by Sara Bertoncelj (Nova24TV)
The question is not whether or now we will control the epidemic because we certainly will control it. The real question is what the price is that we will have to pay for this, Janes Janša pointed out on the show A Conversation with the Prime Minister (Pogovor s predsednikom vlade). He also warned that no ordinance will stop the virus, only the responsible behaviour of everyone, or at least 99 percent of the people, can do that. However, if the opinion leaders and part of the media are in that one percent that is left, we can only increase the available capacities and pray that the vaccine will be available as soon as possible. “We do not need a dictatorship; we need common sense and solidarity. Hence, an appeal to all those who cannot stand our government: just wait a few weeks, a few months, and then you can protest, gather, draw posters and shout “Death to Janša and Janšaism,” but please, do not destroy our efforts to stop the virus. People are dying because of it. Our healthcare system is collapsing, which is resulting in additional casualties and additional damage. I believe that at least some basic solidarity exists in every person, and now is the time for it to come to light,” the Prime Minister urged everyone.
The second wave has really shown its teeth; on Wednesday, 1275 patients were being treated in the ordinary hospital wards, 208 patients in intensive care, and unfortunately, we also recorded the highest number of deaths in one day – 45 deaths. At the beginning of the show A Conversation with the Prime Minister Janez Janša, the host asked if the virus is under control and if the healthcare system would survive. “I pray that it will soon be under control, nowhere in the world is it currently under control, as this will only be possible when a vaccine that works will be discovered, however, the prospects are good,” said Janša and praised our healthcare system, which, even though it was practically being destroyed for many years, still works wonders. In March, 120 beds were available for patients with covid, of which 19 beds were available in the intensive care unit, and the capacities are now tenfold, he said. “If I had been told in April that our healthcare system was capable of providing ten times more capacity, I would not have believed it,” the prime minister admitted, adding: “A lot was done, even more than I believed could be.” But of course, the bureaucratic obstacles cannot be removed overnight, we cannot provide the doctors with five times the salary, in order to convince them to return from Dubai or Austria, where they went because the conditions at home were too bad, he explained, adding that they are also addressing these problems with the intervention measures. They have managed to rehabilitate the premises at the University Medical Centra in Ljubljana in a record time, even though the premises in question have been empty for the past fourteen years, so over a hundred new beds will now be available to relieve the hospitals that are bursting at the seams.
When you took over the government, you had to face the empty warehouses with no protective equipment, there were also not nearly enough medical ventilators, but the left says that the government did nothing and did not prepare for the second wave during the summer, some even made fun of you when you predicted the second wave of the epidemic, said the host of the show, Aleksander Rant. “When we were preparing for the second wave, we decided that the number of three hundred patients triggers the red phase and the drastic measures, and we currently have almost five times as many. The number can still continue to grow, and when it comes to the measures that came into force yesterday, we will only see their results at the end of next week. Until then, the situation is very serious. I appeal to everyone to adhere to the measures – no government, no measures can stop the virus, only our solidarity and reasonableness can do that,” the Prime Minister called on the public. He also explained that it is not enough for 90 percent of people to follow the measures, because 10 percent is a lot, as that is 200 thousand people who act irresponsibly. “If there will continue to be no awareness of the fact that this is not about the government, it is not about the opposition; it is not about politics, it is about the health of each of us and especially those who are most vulnerable, we will be in the second wave for a long time.”
“If they let us work, things will be different in Slovenia in three years, the state is firmly decided, and the first steps have already been taken.”
In the next three years, there will be many upgrades and investments, Janša announced. “If they let us work, things will be different in Slovenia in three years,” he promised, and reminded the viewers that the Jesenice hospital is very much worn out; Golnik was built in the times of Austria-Hungary, and in most regions, there have been no new capacities made available in many years. The money for healthcare was lost in various supply networks and corruption affairs, and if we added up all the billions, we could have had a healthcare system that is more modern than Austria’s by now, he pointed out. “Unfortunately, this was not the case, and we will have to make up for the delay. We expect that in the next three years, each region will be provided with a nursing hospital, we will build two new infection clinics – in Ljubljana and Maribor, a new general hospital in the Gorenjska region, and many other complementary health facilities in other regions,” he explained in more detail. A recovery plan will be adopted by the end of this year, and the funds for it are already partially reserved. The plan will mainly be based on the use of funds from the European Recovery and Resilience Facility. “Huge shifts will be made here; material conditions can be improved – given what we potentially have available for us, as the European funds are partly still in question, due to the nonsense they have been doing in Brussels in recent days,” he added. He also mentioned that the people, that is, the personnel, are a different story. It takes several years to train a doctor; the specialization takes a long time. “The state is firmly determined, and the first steps have already been made, in order to correct the mistakes in the pay system, the mistakes within the structure. We can educate a thousand people every year, but they will still continue to go abroad if the pay is three times better there. This reality must be acknowledged, and the problem must be solved,” said the Prime Minister.
The rule of law is not the decision of the political majority, an independent court should be making the decisions, and not the political majority
The whole of Europe is affected by the virus, so why did some MEPs in the European Parliament, including some from the European People’s Party, join the ideological attack on the historic agreement of the heads of state, that could expeditiously help the countries in crisis, Rant asked. Janša replied that this is “a sad situation and we have already experienced it in history, and it has never been good, as the countries fell apart, the empires fell apart. Those with a lot of responsibility on their shoulders were arguing about their palaces and the menus on the Titanic, and the ship or the country were sailing towards the iceberg. A similar thing is happening now. In July, we had the longest meeting in the history of the European Union at the European Council. It lasted four days and four nights, it was full of interruptions and bilateral coordination, and with a lot of effort and concessions, we reached an agreement that is financially worth almost 2 trillion euros and contains a commitment to the rule of law.
But this is a value, enshrined in the foundations of the Treaty of Lisbon and it contains the necessary instruments to ensure that the rule of law is respected. Article 7 enables the exclusion of a state that violates the basic principles of the rule of law, which is provided for in the existing legal norm. Nevertheless, there has been an attempt at technical coordination between the leadership of the European Parliament and the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in order to establish an additional instrument for the majority in the European Council to decide if the rule of law is respected in a certain country, which means that the political majority would be making the decision on this.” Janša explained that this could also happen, for example, at the suggestion of an NGO. As an example, he mentioned the Peace Institute, which can simply decide that it does not like the government or a certain investment, then triggers the procedure, and therefore, the investment is at least partially frozen, and the bureaucratic procedures lead to the decisions, where the Council decides by the qualified majority. In this case, the ten main states can outvote the others. “This is an abuse of its name, the rule of law is not the decision of the political majority, an independent court or an independent body should be making the decisions, and not the political majority,” the Prime Minister warned. He also said that they already talked about this in July and mentioned the case in which Slovenia could block the project in the Netherlands and therefore the funds for their bypass road would be blocked. “The media and the Dutch government would be upset and ask where Slovenia got the right to do this, they would soon “return the favour,” and this would essentially be the disintegration of the European Union, total chaos,” he stressed, adding that this is a never-ending game. This is a totally crazy thing, he emphasized. After four days of discussion, the case was dismissed in July, he then explained, and the members returned to the Lisbon Treaty, where the instruments are envisaged, where the court ultimately makes the decision.
The general secretary of the school union, Branimir Štrukelj, threw off his mask in protest, and the results are bad
The host of the show reminded the viewers that in Slovenia, the profession estimated that masks should also be worn in schools, and the teachers and professors began to protest at the call of the Social Democrats, saying that they cannot work under these conditions. Even this very mild measure was too much for the trade unionists and the Social Democrats at the time. These same people, however, then said that the government had taken action too late. “Whatever we would do, would be wrong,” Janša agreed with Rant, explaining that in Italy, they had fewer infections at the beginning of autumn than in we did, but they introduced masks for everyone from the age of six. The Slovenian government inquired about the reasons for this, and it turned out that this was necessary, considering the Italian experience from the first wave. The government then proposed a similar measure, and that’s when it started. “They shouted that it was impossible to breathe, the secretary-general of the Teachers Union, Branimir Štrukelj, threw off his mask in protest. The education protocol, which had been adopted earlier, suddenly became controversial. Some parties began spreading propaganda against masks in schools, and then a compromise was somehow reached. However, they were still not satisfied.
Well, the results are bad; the graphs show a sharp increase in the number of infections in the establishments where masks were not mandatory. In the second wave, ten percent of infected people are from the education sector, while the European average is five percent. Schoolchildren showed no symptoms, the virus was brought home, the parents brought it to work, the infection spread to the nursing homes. The only mistake was that we tried to reach a compromise with Štukelj, which is why Slovenia overtook the other countries by one week, in terms of the number of infections. I am sorry about that, we should have been stricter,” said the Prime Minister. As soon as it is possible for the schools to reopen, they will open, at least for the first three grades, the Prime Minister explained. “But this will only be safe if we all, but especially the authorities in the education sector, behave responsibly. We must adhere to the protocols adopted in the summer. We must not demonstratively take off our masks like Štrukelj did, because then, the whole team will not adhere to the measures. When students see such behaviour in teachers, what a bad example that is,” the Prime Minister wondered aloud. Distance learning can at least partially make up for lost time, but in extreme cases, the school year could be extended for one week in the summer. However, the healthcare sector cannot just stop its work for a week; this cannot be done, remote treatment is not something that is possible, Janša warned, and said this needs to be understood and the media should encourage this logical thinking and not make heroes out of the wrong people. It is not appropriate that the first news of the day is that someone throws off the mask and tries to get around the measures. “According to the constitution, gathering is allowed, it is part of democracy, part of our freedom, and I will always defend it, but let it wait another two weeks. It will still be possible to overthrow the government later, but now is really not the time for that,” Janša emphasized again.
“I can’t find any other words, except to say that this is crazy!”
When the government says wear your masks, the virus is a serious matter, opponents respond, saying the fascist government is putting muzzles on children. When the situation turns around, they accuse this government of being responsible for the children’s deaths – which fortunately has not happened yet – the host of the show exaggerated the situation a bit, although he was not far from the truth. Aleksander Rant asked the Prime Minister how to fight the vile system. What passes as the left in Slovenia is crazy. Or evil. Voices such as Dejan Židan’s are rare, even yesterday, certain members of the opposition at the session made a hero out of someone who did not wear a mask and was therefore fined, Janša commented on the recent situation. Then there was the situation with Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. The Academy includes many people who have contributed a lot to the general welfare we all enjoy. But their Commission for Human Rights decided to speak up, headed by Tine Hribar, Ph.D., and Renata Salecl, Ph.D., who oppose the dictatorial regime and the repressive measures. “My dear people, where do you see any repressive measures. We are one of the few countries that have not declared a state of emergency yet, and where the government has not been given additional powers. Anything that is not written in the Communicable Diseases Act, which is the legal basis for the measures we take, must be put through parliament in a mixed coalition. We already have to negotiate in the coalition, in order to get some logical things through the procedure, and then, the opposition is waiting for every proposal willing to fight as hard as they can, just like the media. Even the sensible, logical things sometimes do not manage to get through the procedure, let alone something that would be dictatorial. And now here we have some academics who label it a dictatorship. I can’t find any other words, except to say that this is crazy,” Janša explained how he viewers the statement of a certain part of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
I have a feeling that you are not actually allowed to rule, as far as the left political pole is concerned. As if they are just waiting for the story to be over, and then they will be the heroes again, Rant expressed his belief. “They say that they already have the necessary majority, but they have not filed the constructive vote of no confidence yet and have not replaced the government, because they are clearly afraid of the epidemic, because they know they are incompetent, that what they are saying will not hold up, and they have no idea what they would do if more things would have to be implemented in a week, than what they have done in four years. This is such a blatant manifestation of incompetence and contradiction, and it would not have lasted even two hours if the mainstream media had not supported this madness,” Janša added.
We know that certain doctors also say that the virus is made up, and these doctors are then invited to come to the national television
We now have fourteen days, where the situation is similar to that we had in the spring; we have two weeks to reduce the burden on hospitals, to reduce the number of infections. Were the latest measures necessary, were they suggested by the medial experts? Did you allow the profession to speak up, as, for example, Tanja Fajon demanded very loudly, was the host’s next question. “The experts have been working with us since the very beginning. However, we know that certain doctors also say that the virus is made up, and these doctors are then invited to the national television and are part of the RTV programme,” Janša reminded the viewers and explained that we have 99 percent of those who say one thing, and one percent of those who say otherwise. However, the national media outlet presents one view from every side and then calls it balanced reporting. The Prime Minister went on to explain that the profession, meaning the advisory group of the Minister of Health, as well as other various experts and hospital directors propose the measures, their proposals are then accepted and weighed, and sometimes the profession finds some of the proposed measures to be a bit premature, and all of this is recorded. “I don’t think there is a country where the profession has such a big impact on decision making. We have also formed an advisory group for the anti-corona legislative packages, where volunteers work under the leadership of Matej Lahovnik, who is investing a lot of effort into this. All the experts that want to participate are involved, and that is why we are successful. If there was no professional basis, we would not have survived a single week without a total collapse,” Janša emphasized. We are also consulting with other governments, said the Prime Minister, explaining that he regularly exchanges information with all of the people who make decisions in Europe and that he has a lot of information at his disposal. The European Council has a conference every two weeks, where experiences are exchanged, and findings from everywhere are taken into account. So, he listens to the profession – and not only Slovenian. “However, the information that our media presents is very selected, they more or less only publish what looks different from what we do. A lot of people are so misled, and they think we are just doing random things and believe that everyone else is acting differently. I understand those who think they are being wronged by the measures. I understand this, and I do not resent the critics, but I resent those who know what is happening in other countries but do not say so. The information is passed on to the Slovenian public very selectively.”
The measures will stay in place until the virus stops spreading, when at least 60 percent of the population is vaccinated, the Prime Minister shared the plans for the future. Surveys that show that more than half of the people do not intend to get vaccinated are also part of the concept of destroying the efforts of the government. Once the first doses are available and all the promises regarding the supply of the vaccine have been fulfilled, we can count on the epidemic to be controlled within six months. They say that such predictions are optimistic, but I am an optimist, stressed Janša. Germany has announced a four-month period when certain measures will still apply, he explained, adding that we are not there yet, as the second wave must be overcome first. If we do not stick to the measures, the third wave will come, even if the vaccine will already be on its way. “It has to be said that most of the people are taking action and are taking the epidemic seriously. They want everyone to do that. But if one in ten ignores the measures, if Štrukelj is a hero because he takes his mask off, if Jani Möderdorfer is considered to be cool when he comes to the National Assembly with plastic, and then another ten percent of the population follow them, all efforts are in vain. That’s 200,000 people, ten percent of the population. The second wave can last for half a year, and in this case, it can only be cut short by a large number of people getting vaccinated,” said the Prime Minister Janez Janša.