Is political party Nova Slovenija under Matej Tonin turning into a party of left-wing capital networks that lobby against foreign investments?

Matej Tonin. (Photo: STA)

The unusual moves of Nova Slovenija do not seem to end. In the past, we have been accustomed to the fact that the General Secretary of Nova Slovenia Robert Ilc is emerging as the main connecting link between the party and some key representatives of Slovenian business networks. In recent days, the president of the party, Matej Tonin, has also appeared in the role of representing interests of business networks. The exposure of Matej Tonin in the latest attack on Serbian businessman Miodrag Kostić, who has already invested over 200m euros in Slovenia, is not surprising to some experts. Perhaps surprising is the fact that in his role as a lobbyist, he appears not only as party chairman, but as a senior political chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for the Supervision of Intelligence and Security Services.

After the establishment, Nova Slovenija was a distinctly anti-communist and therefore a staunch opponent of the Slovene Communist elite, gathered around the former President of Slovenia and the last President of the Slovenian Union of Communists, Milan Kučan. It has historically emerged as a party of Slovenian Christian Democrats, that is, those groups of Slovenian citizens who were among the most persecuted because of their strong Christian faith and values ​​under the former regime. However, since the change of party leadership and the resignation of the first president of N.Si, Andrei Bajuk from politics, it’s clear that tectonic changes are happening in N.Si. The new generation of politicians who rose to the top of the party gradually transformed Nova Slovenija despite its modest election result, into an active supporter of certain capitalistic circles. Those circles, known as the “deep state”, which, through their financial and personal connections, control the flow of money from state-owned enterprises and from state-funded investments. It is precisely against such networks that Nova Slovenija, as a Christian party of the “Slovenian spring”, is expected to actively fight. What is really happening in Nova Slovenija and whose party has it become?

Moving to the middle or to donations?

The transition to positions of the Slovenian capitalistic elite, which during the transition period was enriched by the exhaustion of state-owned companies and transactions with the state, did not happen overnight. The party has strongly fought to do everything in its power to lose the image of the right-wing party in the eyes of the public, as if it were something inappropriate, illegitimate, and as if being left-wing were a great value. Under Ljudmila Novak, the party already began to flounder against the left, which was also evident in the growing media sympathy and praise of both Novak and Tonin for their “constructive” opposition stance (or in other words: acting in accordance with the interests of the ruling elite). It was Matej Tonin who had granted the former president and the first Communist the right to a presidential pension allowance, which is now estimated at over 3,000 euros a month. The deputies of Nova Slovenija also supported the government’s proposal for a law on access to archives, which made it impossible to investigate the past history and the functioning of UDBA. Such ideologically controversial decisions have been named by the N.Si as a “move to the middle”. At the same time as “moving to the middle”, controversial donations were started flowing in for various organisations registered by prominent members of the N.Si; grants for their operations were coming from state-owned companies. Particularly striking is the fact that the requests for donations were sent to state-owned companies directly by prominent members of Nova Slovenija.

Lobbying and exploiting N.Si for the interests of the deep state

In Slovenia, there is a clash happening for key positions that will decide on the strength of economic networks or will strengthen them even more. These include the announced sale of one of the last largest packages of debt from Slovenian companies, including the sale of a Slovenian subsidiary of the Austrian Heta, which is a bad bank of the former Hypo Bank. There are 551 million euros of debt of which 386 million euros are bad claims and 166 million euros are recoverable claims. They also own 110 million euros worth of real estate. Several interested parties are seeking to buy Heta, including the Czech APS Fund and Serbian businessman Miodrag Kostić. According to unofficial information, Kostić is expected to submit the highest bid: around 300 million euros. In Slovenia. through MK Group, Kostić already owns Gorenjska banka, Kempinski Palace Hotel in Portorož and Portorož Airport. Kostić is also mentioned as the most serious buyer of Heta, for which he must obtain the consent of the regulatory bodies in Slovenia.

APS purchased a bunch of bad claims from NLB customers in the Balkans several years ago, and together with Apollo (the NKBM owner) also purchased a larger portion of Heta in Serbia. It is important to note, that the notorious Borut Jamnik, one of the most influential people in Slovenia, who also built his network on Slovenian state assets and supervisory boards, sits on the NKBM’s Supervisory Board. Jamnik’s “octopus,” as some call his business network, is rooted in politics and state-owned enterprises, and controls money flows from state-owned companies through media agencies and even political parties.

Jamnik was also very active at the time of the sale of Gorenjska Banka, or more precisely during an attempt to prevent the bank from being sold to the Serbian AIK Bank owned by Kostić’s MK Group. When it became clear to the “network” that they could not stop Kostić and that the sales process at the end, he put Matej Tonin into the game. As part of the work of the Parliamentary Commission for the Supervision of Intelligence and Security Services, he noted that there was a “security risk” for Kostić’s arrival in Slovenia, and even pointed out that the supervision of the competent authorities was ineffective. The interference of the high politician into the intended foreign investments is anything but normal, even if we know that the capital that controls NKMB, for which the already mentioned Borut Jamnik works in Slovenia, obviously fell out of the game when buying Heta. In the case of Heta, we can watch how a capital network uses a parliamentary party and its president to deal with a rival. Why Matej Tonin used his political function to exert direct media and political pressure on the regulatory bodies during one of the biggest packages of claims against Slovenian companies and what kind of payment is expected from this will soon be revealed.