By: Sara Bertoncelj
“Slovenia cultivates good strategic and partnership relations with the United States, regardless of which administration is in power. In all the governments I have led, this was how it was, and this will also continue in the future,” Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the parliamentary question, posed by Marjan Šarec. Janša also added that some have decided to follow the media wave; however, he has decided against it. “We will see who was right, but I assure you that this will not affect the relations between Slovenia and the United States in the future,” Prime Minister Janša also said, adding that they have maintained the ability to think for themselves since the times of deciding on the independence of Slovenia. The Prime Minister also asked Marjan Šarec, why he gave up when it became clear that an epidemic was coming if he is so smart.
The extraordinary session of the National Assembly began with parliamentary questions for the Prime Minister Janez Janša. The Prime Minister answered the questions related to the epidemic, current events in the country, and the regulation of the comprehensive use of cannabis. Marjan Šarec from the LMŠ party asked some rhetorical questions, in which he also touched on the presumption of the government’s failure to tackle the epidemic. He was most interested in how the Prime Minister Janez Janša explains that he supports Donald Trump, who denies the existence of the coronavirus. He also mentioned that the Prime Minister did not congratulate Joe Biden on winning the election, even though most of the world did. Janša replied that they would be happy to congratulate the person who will be elected for the position of the President of America, but that the official results have not yet been declared.
“Slovenia cultivates good strategic and partnership relations with the United States, regardless of which administration is in power. In all the governments I have led, this was how it was, and this will also continue in the future,” Janša explained. He also added that some have decided to follow the media wave; however, he has decided against it. “We will see who was right, but I assure you that this will not affect the relations between Slovenia and the United States in the future.” He also told Šarec that he hopes that they would also unanimously support the offer made to the United States to install a rotating unit of the U.S. Army in Slovenia and that they would support Slovenia’s commitment to fulfiling its obligations in NATO more consistently.
The opposition’s cooperation is needed
Janša also made sure to mention the event that happened thirty years ago, when the Demos’ parliamentary club in Poljče decided to hold a plebiscite on the independence of Slovenia. “If that decision had not been made then, we would probably not be sitting in this hall today, as members of an independent country,” he reminded everyone. It was clear that no one outside our borders officially supported independence. However, we decided to think for ourselves, and that is why we have an independent country today. “Now, we continue maintaining this ability to think with our own heads,” Janša pointed out, also referring to his congratulations to Biden. The Prime Minister also asked Marjan Šarec, why he gave up when it became clear that an epidemic was coming if he is so smart. Šarec was not satisfied with the answer and reiterated his question, also asking how can Janša support Trump’s policy, while in Slovenia, he criticizes anyone who opposes the measures to curb the spread of the infection.
He then asked Janša why he did not call on Trump and ask him to tell his supporters to put on a mask, and then start dealing with the epidemic himself. The Prime Minister replied that he could not even influence Šarec’s behaviour at the time when he was downplaying the severity of the virus, and he and Nina Pirnat insisted that it was only a slightly more severe version of the flu, while Šarec also threatened his Minister of Health for accepting certain measures to contain the epidemic. “We are in the middle of a serious fight; I would like to appeal to the opposition to follow the example of its political predecessors, who were willing to work with their political opponents thirty years ago so that in the end, the plebiscite law was passed by a large majority. We now need something like that as well,” Janša concluded.
The country is dealing with problems, not statistics
SD MP Franc Terček blamed the Prime Minister for Slovenia’s failure in the covid situation and remarked that even the President of the Republic, Borut Pahor, had said that this time, the measures were adopted too late. He listed a few of the mistakes that, in his opinion, were made by the current government, and asked, how will Slovenia cope with these tragic statistics. Janša replied to the MP, making it clear that the country is dealing with problems, not statistics. He said that many people are just waiting for the government to do something or to not do it so that whatever happens, the government can then be criticized. He explained that the situation in Slovenia is similar to that elsewhere in Europe. However, in our country, the infection mainly spread from certain environments, where the people found it too difficult to wear a mask. This was also the case, for example, in schools, where the virus began to spread rapidly.
The situation in our country is also about a week ahead of other countries, mainly due to the schools. If everyone was more responsible, the virus would have been contained earlier, and with milder measures, Janša pointed out. He then asked Terček, which of the measures were proposed, or at least welcomed by his party. He said he would be happy to sit down with anyone and listen to his or her suggestions. Terček was also not very satisfied with the answers, he accused Janša of chaotic communication, as several people have supposedly mentioned to him that they turn off the television when Jelko Kacin, Aleš Hojs or Milan Krek are speaking. He also mentioned the lack of cooperation between the coalition and the opposition. Janša replied that they had offered to cooperate in May, but most opposition parties refused. “The offer is still on the table,” the Prime Minister reiterated. He also thanked Terček’s party colleague Dejan Židan, who said that the government should be criticized, but at the same time, the measures should also be respected.
Mesec does not understand what an elementary school student understands
The Levica party MP Luka Mesec showed a photo of Wolt’s delivery man, who was fined over the weekend. The police reported that he refused to put on a protective mask, while sitting on the steps of the Franciscan Church, in the middle of the centre of Ljubljana. The opposition, of course, turned this into a tragic story about how a working man cannot even eat a burek without being punished. Mesec accused Janša of being the culprit for the entire crisis and asked why will Janša not accept responsibility for it. The Prime Minister responded and told Mesec that the food delivery man had violated the ordinance on wearing a mask. He said that it is not a problem when one person does this. But when many people do this, it becomes a problem. Janša said that even his youngest son, who is currently in the second grade of primary school, understands that it is necessary to adhere to the measures, and reminded Mesec that they are trying to make a hero out of someone who violated a decree protecting public health.
It is not true that the measures are only being implemented in Slovenia; we also need to look around a bit. Even last week, the mainstream media wrote praises to Austria for not having such strict measures, and from tomorrow onwards, their measures will be even stricter than those in our country. Janša also reminded Mesec that he already was part of the coalition, and he contributed to someone giving up on it. “If everything is as you say it is, I do not know why you do not simply take over the government. Your coalition prime minister-designate from the corn maze recently stated that he has forty-six votes. If you have forty-six votes, set up your government, you know everything, and you will continue with the work, and somebody else will be showing you pictures,” the Prime Minister remarked. “Do not ask us to resign, if you can replace us,” Janša suggested.
The coalition agreement stipulates the use of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes
Janja Sluga addressed the Prime Minister with a question regarding the regulation of the comprehensive use of cannabis. She wanted to know whether the government supports the SMC party’s intentions for comprehensive regulation in this area, and what steps they could expect the government to take in the future. “Other coalition commitments that are part of the agreement must also be implemented, however, we are placing a great emphasis on regulating the production and use of cannabis for industrial and medical purposes, as well as for educational purposes. It’s time to start talking about this topic. “Ossified” bureaucratic views need to be changed. The use of cannabis is versatile, and many industries benefit from it,” Sluga pointed out. In Slovenia, the legislation in this regard is outdated, while elsewhere, this is a multi-billion-dollar business.
Janša said that point 6 of Chapter 6 of the coalition agreement requires the government to regulate the use of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes. The current regulation summarizes the regulation of the United Nations Convention, and the regulation has been under discussion for some time at the UN, within most countries. The Ministry of Agriculture is preparing an amendment to two rules – regarding the acquisition of a permit for the cultivation of cannabis with the possibility of processing cannabis, and regarding the rules on growing seedlings, which will determine the conditions for growing seedlings and further processing. The adoption of both rules is planned for the spring of next year, Prime Minister Janša announced, adding: “I agree that some arrangements are too strict, placing Slovenian producers in an uncompetitive position and that this must be regulated.”