously. I am sure of that.
All the best, “Krko”!
Davorin Kopše is a veteran of the war for Slovenia, a candidate for the European Parliament and an active citizen.