By: Sara Rančigaj / Nova24tv
The National Assembly approved the government’s decision on the inadmissibility of a referendum on the law ratifying the agreement with the Organisation for Joint Armaments Cooperation (OCCAR) on the Boxer programme. Of the 77 MPs present, 43 voted in favour and 30 against. “The crisis in Ukraine and the aggravated situation in the Balkans clearly show that security is not self-evident. The demands for the dismantling of the Slovenian army are therefore simply impossible. However, they are expected from a party that tried to prevent a rise in salaries for all people with a referendum,” said Defence Minister Matej Tonin at a session of the National Assembly. NSi MP Andrej Černigoj also pointed out that the proponents themselves know that the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia does not allow such a referendum. “However, it is convenient for the Levica party to legally collect personal data from citizens, which they will be able to use later in the election campaign,” he added.
The Levica party wanted a referendum to thwart the government’s plans to buy eight-wheeled boxer-type tank. The government plans to purchase 45 vehicles. STA states that in the last five years, the price has risen from the initial demand from the then 207 million euros for 56 armoured vehicles to 412 million euros for 53 vehicles. Not so long ago, the Minister of Defence Matej Tonin pointed out that the prices are not yet known, but they will be lower due to the agreement with the Organisation for Cooperation in Joint Armaments (OCCAR).
On behalf of the government, which proposed a resolution on the inadmissibility of the referendum, Tonin emphasised in the debate before the vote that the constitution stipulates that a referendum cannot be called on laws ratifying international treaties. According to him, the law on ratification of the agreement between the government and OCCAR is an international treaty. “The proposed initiative of the Levica is a blatant abuse of the institute of referendum, which seeks to prevent the modernisation of the Slovenian Army,” the Minister added.
Among other things, Tonin pointed out that the current situation in Ukraine reminds us of the importance of security and strongly rejected the request to dismantle the Slovenian army. “The crisis in Ukraine and the aggravated situation in the Balkans clearly show that security is not self-evident. The demands for the dismantling of the Slovenian army are therefore simply impossible. However, they are expected from a party that tried to prevent a rise in wages for all people with a referendum,” he was critical.
Levica is constantly trying to dismantle the Slovenian army
On the other hand, NSi MP Jožef Horvat said that this was a “school example of an international agreement”. “Constant attempts to dismantle the Slovenian Army by the referendum proponents, that is, by the Levica, are practically bordering on national betrayal,” he emphasised. He rejected the accusations of the Levica that the government invests in the army instead of in health care and education. Even Jani Ivanuša from the SNS called these accusations untrue. He said that the facts were that Slovenia is a member of NATO and that Article 90 of the Constitution stipulated that a referendum could not be called on ratifications of international treaties.
In Nova Slovenija, they want a safe and prepared Slovenia, so they believe that we need a well-armed Slovenian army. “Nova Slovenija is restoring dignity to the Slovenian Army. I believe that considering all the achievements of the current government and Defence Minister Matej Tonin, no one in this hall or outside can deny it,” said NSi MP Andrej Černigoj, adding that the proponents themselves know that the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia does not allow such a referendum. “However, it is convenient for the Levica to legally collect personal data from citizens, which they will be able to use later in the election campaign,” he added.
Levica chose an inappropriate moment to procrastinate
SDS MP Branko Grims emphasised that education, social services, and health care without security do not mean much. He pointed out that all key decisions regarding the armament of Slovenia were made during the time of the left-wing governments. “Now that the government of Janez Janša is facing the fact, this is being hindered and sabotaged,” said a member of the ruling party. Monika Gregorčič from the Konkretno parliamentary group also accused Levica of procrastination. “There is no doubt that the Levica party’s intention is only to procrastinate without hope of ultimate success, but they have chosen an extremely inappropriate security strategic moment when not only the European, but the entire world public is anxiously watching Ukraine,” she said.
Levica MP Matej T. Vatovec, on the other hand, said that “this is not an international agreement with which Slovenia would join a serious international organisation, but is essentially a consortium of countries that will buy these armoured vehicles”. “So, this argument that the referendum is inadmissible because it is an international treaty is out of the question,” he said.
SAB MP Branislav Rajić also emphasised that the agreement between the government and OCCAR was not the most typical example of an international agreement. “The agreement is a deal and not just any deal, it is the largest arms deal in the history of Slovenia,” said Rajić, who announced that SAB MPs would not support the draft decision. Nik Prebil from LMŠ pointed out similarly. “This agreement is certainly not about ratification of an international treaty, so the attempt to ban the referendum initiative again represents your abuse of power and malicious use of the normative basis,” he said.