By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv
“This motion of no confidence is partly linked to the interpellation of the Minister of the Interior, the discussion about which will be held on Monday – because the content of both motions of no confidence is exactly the same in the point of accusation of abuse of the electoral legislation,” explained Eva Irgl, an MP of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), who added that both ministers had violated the electoral legislation and Fajon had also violated the Foreign Affairs Act. By not treating all candidates for the presidential elections in the same way or based on the same criteria, they discriminated against other candidates, while treating a certain candidate with privilege. “They also acted unfairly and unjustly,” the MP stressed, explaining that, because of the oath they had taken in the National Assembly, they should have respected the constitutional order and the legislature, and should have acted in a way that would bring common good and not exclusively benefit one candidate.
On Thursday, a vote on the motion of no confidence against the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tanja Fajon, took place in the National Assembly. The reason for the motion against the Minister is the affair with the now-former Ambassador to the USA, Tone Kajzer – the SDS party accused Fajon of violating the Foreign Affairs Act by failing
to consult the President of the Republic, Borut Pahor, on the recall of the Ambassador. The recall procedure was, therefore, unlawful: the government acted unlawfully, and the President of the Republic signed an order on the basis of an unlawful procedure. The party also accused Foreign Minister of abusing the diplomatic-consular network in favour of one candidate in the presidential elections, SDS MP Franc Breznik said when presenting the reasons for the filing of the no-confidence motion. He also explained the reasons in more detail on Thursday. Namely, the disputed diplomatic dispatch concerned a request from the Ministry of the Interior that diplomatic missions and consular posts also prominently display the address to which the voters could send the signatures that Nataša Pirc Musar was collecting in order to be able to submit her candidacy in the presidential elections.
In her defence at the start of the hearing of the no-confidence motion against her, Fajon explained her actions in recalling the former Ambassador to the USA, Tone Kajzer, and rejected the accusations. She said that she believes the motion of no confidence was a diversion of attention from the improper conduct of the former Ambassador and former Prime Minister. According to Fajon, the Ambassador violated the law, did not respect the rules of the dispatch system, and put his party before his country. She also said that the no-confidence motion is an attack by the opposition, executed to create a populist political campaign. Fajon mainly used her time to praise her work and mission – saying that this government has restored moderation in Slovenia’s foreign policy and that Slovenia is pursuing a foreign policy that is in line with the European Union. She reiterated that they have succeeded in putting Slovenia back among the core countries of the EU.
Before the start of the extraordinary session, Fajon said that when she took office, she had sworn to uphold the Constitution, and that the motion of no confidence had clearly befallen her because she was trying to restore the reputation of diplomacy and Slovenia. In her own defence, she said how the previous government had brought Slovenia into disrepute abroad – forgetting, of course, that it was she herself who had spread untruths and disgraced her country on the European political floor. The motion of no confidence had no real chance of success, though, as it required 46 votes, which the petitioner did not have, even with the announced support of the New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi). Before the session, Breznik announced that MPs would be discussing what freedom of the mind is, what real freedom is, and also what is a constitutional democracy, who shapes foreign policy, as well as the law on classified information and access to it.
“The coalition is vehemently saying that they are the winners, that the SDS party will not achieve anything with the motion of no confidence, because the coalition has a majority in the National Assembly,” Breznik also pointed out, adding that they have had this majority several times before, under different names – but each time they have failed because they have only seen Slovenia through their own wallets. Breznik also emphasised that democracy in Slovenia has been hijacked by the transitional left. In his words, the essence of this interpellation is also that behind it are those who have defended Slovenia with their lives, who are responsible to the electorate and the democracy. This is also what former Ambassador Kajzer did, in the opinion of the SDS party. “This is a form of freedom that is being sold under the banner of non-freedom in Slovenia,” the MP warned.
The Minister should resign due to her misusing the public administration system for political purposes MP Eva Irgl said that in the last two years, when Dr Anže Logar was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the country’s position externally had been greatly strengthened – with many excellent foreign policy actions and international events. Unfortunately, the recall of Ambassador Kajzer is one of those actions that reflect badly on the country’s reputation in the diplomatic and international environment – especially if we know that what the Ambassador forwarded was not a dispatch at all, but a simple instruction in an e-mail that had already been sent to various other addresses in various ministries. However, the Minister has misused the dispatch system for political purposes. The Minister also acted, in the opinion of the legal profession (Jambrek, Rupel, Pirnat …), in a way that was incompatible with the law and discriminatory, in that she did not inform the other candidates of this possibility of collecting signatures, which was only offered to Pirc Musar. The intention to canvass exclusively for one candidate is morally questionable – a point also made by former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivo Vajgl, who also said that he did not recall that the request for the publication of the address had ever been sent to a diplomatic mission before. “The other candidates were therefore not informed of it in this case, which is why it is clear that the Foreign Minister abused her position and also abused the ministry and the diplomatic missions and the diplomatic consular representations and the dispatch system to promote one candidate exclusively,” the MP reiterated.
President of the Slovenian Democratic Party, Janez Janša, said that the situation would be much better understood if it were the other way around – i.e. if we had a different government this year and it had sent instructions to diplomatic missions and institutions to allow the collection of signatures only for the presidential candidate Anže Logar. Can you imagine the reaction to something like that? The square in front of the National Assembly would be full of protesters, the headlines in the media would be ablaze with condemnation. “Does anyone dare to say that this would not be the case?” asked the former Prime Minister, who believes that this is an internal political issue, not an external one. Collecting signatures for a candidacy is part of the constitutionally guaranteed passive right of every citizen. The exercise of this passive right does not depend on whether a particular electoral staff remembers that a state institution could help with the collection. It must be automatically guaranteed to everyone under the same conditions. If the exercise of the passive right has ever been treated differently in this way before, it was also wrong then.
“Believe me, at some point, there will be a forensic investigation into the motive behind this abuse of the passive right to vote,” Janša announced, explaining that the whole mechanism was used because Pirc Musar was doing very badly, and the collecting of signatures was going very slow for her. He recalled that the instructions were not only sent to diplomatic missions, but also to homes for the elderly, and other administrations of these institutions objected to it. “As is usually the case when it comes to cases of clear abuse of a constitutional or legal right, in our case, it is the person who pointed it out who is ultimately being held responsible,” Janša pointed out. The former Prime Minister stressed that Kajzer had not violated any regulations and had not informed any unauthorised person about this. If the members of the National Assembly and the members of the Foreign Policy Committee are considered unauthorised persons – which is what all of the officials who had this information really are – then we are in the time of the secret gazettes from thirty years ago.
In his speech, Janša also referred to the Foreign Minister’s words on the war in Ukraine and the claims that the government of Janez Janša made a mistake when it sent Boštjan Lesjak there as a Special Envoy. “It was a brave act that Lesjak went to Kyiv when everyone else fled. He was like a swallow that announced that Kyiv will never fall into the hands of the aggressor, and his actions will live in the memory of Slovenians for decades to come. Please apologise to him,” Janša called on Fajon, before asking her when she would go to Moscow and persuade Putin to make peace.
“Madam Foreign Minister, in all of this, the Foreign Affairs Act must also be respected, which clearly states that an ambassador can only be recalled after consultation with the President of the Republic, and here we have witnessed this confusing situation,” said NSi MP Jernej Vrtovec. According to the NSi party, the communication was very poor, and there should have been extraordinary surveillance and only then a consultation with the President of the Republic and later the possible recall of the Ambassador. Vrtovec pointed to Slovenia’s inactive foreign policy, which has only deepened since Tanja Fajon took office as the Foreign Minister, as a key reason for the NSi party’s support for the motion of no confidence. He also cited the attitude towards countries in our neighbourhood as an important reason for her dismissal. He then highlighted the inactive role of Slovenian diplomacy in the case of war against Ukraine since, in the NSi party’s view, Slovenia has a strong and positive experience of its own war of independence. “Slovenia should be more proactive in this area, including by taking action and adopting sanctions against those who initiated the aggression against Ukraine,” he added.
MP Jožef Horvat also believes that the removal of Kajzer was politically motivated. He asked why the communication from the Ministry of the interior on the collection of signatures for the presidential candidate was not sent by regular e-mail but instead by a dispatch and what the legal basis for this was. He also asked why Ambassador Kajzer was not just disciplined instead of being recalled. “So you demanded his head without a trial,” he said, stressing that Kajzer’s fundamental right to justice had been violated.
Article 45a of the Foreign Affairs Act refers to the obligation to protect documents. The first paragraph states that documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such as diplomatic notes, records of meetings or talks with foreign diplomatic representatives and representatives of international organisations, and negotiating positions, are intended for the implementation of the foreign policy of the Republic of Slovenia. SDS MP Breznik then quoted paragraph 3, which states that “The documents referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article may be forwarded to the competent authorities or their officials which implement or participate in the implementation of the foreign policy of the Republic of Slovenia. The documents referred to in paragraph 1 may also be forwarded to foreign competent authorities or their officials when this is related to the implementation of the foreign policy of the Republic of Slovenia.” Is a member of the National Assembly perhaps not an official, meaning, one of the implementers of foreign policy? According to Breznik, it is another big failure that the Minister does not know the law on foreign affairs.
According to the Slovenian Press Agency, Minister Fajon also spoke again in the debate and once again rejected all the accusations. The case of Tone Kajzer is about the unauthorised transmission of information from the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs’ dispatch system, which is protected under the Foreign Affairs Act, and any misuse is a violation, so the recall was justified, she insisted. “Otherwise, such mistakes or irregularities could gain legitimacy and multiply,” she warned. Regarding the prior consultations on the recall with President Pahor, she reiterated that she had acted in accordance with the rules and the Foreign Affairs Act. Interestingly, President Borut Pahor also took to Twitter during the motion of no confidence. He has previously expressed the view that the dismissal of Kajzer was a disproportionate measure and has also expressed his dissatisfaction over the fact that he was not consulted on this decision beforehand – even though the procedure provides for this. His dissatisfaction did not stop him from signing the recall order for the Ambassador, though, which he did after a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Robert Golob. The President’s Office tweeted today that in order to avoid any misunderstandings and to make the procedure for consulting the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of the Republic of Slovenia unambiguous, Pahor and Prime Minister Robert Golob “decided that the government’s decision to recall Ambassador Kajzer would be put to a new vote at the government meeting on the 28th of September, with the President signing the recall order a day later.”
“When asked to choose between legality and illegality, you chose illegality with this illegal dismissal of Mr Kajzer. When asked whether you would choose between professionalism and experience and political revenge, you chose political revenge. When asked whether you would choose between Slovenia’s reputation or disrepute in the world, you chose disrepute, and I will therefore support the motion of no confidence against you with great pleasure and responsibility,” SDS MP Andrej Hoivik said to Fajon.
MP Jelka Godec wanted to know, among other things, how the “dispatch” even ended up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Namely, Aleš Musar, on behalf of Pirc Musar’s electoral staff, asked that the address for collecting signatures be communicated to hospitals, homes for the elderly, institutions for the disabled, and similar institutions, as well as to institutions where people are serving prison sentences. “The electoral staff did not even request that this be sent to embassies,” Godec noted, adding that nowhere is there any mention of the law on the basis of which the address should also be sent there. Supposedly, this was just “established practice,” which apparently no one knew about except Pirc Musar’s staff. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport even replied that they had not put up the address for collecting signatures in their institutions because this was not common practice and had never been done before.
The MP also asked whether Kajzer had been given a decision on the disciplinary offence – meaning, whether it was stated anywhere what he had done wrong, under which article of the law, what were his options for an appeal, and so on. Was he even given the option of appealing, or was he simply rapidly dismissed? Godec also wanted to know under which category of Article 45a the communication on the collection of signatures for a candidate fell. Was it a diplomatic note, a record of a meeting or conversation with a foreign diplomatic representative, or was it perhaps a negotiating position? The original sin of Tone Kajzer is merely his association with the SDS party – which, according to the MP, was repeated by everyone at Thursday’s sitting. Godec also pointed out that the government coalition kept repeating how the previous government had damaged the reputation of the Republic of Slovenia with its harmful actions – she called on them to name those harmful
actions, because they have never actually explained what they are supposed to be. “Was it damaging that the Prime Minister was the first to go to Ukraine?” she asked.
Fajon remains Minister of Foreign Affairs, an interpellation against Interior Minister Bobnar to follow on Monday Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon successfully passed a motion of no confidence in the Slovenian National Assembly on Thursday, the Slovenian Press Agency reports. 22 MPs voted in favour of her having to leave her post; 52 voted against it. For the interpellation to succeed, 46 MPs would have had to support it, but Fajon remains in her ministerial post. Fajon said in a press statement after the motion of no confidence that she was satisfied with the result. She was positively surprised by the vote and had expected more votes against her. Some prominent members of the opposition did not attend the vote. On Monday, an interpellation against Minister of the Interior Tatjana Bobnar will also take place. The SDS party accuses her, among other things, of abuse of office, misleading the public, and dereliction of duty.