By: Metod Berlec
Radovan Cerjak was born in 1967 in Slovenj Gradec. In Velenje he attended the then high school of social sciences. He graduated from the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana. He works in a law office in the center of Ljubljana. He is known as a very good lawyer. In the past, he has already proved himself with many important court victories, including at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia. He is also socially and journalistically active.
We spoke with the well-known Ljubljana lawyer Radovan Cerjak, who succeeded in the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia a decade ago with a request to ban the naming of Tito’s street in Ljubljana. Recently, he has also been known as the supervisor of the Slovenian Press Agency and Telekom Slovenije. Recently, however, he tested himself as a writer.
DEMOKRACIJA: Mr. Cerjak, at its session on September 26th, 2011, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia, at your suggestion or request, annulled the decree of the City of Ljubljana on the naming of Tito’s street. The decree was adopted in the city council on the initiative of the late Peter Božič from the Zoran Janković List. In its explanation, the court stated that the naming of the road with the name “Tito’s street” was inconsistent with the constitutional principle of respect for human dignity from Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. How do you view the decision of the Constitutional Court at that time today? What is its significance?
Cerjak: Personally, I think that the appointment of Tito’s street in Ljubljana was a deliberate provocation. Some who actually stood behind this appointment have tested the limits of patience of some. At that time, we agreed with the former victim of the communist regime, today, unfortunately, the late Mrs. Lidija Drobnič, and some others, that we were trying to prevent this appointment. I carried out the case operationally at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia.
I, too, was surprised by the decision of the Constitutional Court, which unanimously found that such a name after the criminal Josip Broz Tito, a man who can be placed side by side with the world’s greatest murderers (Stalin, Mao Zedong, Hitler and Pol Pot). Positively, of course. It was then that I realised that even things that had been lost in advance could still be moved, and this gave me hope for possible changes.
Unfortunately, this decision took some Solomon solution, according to which only a new naming after criminals like Tito is unconstitutional. This is a weakness of this decision, but even such a decision of the Constitutional Court is a really big thing. For all the victims of the communist regime who feel hurt at the names of the streets and roads after such criminals. Their personal dignity is affected.
In Germany, where consistent denazification was introduced immediately after World War II, something like this cannot happen. There, the glorification of totalitarian Nazi symbols is forbidden. They have no street or square named after Adolf Hitler or any other criminal. The Germans are done with their totalitarianism. I hope to experience this in my homeland as well…
DEMOKRACIJA: How do you see what is happening in Radenci? After the Constitutional Court repealed the decree renaming Tito’s street in Radenci to Street of Slovenian Independence in early June, the municipal council, at the initiative of Mayor Roman Leljak, again supported the renaming at the end of June. Well, fans of the Yugoslav communist dictator are demanding a referendum on this issue…
Cerjak: Apparently we still have heads without a shred of reason. No matter what anyone in Radenci thinks of the mayor, such a renaming is a civilizational thing. And no man with an IQ higher than room temperature would demand a referendum on such a question. None! In Radenci, some still cannot get out of their ideological frameworks due to opposition to the mayor. Unfortunately!
DEMOKRACIJA: Well, lately, the Constitutional Court has been quite upset with some decisions, in which one cannot get rid of the feeling that they are at least partly politically motivated. Last week, their decision resonated considerably that government decrees banning and restricting the number of participants in rallies during the new coronavirus epidemic was unconstitutional. How do you view these decisions of theirs?
Cerjak: Decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia as well as other courts must be respected, even if they are difficult to understand. As a lawyer myself, I say this out loud. I find it difficult to understand that the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia declared certain legal regulations of the government, which were aimed only at protecting citizens at the time of the threatening coronavirus epidemic and were adopted by all responsible countries, unconstitutional.
On the other hand, let me take this opportunity to say that I have had a constitutional appeal in the Constitutional Court for more than four years, which is given priority! For more than four years, the Constitutional Court has given priority to the so-called Kočevje process. On behalf of Mrs. Svetek, who is the daughter of one of the convicts killed in an unknown place on the so-called Kočevje process, I lodged a constitutional complaint. The lady is already older and the matter is not moving from a standstill. Despite countless emergencies, even with the President of the Constitutional Court. Apparently some are playing the card of the complainant’s age, which is really discarding.
As for the unreported rallies at the time of the worst epidemic, I am only telling you a thing entrusted to me by a friend who has lived in France for many years. No one there shouts that France is a dictatorship, as do the boys who run around the Ljubljana market in long underwear with wings on their backs. There, according to a friend, police officers would initially use a megaphone to call violators to disperse and warn them that they were endangering people with their actions. The next step would be, as far as people would not disperse, to use tear gas, water cannons and batons. This is what they do in a democracy. We are supposed to be ruled by a gloomy dictatorship, and we calmly tolerate such rallies during the worst epidemic. Upside down world!
DEMOKRACIJA: It is obvious that the current Constitutional Court is strongly inclined to the left in terms of worldview. How do you comment on the fact that prof. Dr Janez Kranjec recently ran out of one MP in the National Assembly to become a constitutional judge? The president of LMŠ, Marjan Šarec, described this as a great victory of the opposition…
Cerjak: The fact that such a distinguished lawyer as Dr Janez Kranjc (I still remember him from the faculty as one of the most honest and fair professors), was not elected as a judge of the Constitutional Court, is no victory of the opposition. This is a victory of madness. Mr Šarec’s statement says just about everything about him…
DEMOKRACIJA: The European Commission published its second annual report on June 20th, I believe, as part of the comprehensive mechanism for monitoring the rule of law in the European Union and the Member States, which was set up last year. The purpose of the report is to strengthen the common understanding of fundamental values, to promote a culture of the rule of law and thus to strengthen respect for this principle in the European Union as a whole. How do you generally comment on such reports?
Cerjak: Such reports are, in most cases, a more political pamphlet that has nothing to do with reality. Some well-paid Brussels officials write such reports on the basis of information given to them by ladies and gentlemen who publicly bow before monuments to criminals. That is sad. As I said, such reports have mostly nothing to do with reality. However, they are well used by the dominant media in our country…
DEMOKRACIJA: In the former Party newspaper Delo, this report for Slovenia was accompanied by the title “The principle of division of power has begun”. Is that true? Personally, it seems to me that the former branch of government systematically undermines the efficiency of the executive with its judicial decisions…
Cerjak: I have not bought Delo in a long time, nor any other daily newspapers. It is a waste of money. I read a sentence or two that is freely available online. I therefore do not know the contents of this article to such an extent that I could comment on it. But it seems to me that your feeling does not deceive you.
DEMOKRACIJA: In September last year, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia appointed you as supervisor of the Slovenian Press Agency at the proposal of the government. The dispute between STA, led by Bojan Veselinovič, and the government’s communication office (UKOM), led by Uroš Urbanija, has been dragging on for months. In your opinion, what is the essence of the dispute?
Cerjak: Since the middle of last year, the founder’s representative has requested certain documentation from the STA director. The director, who previously signed a contract with the previous management of Ukom – and this contract also clearly defines the obligations of the STA (journalists of the dominant media forget about this contract) – instead of handing over the documentation, focused all his efforts to find an excuse for failing to meet his obligations. He even hired a lawyer who, according to director Veselinovič, is one of the greatest experts in corporate law in Slovenia, and he found that the contract was null and void in the part that talks about certain STA obligations. The same expert then, without the knowledge of the members of the Supervisory Board and in the presence of the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, explained things about the Supervisory Board meeting to journalists, who were “gathered” by the STA director in the lobby of the STA building. For this he received a payment of 1,800.00 euros. Apparently this is the amount when some find that even the Earth is flat.
DEMOKRACIJA: To what extent is the business documentation burdensome for Veselinović?
Cerjak: Time will tell. However, I can tell you from my personal experience that in most cases, when the management denies the partner the right to information, which is regulated by the Companies Act, these are cases when the management conceals something from the owner.
DEMOKRACIJA: Well, I myself have a feeling that the dispute with Ukom suits Veselinovič, so that he can politically exploit himself to slander the government at home and abroad. I think this is very much in line with the opposition and its political godparents from the circles of the so-called deep countries…
Cerjak: I do not think the feeling deceives you.
DEMOKRACIJA: A few days ago, the Administrative Court granted STA’s request and suspended the implementation of the decree on the provision of STA public service, which was adopted by the government in early June. With it, it intended to regulate in more detail the performance of the public service and the financing of the STA. Director Bojan Veselinovič welcomed the court’s decision with great satisfaction. Your comment?
Cerjak: Comment will be possible when the court’s decision is final. This is only the first half. In my opinion, an appeal against this decision, which is not yet final, will follow…
DEMOKRACIJA: We are almost at the end of our conversation. A few days ago, your book ‘Freedom and Hope’ was published by Nova obzorja. Where did you get the idea for the book?
Cerjak: I have had the idea for this book in my head for a long time. I have already written the matter several times, but then, because I did not like it, I also destroyed it. When I fell ill with corona, I used the time of self-isolation to complete the book. I also wanted to literary process material from our silenced history, which, at least as far as I know, has not yet been processed in our country. The final grade, however, will be given by readers.
DEMOCRACIJA: Can you say a few words about the content of the book for our readers?
Cerjak: It is about the fate of two good people, the son of a murdered home guard and a young partisan. Their life destinies meet by chance in 1990. I also mentioned some real historical figures in the book, such as Home Guard Commander Krenner, Dr Kante, etc.
DEMOKRACIJA: What is the main message of this book debut of yours, if I may say so?
Cerjak: Truth and recognition liberate…
DEMOKRACIJA: And for the end. Ever since the current government took office, we have witnessed violent attacks by the left opposition, agitprop left media and the so-called deep states to it. Next year will be an election year in Slovenia. What are your expectations about this?
Cerjak: Today I read and listen to how this government is over. This has supposedly been confirmed by the results of the water referendum. Nonsense! There is still a long way to go before the elections and public opinion may change in an instant.
I myself expect that the citizens will finally find out who the Slovenian Mickey Mice, Supermans and Anna Kareninas were… Autumn will be really interesting.