By: Vida Kocjan
Janez Moškrič, a member of the Slovenian Democratic Party, and I talked about working in the National Assembly. As a former long-time city councillor and president of the Sostro District Community, he is also extremely familiar with the situation in the City of Ljubljana. He also revealed how it was with the threats of extreme leftists to him and his family.
Demokracija: How do you assess the work of the National Assembly since you became a Member of Parliament?
Moškrič: On March 5th last year, I entered parliament with great respect. That was the time before the epidemic was declared, so we were not wearing masks yet and we were able to shake hands. I often like to say who was the first to shake my hand and wish me all the best, but I also say who did not even look at me, because the Slovene Democratic Party was probably written on my forehead. Given that this is my first term, of course I cannot compare this term with past ones, but given the circumstances required by the fight with covid-19, I can say that this is a very special term. It is known that the mandate after the elections began with exclusion and continued into “idleness”. Namely, despite the good public finance picture, Šarec’s government was not able to prepare for the developmental and much-needed structural shifts. As a result, the sessions of the National Assembly were less “tiring”. All this changed radically with the election of a new prime minister, Janez Janša, the declaration of an epidemic and the confirmation of the ministerial team. The necessary legislative measures had to be prepared, as we were all aware that this was not only a health crisis, but also an economic and social one. The committee meetings the whole day and night until the morning of the next day. Perhaps the vast majority of citizens are not even aware that all this is the essence and charm of democracy. The Constitution and laws of the Republic of Slovenia, together with EU regulations, really protect an individual’s freedom, will and desire. Therefore, the “price of democracy” is high and is tied primarily to the time and legal component. Of course, I must add in the same breath that this does not justify the actions of the far left, which has used all the efforts of the coalition MPs and the government for a political pogrom. There are sacred things in democracy too, and this is certainly human life, I wish truth was also one of them. However, there have been too many inappropriate statements by free-thinking leftists at this time who have no understanding of the democratic process.
Demokracija: You are a member of several parliamentary boards and two committees. What is the biggest challenge for you?
Moškrič: As I come to parliament directly from local self-government, I am pleased to be a member of the Committee on Home Affairs, Public Administration and Local Government. Here, I can highlight the importance of involving those for whom the legislation is intended in the drafting of legislation. Example: under the previous government, a completely wrong bill on weapons was drafted, so we organised a public debate, the government listened to the profession, and a law was passed that is applicable in practice. In the field of local self-government, the establishment of provinces is still a great challenge for me. I am a great supporter of provinces and I firmly believe that this would make the bureaucratic apparatus cheaper and not more expensive. The provinces would perform those tasks that the municipality is not capable of on its own and therefore already now organises work with other municipalities. Spatial planning is also a problem, let me just suggest a new roundabout on the state road into a business zone that is not there, and not far away a still dangerous Y-intersection in a place with a century-old company and a new craft business zone actually operating. We often have a controversy with the chairwoman of the culture committee about how I do not understand high culture, which needs a minimum of one million euros for one film, because that is culture, even if only 1,100 viewers watch it and then it wanders to the depot. By no means do I want to be disrespectful to film production, I myself support those projects that make an effort and with less than 100 thousand euros make a documentary that is watched by 110 thousand people. The state has to support, order, if you will, demand products that are culturally called creations, and not creators just because they once graduated from an academy. However, it must support young creators on the initial path.
Demokracija: How do you assess the work of the current government when the situation is extremely demanding?
Moškrič: The work of this government will be assessed by the people of Slovenia in the upcoming elections, and I guarantee my support through the votes on important documents for the smooth functioning of the government and ministries. It is my greatest pleasure to hear the statements of Slovenian mayors thanking this government for its willingness to cooperate and support projects that have been standing still for years. Very important infrastructure projects are being built, and I do not just mean the second track. There are still many projects from kindergartens to homes for the elderly. During this time, tenders were conducted for the field of education, which had not been in place for 10 years. That will remain for this government and that outweighs all the effort. All respect to the Prime Minister and all those responsible. Despite the difficult health situation, I can put successful economic and development projects first. In the field of fighting the epidemic and the conduct of this government, I always have before my eyes a picture from the first wave, when in a European country, doctors turned their backs on politicians because they felt forgotten. This has not happened in Slovenia to date. From the very beginning, the government has made every effort to ensure that medical staff have adequate protection and other resources, including facilities. Therefore, I firmly believe that all purchases were made for the sole purpose of providing everything necessary at a given time. And this will also be shown by all possible audits and controls.
Demokracija: What about relations with the opposition? What is your experience of working in parliament?
Moškrič: As I said, it is very sad that some are not able to look a person in the eye, make their statements in conversation with you, or accuse you without knowing the personal circumstances of the individual. This is not a democratic process. I have been through all this, but I am still convinced that it is worth the effort and to talk and listen, this is our task, this is what citizens expect from us.
Demokracija: At the beginning of the summer, you were subjected to verbal attacks by extremists, threatening you and your family. You reported it to the police. What was going on and what is happening with the report?
Moškrič: Citizens have the right to express their opinion, including those who doubt the vaccine, and in general covid-19. However, this does not mean that they have the right to spit on MPs, insult them and use vocabulary that makes an individual feel threatened personally or for their loved ones. As there were allegations that the MPs are walking with our heads bowed and did not want to talk to the protesters, I gladly listened to them, told them my position clearly and wished them a nice day. This bothered them so much that on the next occasion they “greeted” me with juicy insults. I would have endured this since we were given two ears. The words of the protesters “We know where you live, first we will get your family – children, then you” were the reason why I decided to report to the police. It took quite a bit of effort for me to explain to the police officer that these are words that most of us understand as a threat. I was also able to identify the person who shouted such a “protest” slogan. However, I will use a “probability account” to see how the prosecution will react to the current practice.
Demokracija: How do you assess the attacks of extremists, which are only escalating? Where do you think they have the support?
Moškrič: Sad, almost appalling, is the fact that the activities of extremists and their sympathisers are similar to the Nazi and fascist actions of the past century and that they are capable of accusing democratically elected authorities of such discarded acts as those carried out by fascists, Nazis and communists. My father spent 9 months in a fascist concentration camp on Rab, and that is why these words from the mouths of far-left members of parliament hurt me all the more.
Demokracija: During the epidemic, the current government provided considerable assistance to both the economy and the population. How do you assess these measures?
Moškrič: In order not to be biased, I will rather help myself with numbers and indicators that are intended for this in the country and the international community. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates, 4.3%, representing just over 70,000 people. For comparison, since 2017 this number has not fallen below 69,000 people, and if the current vaccination rate in Slovenia were 70%, tourism and the event industry would be in full bloom, which would have an even more favourable effect on this number. The indicator of government bond yields on international financial markets is important; we are better than France, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Italy…
Demokracija: As a former entrepreneur, you are probably happy about the measures for the economy also in connection with the bureaucratisation of business. What do you think about this?
Moškrič: This is necessary for a Slovenian society based on small businesses and sole proprietors, which I have been alone for almost 15 years. We must be aware that we have very extensive tax legislation in Slovenia, in addition we are part of the European Union and we are also bound by its directives. Everything we do in this area will ultimately increase government revenue. A transparent, but above all reasonable and simple tax policy ensured that entrepreneurs would be happy to pay “the emperor what is the emperor’s”.
Demokracija: Your statement from the time when you were an entrepreneur is well-known, that as an entrepreneur there are parts all over Slovenia where you can create good stories and good development of the place with good politicians. So politicians are not all the same. You agree?
Moškrič: Man was created as a social being, he wants and must belong to a larger or smaller community. We all know how rich our homeland is with its cultural landscape and cultural heritage. Churches and bells represent an important cultural monument of the Slovenian and European nation. Almost all “local personages” are aware of this, in other words the presidents of local and district communities and, of course, the mayors of urban and suburban municipalities. I am happy to hear the statements of the mayors from the liberal left field list, how much they know about bells and the meaning of bells for the Christian man. That is also right, as we are talking about the centuries and millennial old history of Slovenian man.
Demokracija: In which places have you been most fascinated by politicians working for the common good; is it also possible to draw a line between left and right politicians here?
Moškrič: I will be really very personal here. The vast majority of Slovenian mayors strive for the good of their citizens and, in fact, it is not possible to draw a line between different worldviews. However, it very much depends on personal ability and willingness to engage. The function of the president of the district, local community and mayor is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To whoever does his best, success comes. This policy is also advocated by this government, which is why it has prepared so much funding for local projects. The European money, successfully obtained by Slovenia under the leadership of Janez Janša, will go to people to improve the living standards of every inhabitant of Slovenia.
Demokracija: For a long time, you were the president of the Sostro District Community in Ljubljana. How would you sum up your 16 years of leading this community, which of your efforts have fallen on the most fertile ground?
Moškrič: Just last Thursday, the current president of the Sostro District Community, Igor Koprivnik, and the mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Janković, invited me to four openings in the Sostro District Community area, two in the field of Javor and Janč hinterland with water supply, for which they also received European funds, and two new road sections. All this is the realisation of the long-term efforts of the District Community’s council and the locals. In the lowland part, the real construction site is a large reconstruction and enlargement of the Pedenjped kindergarten, the extension of the Sostro primary school and the construction of sewerage and road reconstructions. Happy.
Demokracija: You were also a city councillor. How did you cooperate with the mayor of Ljubljana?
Moškrič: I myself was the president of Sostro District Community for 4 years, when the current mayor took office. In solving the problem of the Strojan family, he skipped some important factors of democracy: negotiation, negotiation, and this was probably a lesson for him, but I myself remained loyal to the locals and I do not regret it. I was constantly working for their good, and after all, the mayor also realised that the entire area of the City of Ljubljana needs to be evenly developed.
Demokracija: How do you assess the development of the municipality in general in recent years?
Moškrič: Ljubljana needed and got a lot of new things under the current mayor. I sincerely hope that he also took care of all the appropriate and transparent documentation on the projects. Stožice Sports Park is certainly not an exemplary project. Ljubljana is the European capital, so I am extremely happy that this government, which I support, has supported the project of a new bus and train station, as this is the place where the visitor gets a first impression of the city.
Janez Moškrič was born on February 15th, 1979 in Zadvor in the City of Ljubljana. He is a wood technician and a graduate of the Faculty of Administration. He has been married since 2010 and is a father of three children. He was employed at the Kastelic Carpentry for five years. He was a self-employed entrepreneur from 2007 until entering parliament. He was the president of the Sostro District Community for four terms and a councillor in the Ljubljana City Council for two terms.