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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

SDS party filed an interpellation against Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon for abusing diplomatic and consular representations of the Republic of Slovenia

By: C.R. / SDS

The SDS press conference was held on the interpellation about the work and responsibilities of Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanja Fajon, which the SDS parliamentary group submitted to the parliamentary procedure last week. The SDS party, accuses the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tanja Fajon, of the abuse of diplomatic and consular representations of the Republic of Slovenia due to the selective collection of signatures of support from voters to support the candidate for the presidential elections of the Republic of Slovenia, which creates inequality before the law, and violations of Article 17 of the Act on Foreign Affairs, because the President of the Republic of Slovenia was not previously informed of the intention to recall the ambassador, which results in lost trust in the institutions of the rule of law and lost trust in the function of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

At today’s press conference, SDS MP Franc Breznik spoke about the interpellation about the work and responsibilities of Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanja Fajon, which the SDS parliamentary group submitted to the parliamentary procedure.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanja Fajon took the oath before the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia on June 1st, 2022: “I swear to respect the constitutional order, to act according to my conscience, and to work with all my strength for the welfare of Slovenia.” The aforementioned oath is taken by each minister in accordance with Article 113 in conjunction with Article 104 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia after election or before assuming office.

On August 30th, 2022, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Directorate of Administrative Internal Affairs, sent a letter with the subject title “Forwarding the address for receiving support forms – Dr Nataša Pirc Musar to the National Assembly, all administrative units in the Republic of Slovenia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Consular Sector, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education, Science, and Sports, with an attached Request of the Electoral Headquarters of Dr Nataša Pirc Musar, which put one candidate, who collected signed forms of support for her candidacy, in a privileged position.

According to MP Breznik, this represents a violation of the principle of equality before the law and abuse of election rules. It is essential that, in respecting the principle of equality before the law and in order to protect equality in the field of voting right, the ministry should have forwarded the addressees of all candidates to the addressees of the letter – at the same time as the support of the signatures. Or such an act should be abstained.

The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) believes that in any case it is not permissible by the Ministry to submit the application of the election headquarters for only one candidate to the official institutions, since it is an obvious favourite of this candidate. To give excuses regarding the request of the election headquarters of the candidate is completely irrelevant.

Sending an address for sending forms of only one candidate individually – actually puts the other candidates in an unequal position, which is legally controversial, and because it is a constitutional (electoral) exercise, also apparently constitutionally controversial.

In an open letter to the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Borut Pahor a long-time foreign minister and ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the United States of America, Dr Dimitrij Rupel warned that “The Minister of the Interior and then the Minister of Foreign Affairs acted in violation of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Slovenia. In the fourth paragraph of Article 153 of the Slovenian Constitution, we read: Individual acts and actions of state bodies must be based on the law or legal regulation.”

The competent ministry is obliged to take care of the constitutionality and legality of electoral procedures and to respect the principle of equality in these procedures and to protect equality in the field of electoral rights. SDS therefore believes that this was an obvious and undeniable abuse of public institutions for political purposes.

Following the public announcement of the above letter from the ministry responsible for the internal affairs, in early September, there were numerous allegations that the Ministry of Election Headquarters of Dr Nataša Pirc Musar is doing an inadmissible campaign and puts her in a privileged position.

The announced candidate Dr Nina Krajnik, who is also collecting signatures of support for her candidacy came forward with criticism. Together with Dr Peter Jambrek, she emphasised at the press conference that it is an unconstitutional and illegal use of state institutions only for the benefit of Dr Nataša Pirc Musar. To this point of view of Dr Peter Jambrek was also confirmed by Dr Rajko Pirnat (24ur show, September 2nd, 2022). Among other things, the Resni.ca party voiced their criticism of discrimination and demanded that administrative units and some institutions publish the address for submission of support for their candidate as well.

Ivo Vajgl, who is also collecting voter signatures for the presidential candidacy, also responded. He mentioned that this is an unusual behaviour in an election campaign, in which all candidates should have equal opportunities and should be equally informed. According to his assessment, the purpose of the initiative of the electoral staff of Dr Nataša Pirc Musar, in order to have an advantage over other candidates in the process, is a morally objectionable act. As a former long-time diplomat and foreign minister, he does not recall a request to publish the candidate’s address ever reaching a diplomatic mission.

The election headquarters of Dr Vladimir Prebilić told the N1 that the sent letter to the Ministry of the Interior negatively surprised them. They would expect from the ministry, that in the light of transparency and equal hearings, to order all administrative units and competent ministries, to treat all candidates the same and therefore publish addresses of all of them. “Such an unequal treatment of one candidate seems unusual to us,” they added at the headquarter.

In view of the above and responses of all candidates, it would be justified that all recipients of the above letter from the Ministry of the Interior of August 30th, 2022, would call for equal hearing and requested an explanation or information about all candidates who have declared for the collection of signatures to support the presidential candidacy from the ministry. This is the only way to enable transparency and the same treatment of all who have decided to run with the support of voters and to collect signatures of support.

From the content of the explanation on the website of the Ministry of the Interior on September 1st, 2022, and the information published on a tweet on September 1st, 2022, it is clear that the request of the candidate Dr Nataša Pirc Musar where to send the signed forms was not be the only one, and that the ministry supposedly sent the letters for two candidates. Here, we emphasise that this explanation was given after numerous warnings about the illegal and constitutionally questionable abuse of public or state institutions only in favour of one candidate who was collecting signatures of support for the presidential candidacy and thus about discrimination. What is interesting about this is that there is no publicly published information, similar to the case of Dr Nataša Pirc Musar, which candidate it is about.

Additionally, successively, after warning of the above-mentioned controversial act, the ministry is said to have sent more instructions for collecting signatures for individual candidates, but there is no publicly published information about this, which is interesting and raises many questions about the transparency of the procedures:

– on September 5th, 2022, after the letter from the Ministry of the Interior was forwarded on August 30th, 2022, and warned of the violation of impartiality towards the other candidates, instructions for collecting signatures for three candidates were to arrive in a short period of time.

– on September 7th, 2022, an instruction to collect signatures for one candidate were to arrive.

– on September 13th, 2022, an instruction to collect signatures for another candidate were to arrive.

In the SDS, they believe that this further reinforces the violation of impartiality towards the other candidates, who did not know about this possibility. Which only strengthens the discriminatory behaviour.

SDS learned from the media, after warning about controversial behaviour, that the call was also followed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which, with an electronic message – a dispatch, which did not have the marking that it was any diplomatic communication, did not specify who could be with aware of it – asked all diplomatic consular missions to publish in a conspicuous place the address to which voters can send signatures for the candidacy of Dr Nataša Pirc Musar for the presidential candidacy.

The SDS believes that this was an abuse of the network of diplomatic and consular representations of the Republic of Slovenia due to the selective collection of signatures of support from voters in support of Dr Nataša Pirc Musar as a candidate for the presidential elections of the Republic of Slovenia, which creates inequality before the law.

Regarding the subject content of the electronic message – a dispatch from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is linked to a letter from the Ministry of the Interior, dated August 30th, 2022, and the subject title “Forwarding the address for receiving support forms – Dr Nataša Pirc Musar” to the National Assembly, which was addressed to all administrative units in the Republic of Slovenia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Consular Sector, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education, Science, and Sport, with the attached Request of the Electoral Staff of Dr Nataša Pirc Musar – it is about content that is public and has neither the nature of a dispatch nor of secrecy.

Even the very nature of its content is not such as to be escalated. Not even to justify its escalation. The SDS believes that the order by the consular sector of the MFA was an abuse of the dispatch system in favour of one candidate. The content of the letter, which placed one candidate, who was collecting signed forms of support for her candidacy, in a privileged position, has already been published several times. As such, the very nature of the message is not such as to warrant a degree of classification. Moreover, such a message represents information of a public nature.

Therefore, the letter from the Ministry of the Interior dated August 30th, 2022, and, as a result, the transmission of the email in question also constitutes a violation of the fourth paragraph of Article 153 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, which regulates the harmonisation of legal acts: “Individual acts and actions of state authorities, local authority communities, and holders of public authority must be based on the law or legal regulation.”

The SDS believes that when the Government of the Republic of Slovenia on Thursday, September 15th, 2022, adopted a proposal to recall the ambassador to the United States of America, Mr. Tone Kajzer for violation of the Act on Foreign Affairs, allegedly due to abuse of the confidential dispatch system of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, impermissibly abused state or public institutions for political purposes and violated the Act on Foreign Affairs, because the President of the Republic of Slovenia with the intention of the government to adopt a decision on his recall, was not previously informed, as stipulated in Article 17 of the Foreign Affairs Act. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Tanja Fajon, directly violated the Foreign Affairs Act by not consulting the President of the Republic of Slovenia about the recall.

We also point out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should clearly and unequivocally demonstrate the misuse of the dispatch system.

On September 20th, 2022, the President of the Republic of Slovenia signed an order recalling the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the United States of America, Mr. Tone Kajzer and followed the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. At the same time, he expressed his dissatisfaction because he was not previously informed of the intention of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to adopt a decision on his recall, as stipulated in Article 17 of the Foreign Affairs Act. He advocated that the process of recalling an ambassador should be the same as the process of appointment.

The appointment of the ambassador stipulates that the Minister of Foreign Affairs shall inform the President of the Republic of the proposal he intends to send to the government, and the President of the Republic signs a statement that the minister had consulted him. He does not know such a document in the event of recalling the practice of recall.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, believes that the decision to recall the ambassador, Mr. Tone Kajzer was a disproportionate measure, as the violation of the regulation did not have a direct adverse effect on Slovenian foreign policy interests.

The SDS believes that this was an obvious and indisputable abuse of public institutions for political purposes.

At the same time, the SDS draws attention to the timing and reporting of the investigation into the suspected misuse of documents of the ministry responsible for foreign affairs, which are used in communication between employees through the network of diplomatic and consular representations, pressures on the ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the United States of America, and the proposal to recall him.

Regarding the above, the reporting of the Siol should be emphasised. The reporting shows that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on September 12th, 2022, when they checked unofficial information that the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Robert Golob offered Marta Kos the position of ambassador to the United States if she withdraw from the match for President of the Republic of Slovenia, received information that “It is certainly not true that any pressure is performed to the ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the United Stated to resign before the end of his term. We do not comment on other allegations of media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

They replied that they were not putting pressure on the ambassador at the same time that Ambassador Tone Kajzer was called to appear before the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Prime Minister was also aware of the case, reported Delo newspaper. He is said to have instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to initiate the process of recalling the ambassador in case of proven abuse – which means that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was informed about what was happening.

The information that led to the initiation of proceedings against the ambassador should be public. All candidates should be informed about this right, otherwise the presidential elections ahead will not be transparent and fair.

Considering the above, it is impossible to get rid of the impression that the only reason for the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Minister Tanja Fajon, to recall Ambassador Tone Kajzer is politically motivated. The above-mentioned time sequence and also the speed of the procedure, as carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without a clear and unequivocal determination of the actual situation, lead to this. At the same time, the SDS reiterates that it is only a copy of the letter from the Ministry of the Interior, and, in terms of its content, it also represents information of a public nature.

The SDS adds that Tone Kajzer did not endanger the security of the Slovenian dispatch or diplomatic communication for a moment, since there was absolutely nothing new in the dispatch compared to the already mentioned letter of the Ministry of the Interior of August 30th, 2022, which is also public information character.

The SDS points out that the aforementioned message was not actually a diplomatic message at all, but merely a verbatim summary of a letter from the Ministry of the Interior, which, as already mentioned above, was forwarded, and circulated among ministries, all Slovenian administrative units, and other public institutions.

In the aforementioned case, it was primarily a warning, extremely problematic, reprehensible, unconcealed, and widely known fact regarding the use of state institutions for political propaganda by a single presidential candidate, wherein this candidate, a few years ago, actually advocated the unrestricted and unhindered use of the dispatch system of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for ruining the reputation and causing irreparable damage to the Republic of Slovenia. Ambassador Tone Kajzer actually drew attention to the aforementioned illegal conduct.

Ambassador Tone Kajzer, who was recalled, is a career diplomat and has many years of diplomatic experience, which is evident from public information and publications, with the aim of strengthening economic, technological, and investment cooperation.

The actions of Minister Tanja Fajon described above mean that she is not suitable for the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, therefore we in the SDS propose to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia that, after the discussion, pass a vote of no confidence in Tanja Fajon and thereby dismiss her from the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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