By: Peter Jančič /spletnicasopis.eu
Robert Golob got five additional ministries this week, making it one of the largest governments in Europe in terms of the number of ministries, which, in terms of the number of departments, resembles the executive councils from the times of socialism. When it comes to ministers, the team is not complete, the Minister of the Interior is missing. After the resignation of Tatjana Bobnar, Golob is still looking for a suitable candidate. However, Golob “strengthened” the team of ministers with at least the head of the SAB, Alenka Bratušek, who failed in the elections, and Simon Maljevec, the founder of the March 8th Institute. On Wednesday, the coalition will meet at the summit, where they will also discuss how to raise the salaries of the multitudes of new ministers and secretaries of state who have just been appointed.
Last week, however, the ministers did not find time to propose a law to the parliament that would immediately increase the salaries of judges and prosecutors by 600 euros per month. We are also at the top of Europe in terms of the number of judges per population. Golob promised them a raise two weeks ago, which the assembled judges rewarded with applause. Golob also announced to the MPs on Tuesday that the government will propose an amendment to the law. Well, it did not. It was somewhat quiet in the media. They were satisfied with the explanation of the head of Ukom, Petra Bezjak Cirman, that the increases were stopped by “nomotechnical corrections” and that the government would decide on this at a correspondence session. It did not until the end of the week. In parliament, the prime minister explained that because of his 600 euros, the head of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court will suddenly have a much higher salary than the president of the republic, the government, or the parliament, by saying that MPs can set low salaries for politicians, but they must give more to judges and prosecutors because they are an independent branch of government. The law regulates salaries for all officials equally and together. And not “independently” for each branch of government separately.
The Prime Minister also announced that the salaries of all officials, i.e., MPs, new ministers, the President of the Republic, auditors, the ombudsman and the like, will be significantly increased, but these larger increases will only take effect in the next mandate. February begins on Wednesday, in which judges and prosecutors should already be paid Golob’s allowance for January. However, the law on this has not even been proposed to the parliament yet. Granting allowances for which there is no basis in law is not something new for Golob. In this way, in recent years in the state-owned company GEN-I, he received a salary and rewards that were far beyond the limits that apply to leaders in state-owned companies. The restrictions were legislated so that the bosses of state-owned companies would not steal too much with the rewards. For the year 2021, with a net salary of more than 200,000 euros and awards, Golob should have received a special additional award of one million euros, but at the end of last year, at least that is what the GEN-I company claims, he was not paid. Because that is what they agreed on. Apparently, the prime minister voluntarily gave up the money. The scandal would be too great. It was not revealed whether the others who led GEN-I with Golob also gave up the sweets of state property.
At the national level, Golob has a problem with judges and prosecutors, which he is not used to, that he cannot hand out bonuses quietly and under the table, without annoying lawyers and the control of at least some media. Or at least the amazement of prominent entrepreneurs. But who do not dare to publicly ask about abuses in state-owned companies with awards. Because they are afraid of the head of the government, who was among those who were getting it.
That Golob does not understand his role as prime minister, who must be an example of transparency, as the heads of government in the past, was further shown when Žan Mahnič (SDS) asked him about millions of transfers from the GEN-I company in the Balkans in the past, as well as to the companies of Ambassador Martin Berishaj. He “answered” as follows: “It is always fascinating to listen to your constructs, which are completely made up and just constructs, and it always makes you wonder if you will ever get over April 24th, because you obviously cannot. All that you are saying was launched by you in the pre-election campaign. Your structures under your direct leadership launched this fictitious affair, it was supposed to be an affair. And it was waiting for all of us, and it was waiting for me, if anyone remembers, in the famous show by Igor Pirkovič, the show Soočenja on RTV Slovenija. We have not adopted it yet, despite the fact that the law has been amended, but it was approved in a referendum with a two-thirds majority. Unfortunately, RTV is still not free. So, no, no media has been taken over yet.”
So Golob answered for what purposes he transferred money from GEN-I to Martin Berishaj. The result of the election is by no means definitive proof that everything is fine with remittances. And even the claim that everything is a pre-election construct of the SDS and that it was “launched” by Janez Janša, did not explain the reasons for the transfers. Why does Golob evade the answer? I could say that they bought electricity produced in Kosovo, invested… Whatever the reason was. Or that the remittance documents are fake. It is not. Why would this be difficult to explain? Is the problem because it was not normal business? Because it was just too much money for consulting?
How come they did not take over any media?
Similarly, Golob and his colleagues were not ready to explain why GEN-I transferred 103,000 to the company of journalist Vesna Vuković after 2019. This was supposed to be their private matter. Golob’s media outlet Necenzurirano, from which Vuković, now the main publicist of Golob’s party, came from, in recent days has even published a story about the alleged pact between Janez Janša and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, in which they draw us an inadmissible international conspiracy to collect data to discredit Golob in the past. To simply explain the reasons for remittances, however, does not occur to them. If everything is clean, what is the problem? What then if the transfers from GEN-I were being checked? It is right that the operations of state-owned companies are checked so that no one abuses their position and takes advantage of them.
But for Golob and the Necenzurirano, the only problem is how it got out and got into the media in many countries in the Balkans. That the Golob’s have not yet taken over any media because their takeover of RTVS is still ongoing and because of that there is no freedom there yet, which Golob also answered to Mahnič, is also not entirely accurate. But it is interesting that Golob so freely admits that they are taking over RTVS. With quick political purges at the top of SDH and Telekom, they took over Siol.net, the second most read online portal in the country. I know this from personal experience because I managed it as an editor until they took over. All other major media, with the partial exception of RTVS, were controlled by the left before.
Those smaller media that they did not take over, such as Nova24TV or Demokracija, they try to destroy by stopping advertising, namely funding. And also, with the special investigative commission of Mojca Pašek Šetinc, formerly an editor at TVS, who, with the transfer of the party’s most active politicians, shows us how politically oriented TVS was in the past. But they have a problem in the government, because in their press they are firing journalists because there are no more readers. The government is already looking for money to solve this “problem” of the media, which is read by fewer and fewer people.
Mahnič responded to Golob’s claim that they had not gotten over the defeat in the elections as follows: “Earlier, you announced higher salaries for officials in the next mandate. Mr. Prime Minister, we have already gotten over April 24th, but I doubt that you will ever get over it, because you will not live to see this higher salary.”
Earlier, Mahnič angered the Prime Minister with a question that summed up the media coverage in the Balkans and the entire event: “Slovenia is written about as a country of clientelism and corruption, which reaches the very top of Slovenian politics, and as the main actor in this spiral of criminal acts they mention you, the Prime Minister, Robert Golob. You will not find a single word about this in the largest Slovenian media, which is understandable. You have conquered practically everything in turn, and they favour you. For one, you changed the law and directly changed the management, against the other, your Telekom Slovenije administration withdrew the lawsuit, even though this state-owned company was damaged, and for the third, your personal and family friends, as members or presidents of the boards, invest with generous advertisements. The whole octopus of one of the main media tycoons depends on the will of your chosen ones anyway. At a bad bank, or rather, after the merger, at the Slovenian state holding. Formerly a private company, GEN-I, but now a state-owned company, you see it as your sandbox, where you can play as you, please without rules, or as your foreign minister Tanja Fajon said, if individuals are playing monopolies with state assets and thus pointed the finger at you, Klemen Boštjančič, Žiga Debeljak, Borut Jamnik, and Matej Narat, there will be no winners, only losers. The media already reported last year that you found yourself in an international financial investigation due to transfers of the GEN-I company abroad. Based on the documents published at the time, it was evident that in 2019 and 2020, GEN-I transferred around 600,000 euros to the private company MB Consulting, which was founded a few days before the first transaction, but the owner, Martin Berishaj, was withdrawing the money on the go…”
Regarding the transfers from GEN-I, which were withdrawn by Martin Berishaj, who is also the ambassador to Croatia, when he was accused that the whole thing was a construct and that SDS had not gotten over the defeat in the elections, Golob responded in a way that has been used many times like this, by denying knowing Berishaj: “No picture is with me. I do not know him. I have never met him and he himself confirmed this to the media that we have never met, seen, or even known each other. However, he is very well acquainted with the respected MP Janez Janša. I also said this to Pirkovič, and that is why this story was suddenly withdrawn from the media before April 24th, because you realised that if Mr. Berishaj can be connected to anyone, he can only connect with your esteemed leader.”
Golob did not explain what connection the recordings of Janša’s courtesy meetings with Berishaj have with the transfers from GEN-I. Janša had no influence on Golob’s decisions, to whom the money from GEN-I will be transferred. And the fact that Golob does not know someone does not mean that it is not necessary to tell him about the reasons for which money was transferred to this gentleman. As far as is known, Janša did not transfer anything to him.
When Mahnič repeated the question, he said: “You constantly want to withdraw by pointing the finger at us. And given that, Mr. Prime Minister, we have already caught you lying several times here, even on past stories, we do not even believe you anymore regarding the Romanian account, although you will probably say that Janez Janša went to Bucharest and opened an account for you. You have no other explanation. I cannot live without Janša is your only guide. That is why once again, Prime Minister. I wonder: Where did the money end up? Where did the cash that was withdrawn from the GEN-I company in the countries of the former Yugoslavia go?”
During these events in the parliament, the usual political purges carried out by Golob’s coalition in social subsystems continued. This week at the top of museums. From a professional point of view, these premature exchanges are unreasonable. This was also pointed out by 79 educated people, who accuse the government of inadmissible and undemocratic behaviour with the quick dismissal of the heads of two museums, which they achieved by establishing a new museum instead of the museum of recent history and the museum of independence.