By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv
Our editorial office has received a letter from chess players who, upon learning the news that Milan Brglez had resigned as President of the Slovenian Chess Federation in order to run for the position of President of the Republic of Slovenia, have made an analysis of his presidency of the Chess Federation. “If Slovenians elect Dr Milan Brglez as President and if he were to preside over our country as ‘successfully’ as he has led the chess players’ Federation, we can rightly be very worried about the future of Slovenia,” they wrote in a worrying analysis.
The analysis was based on the results of the current position of Slovenian chess players in the world, especially in light of the Federation President’s promises, which he made in an interview just one day after his election to the post in question. Their revelations will shock you because they are proof that none of what Milan Brglez promised them has actually been done. What is more, many of the similar promises he made as President of the Chess Federation, he is making as a candidate for the position of President of Slovenia!
They accuse him of excluding those who disagreed with him, centralisation, and supporting the elite In an interview after his election, when asked how he sees his role in the Chess Federation as a high-profile politician, Brglez said that he had learned some things as Speaker of the National Assembly. He said that he is aware of what things are similar in politics and in chess, where there can be a conflict of interest and which lines you should not cross. He stressed that chess, in general, is seen as a public good from which no one should be excluded. Regarding this promise, the chess players said in their letter: “Things turned out to be totally different from what he promised. Under Dr Brglez, there was total exclusion – all politically right-wing chess players were instantly excluded.” They also said that they witnessed a complete centralisation, an accumulation of functions from members from Ljubljana and people connected to the former President Milan Knežević and to the Ljubljana Chess Club, who also brought Brglez to the post of President.
Brglez caused the biggest rift in the history of the Slovenian Chess Federation In the interview, Brglez said that he was aware that a third of the Chess Federation’s membership voted against his election, but he also said that he considered himself a fairly successful mediator and that this would be his first task. “To reconcile all the dissenting parties, to invite all those who are doing good work on the Slovenian chess scene to participate. We will not look to the past, so I want all battle axes to be buried as soon as possible and that from now on, we walk together, shoulder to shoulder.” Do you feel like you’ve heard this statement before? Of course you have, in every pre-election debate and every performance, Brglez tries to present himself as the person who will unite the whole of Slovenia. But let’s see what else the chess players had to say about that:
“Dr Brglez has not carried out a single mediation action during his mandate, and what is more, he has caused the biggest rifts in the history of the Slovenian Chess Federation. He has not invited anyone outside his narrow team to participate, especially not those who stood against him in the elections or who have proved themselves by their work in the past. The battle axes have not been buried, in fact, the exact opposite happened.”
It is also worth noting what Brglez’s former close associate, Miro Cerar, once said about his candidacy for the position of President of the Republic: “Personally, I do not want someone with the character of Mr Brglez as President of the Republic.” He described him as a hypocrite and an extremist, a calculating man who has let both his parties down. The former Prime Minister added that he was also the main cause of the split in the Party of Miro Cerar and that he did what he did out of personal ambition. “And this is because of purely personal ambitions and, of course, because of some exaggerated, extremely ideological views. Such views are increasingly present in Slovenia, extreme on one side and the other, and they cause social division and make cooperation impossible. Because of this experience, I personally simply do not think he is a suitable candidate for me,” said Cerar.
Is this what we want to happen to Slovenia? In the aforementioned interview after his election, Brglez also added that there is probably a region in Slovenia that feels a bit neglected, ignored, and the same goes for individuals, organisations, and clubs. “Don’t worry, cooperation with all those who are doing good work will be our first priority, of course, with the welfare of Slovenian
chess and the Slovenian Chess Federation as the pillar of this branch in mind. Once we calm the passions and get to work, we will quickly improve things, eliminate mistakes, and build on the projects where we are already successful today,” Brglez promised. Meanwhile, chess players said that the regions (except the central one) continued to be ignored, “some of the stronger centres (Maribor, Ptuj, Gorenjska) were marginalised, some were even pushed off the Slovenian chess map (Novo mesto, Tolmin). The Maribor chess region, a quality carrier in the decades of independent Slovenia, was not even contacted by the Slovenian Chess Federation nor assisted in a single step.”
Where is the money from Slovenian Railways that Brglez tied to his candidacy? The very thing that happened in Thursday’s pre-election debate, where Brglez stuttered in his response to the questions about the sponsorship contract, is also what the chess players accused him of! Namely, they are wondering where the money they made from the organisation went, where are the 200 thousand euros contributed to the Slovenian Chess Federation by the Slovenian Railways company? “Dr Milan Brglez tied his candidacy to this sponsorship by a state company, which is probably illegal,” the chess players wrote in their letter, and even went on to say, “where are the budget funds allocated to the Slovenian Railways by the state, where are all the levies contributed by the chess clubs for the operation of the Slovenian Chess Federation? Only a serious, thorough financial analysis of the operations could reveal whether the champions were really successful and what good they brought to Slovenian chess.”
Brglez let the older chess players down – they even had to pay their own entry fees When taking over the Slovenian Chess Federation, Brglez also promised to think of everyone: “To keep in touch with the active, middle generation, and especially the older members. Chess works as proven prevention against typical diseases of the elderly, such as dementia and the like. I see a huge opportunity here to help properly, to present chess to the public as a discipline that is also healthy and not just fun.” And how did the chess players describe the realisation of this promise? “We can safely say that we are also among the worst, if not the worst, in Europe in this area.” Slovenia’s best veterans, participants in European and World championships, are left to fend for themselves, the Slovenian Chess Federation is not willing to co-finance their chess, not even their entry fees, whether for the team or individual competitions, they were critical.
During Brglez’s term in office, professional chess fell to the lowest point in the history of independent Slovenia Brglez promised top chess to the best players and coaches. “Only total commitment and professionalism lead to top results. I will help find optimal system solutions, I believe that my team and I will find sponsors who will support our efforts.” The chess players can only laugh at this statement. They say that it was during Brglez’s mandate that top-level chess fell to its lowest point in the history of independent Slovenia, and they have had poor results (only 36th place in the world rankings, 50th place among men and 35th place among women at the latest Olympiad – these are desperate results that are more telling than anything else).
The chess players accuse Brglez of being irresponsible The chess players also accused Brglez of creating the worst conditions for the national chess team in the history of independent Slovenia – for this year’s Olympiad, for the first time, the national team did not even get a daily allowance, and what’s more, they had to pay for their own testing or vaccination costs before the trip. Among other things, he was also blamed for the collapse in quality, which was a result of terrible (un)professional work, and despite the poor results, not a single resignation was offered, not a single call for accountability… “No chess organisation in the world, let alone a European one, has ever seen such comedy.”
During Brglez’s presidency, the Chess Federation faced a number of inspections for the first time ever In response to the last question of the interview (what he would most like to see in his mandate), which was analysed by the chess players, Brglez said that he wished there would be no quarrels and that he believed that his experience would help to make the next years in Slovenian chess more peaceful. But this was just another big lie by Mr Brglez. Namely, during his presidency, for the first time in its history, the Slovenian Chess Federation had been subject to numerous inspections, had been criminally charged several times on suspicion of improper spending of budget money, and had appeared in the media mainly in a negative light.
Should we be worried? “The divide in Slovenian chess is deeper than ever. It is hard to say that Dr Milan Brglez has done a good job – the assessment of very poor to catastrophic results would be much more appropriate.” The chess players are just glad that Brglez did not stay at the helm of the Slovenian chess organisation for too long. “He did not even last the term. His personal ambition drove him to run for the position of President of the Republic of Slovenia, and this office is incompatible with the presidency of the Slovenian Chess Federation. Therefore, be careful!” If Slovenians will elect Dr Milan Brglez as President of the Republic, and if he will then preside over our country as successfully as he led the chess players, then we can rightly be very worried about the future of Slovenia.