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Prime Minister Janez Janša on Nova24TV: The recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health on the coronavirus still need to be followed

  • Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)

Prime Minister Janez Janša was a guest on A Talk with the Prime Minister broadcast on Nova24TV, where he talked about a potential second wave of the epidemic, international events, including the presidency of the Council of the EU, the upcoming Slovenian Statehood Day and other topical issues the viewers asked about.

Prime Minister Janez Janša was a guest on the programme A Talk with the Prime Minister on Nova24TV.

Prime Minister Janez Janša was a guest on the programme A Talk with the Prime Minister on Nova24TV. | Author Kabinet predsednika vlade

After the situation in Slovenia began to ease and we won the first battle against the coronavirus in all respects, the number of infections has again started to increase in the past few weeks. "Regarding the risk of the second wave, even a few tens of individuals can seriously endanger the health of two million Slovenian citizens. It needs to be emphasised once again that all the instructions of the National Institute of Public Health still apply. The end of the epidemic has been declared because the number of new infections is contained within manageable limits. But things can turn around very quickly in a matter of only a few days," said the Prime Minister and added that a second wave is inevitable with the easing of certain measures, particularly with opening the borders and dubious numbers and statistics in some countries. "A second wave that is even worse than the first one is currently raging in North Macedonia. According to the numbers we received today, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo are approaching a similar situation. Croatia is not there yet, despite certain outbreaks that have been successfully limited so far. Slovenia is certainly not there yet either, but recent numbers are higher than the ones in the last three weeks and the majority of those cases have been imported from those countries, with which we have now restricted border crossing," said the Prime Minister and added that it is still necessary to maintain a safe distance, respect hand-washing and cough etiquette and wear protective masks in enclosed spaces where maintaining a safe distance is not possible. "We need to keep in mind that the existing measures can prevent a transition into the red during a second wave, but only if we adhere to them. If the measure allowing the gathering of up to 500 people provided that all the restrictions are being respected remains only written on paper, while the police reports that a few thousand people protested in Ljubljana, it means that the number was five to six times higher and so was the risk," pointed out the Prime Minister and continued: "We don't know how many people that participated in these last protests in Ljubljana, where there was little distance, very few masks and a lot of shouting and favourable conditions for the virus to spread, visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, North Macedonia or another epicentre beforehand. Only ten in a few thousand could be enough to cause a great problem in Ljubljana and consequently also in Slovenia. The situation will become clear at the end of this week or the beginning of the next one," added Mr Janez Janša.

He also pointed out that by respecting the limitations and measures we are not only protecting our own health and life but also the lives of others. "Younger people sometimes treat this danger rather carelessly, thinking they will be fine even if they get infected. This isn't true. Even young people have died due to the coronavirus. The numbers are indeed relatively low, but we need to act responsibly towards our fellow citizens, relatives, grandparents, people in homes for the elderly, sick people, people in hospitals. They are usually the first victims of the most severe consequences and carelessness, even of a small part of the population, is currently the biggest threat and the biggest risk," stressed the Prime Minister and pointed out that the three biggest risks that pose a threat for the spread of the virus are parties, football matches and rallies.

Prime Minister went on to talk about the proposal of the European Commission on the recovery after the coronavirus epidemic. "The initial proposal of the European Commission has met our expectations to a large extent. If it stays in the predicted limits, Slovenia will be satisfied. We are among the countries that are without major complaints," said the Prime Minister and added that the final agreement regarding the financial resources that the European Commission will allocate to the states in one form or another will be known after 20 July. According to him, it is in the interest of all the states to adopt the agreement as soon as possible. "We are talking about substantial resources and each additional week available for preparation after it is clear which resources will be available and what the conditions will be is actually worth billions. With too little time at our disposal, a lot of those resources will remain unexploited," said Mr Janša and added that Slovenia will participate in bilateral negotiations with the president of the European Council as early as the beginning of July. According to the Prime Minister, those resources are a great opportunity for Slovenia to "simultaneously adopt all the necessary health care reforms that have been on hold, waiting for 15 years, including the construction of a few nursing hospitals, at least two clinics for infectious diseases and many other necessities".

On issues related to the EU Council Presidency, the Prime Minister said that Slovenia easily added two important topical priorities to the trio’s programme, namely cyber security and the European Union’s strategic plan for responding to epidemics. "We very quickly coordinated that the European Commission approved this after one discussion with the President of the European Commission, which shows that Slovenia holds weight in this regard. In addition, everybody remembers that Slovenia already held the EU Council Presidency and that its work was successful," said Prime Minister Janša.

On questions raised about Statehood Day, Prime Minister Janez Janša responded that the vast majority of people in Slovenia celebrate Statehood Day in a very dignified manner. "I think Slovenians have internalised this holiday, seeing as we, finally as a nation, voted very uniformly in the plebiscite for what this holiday represents. At the time, there were political differences and divisions that still exist in politics today, but there are significantly fewer such divisions among the people," said the Prime Minister and added that politics has a widespread effect and that "unfortunately, we will now have an anti-celebration alongside the state celebration". "If those who are cycling and protesting against the Government on Fridays would organise their own celebrations in their own way, with their own cultural programme, expressing themselves in their own way under a common banner, under the Slovenian flag, they are welcome to do so. We do not agree with these ideas, but we celebrate together what is actually a shared concept in every country. But no, they are going to organise an anti-celebration. On Friday, thousands of leaflets were distributed, inviting people to attend the so-called anti-celebration that is expected to interfere with the state celebration. This is disgraceful and despicable, in fact it is so despicable that it is beyond anything we would categorise as normal or civilised, and I hope that the organisers will change their minds by Wednesday," stressed the Prime Minister. He also pointed out that the competent authorities should stop pretending that there is no official organiser of the protests and that nothing is happening, and that they should take action in accordance with the law.

When asked by a citizen why no firm action is being taken against Antifa, Prime Minister Janša said that serious considerations are in order with regard to formally declaring this group an extremist, or even terrorist, organisation. "The first act of violence they will commit will get a response in this sense, at least I will do everything possible to make that happen. However, I believe this also warrants an international response. Of course, those who are preaching about tolerance and cooperation and who are setting up internet police are now suddenly strongly defending this extremist organisation that openly threatens with violence and advocates a violent change of our way of life," added Prime Minister Janez Janša.

When asked by a citizen about the biased reporting of the media, Prime Minister Janez Janša replied that "if everyone, regardless of the media they follow in Slovenia, could be informed about things, I will not say objectively, but as they really are, then Slovenia would flourish. They would be able to tell the difference between what is good and what is bad. As it stands, however, the things that are important tend to be left out or presented in a different light. Various scandals are often artificially created and this poisons the public climate in Slovenia and prevents us from actually focusing our efforts on achieving our plebiscite dream. It is some sort of disorder that is going to break down in the future because building on lies is much the same as building a house on sandy ground. Although so far, the loudspeakers are going strong. People for whom Slovenia was not an intimate option are still very politically active, even if they should have retired some sixteen years ago, and this is what prevents us from taking in life with our full lungs."

In response to a question about whether the coalition would last until the end of its term, the Prime Minister said, "We are working to ensure it does because there is much that needs to be done. It is a coalition of different parties, where a great deal of coordination and respect of differences is required, and this calls for additional effort which the leadership of the coalition parties, for the time being, invests enough." "The easiest way to guarantee that the coalition lasts would be to do nothing. If you do not do anything, then you cannot make mistakes, and perhaps the fact that some things have not been accomplished is overlooked," said the Prime Minister and added, "If we had the support of POP TV and RTV Slovenia, like Marjan Šarec did, we could do nothing and the coalition would last until the end, but this is not what we have planned and we are going against the flow, at least as far as these mainstream media are concerned." The Prime Minister also said that this coalition puts the common interests of the state before the interests of individual parties, "which is what allowed us to overcome the epidemic with minimal loss and without suffering too much damage, if we draw a comparison between what happened here and what occurred in many other European countries".

Regarding illegal migration, the Prime Minister said that the information received in recent days from Bosnia, where the number of illegal migrants in their centres is increasing and the number of infections is increasing as well, is of great concern to us. "The Slovenian police are doing everything in their power. There are some reserve resources in the form of the Slovenian Army, but we cannot grant the necessary powers to them because a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly is required for that, and indeed, except for the Slovenian National Party, none of the other opposition parties wants to grant this measure foreseen by the Defence Act. This is in fact causing damage because it implies an incomprehensible anti-Slovenian behaviour on the part of the left opposition, and as a result, the border is not as closed as it could have been," Prime Minister Janša is convinced. The Prime Minister also pointed out that "we have the Slovenian Army which has certain capacities, not very large but additional capacities, which, however, they do not allow us to use for whimsical reasons. In short, it is an irrational act that is ideologically motivated, and twice so – first of all, by the fact that those for whom independent Slovenia was not an intimate option cannot tolerate the Slovenian Army, because the Slovenian Army in fact made Slovenia's independence possible. The second motive is the desire to import as many new voters as possible and to strengthen in this way the electoral base of left-wing parties, which do not ground their programmes on the Slovenian way of life and on our values, but on a kind of multiculturalism, which ultimately deteriorates into the demolition of monuments across the West, the monuments that in fact stand for the fundamental values of European civilization."

When asked by a viewer about the pensions received by some Yugoslav officers, the Prime Minister said that "when Slovenia was defended upon the proclamation of its independence and the aggression of the Yugoslav army that immediately followed, it was also defended by some who had found their home here but were not of Slovenian descent, and if they enjoy certain veteran benefits for that, they have earned them to the same extent as anyone who is Slovenian by descent and had been in the same situation. However, there are some Yugoslav army officers who left the country with this army when it was defeated, and then declared themselves erased or found some other way, and many of them, in the days of left-wing governments, were granted a certain status and pensions under various agreements with the states that emerged on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. In fact, there are some cases where these people have been receiving fat pensions without having ever paid anything into the Slovenian pension system, nor did they defend this country but attacked it instead, or at least did nothing to defend it, and who, for political or ideological reasons, were granted such status when those crying for Yugoslavia were in power. On the other hand, there are people who worked for 40 years and paid contributions into the Slovenian pension fund and have lower pensions. This is an injustice and when we start amending the pension system, the first thing to do will be that everything that does not belong in the pension fund, that is, all the payments not based on paid-in contributions, will be either transferred elsewhere, if justified, i.e. to other departments or other items, or they will be cancelled if unjustified, which will significantly contribute to the stability of the pension system".

Regarding certain injustices within the social system, the Prime Minister said that the social network is indeed rich and luxurious but often abused. "That is to say, one may obtain these benefits and transfers in a number of different ways even though they are not eligible to receive them. Another problem are the things that are justified by law and regulations, but are unfairly regulated in some instances," said the Prime Minister. "In other words, this concerns the needs that far exceed the possibilities, or the cases where funds are paid to people who have never contributed anything to Slovenia's welfare, which is all at the expense of those who contributed a lot but now receive small pensions or low transfers, and the answer to the question about whether we are going to do anything about this is that we are. It is written in the coalition agreement, so there will be a reform and a simplification of social transfers or the social network, the social system," said the Prime Minister, adding that many words are expected to be uttered in defence of the privileges that are hiding here, and maybe there will be some more cyclists on Fridays or some other days of their choice, but that won’t stop the Government. "It is a great injustice that people who had been paying taxes in Slovenia for decades, who had been paying for health care, into the pension fund, gave birth to and raised children who are now paying taxes, are surviving today on a meagre livelihood or receiving smaller benefits from the sources which they co-created than someone who has come across the Kolpa river, declared themselves under threat even though there is no war in their country, and claimed all the benefits that the Slovenian system still formally provides for. This is an injustice," stressed Mr Janez Janša.

Interviews with the Prime Minister on Nova24TV will continue in the autumn.