Collapse on international stage: Slovenia is alone and irrelevant

Foto: STA

Private interests of members of the deep state and personal political preferences of leading left-wing politicians have all but destroyed Slovenia’s reputation in the international community. Almost nothing remains of the pro-European, western-oriented Slovenian foreign policy. Analysing the legacy of recent years, we can conclude that in Europe Slovenia is alone, irrelevant and far from decision-making positions.

During the election campaign, most members of the media completely ignored one of the most important topics, i.e. Slovenia’s international policy. In recent years, this policy has changed substantially. Even though the first lady is originally from Slovenia, relations with the United States are virtually non-existent and considered completely unimportant by Slovenian left-wing parties. What message did Slovenia sent to its western allies when, for example, Slovenian foreign minister Karl Erjavec visited Russia more than twenty times but failed to travel to the US even once in his long career?

Private business deals of Forum 21 members are above Slovenian interests
Of course, the distancing of Slovenia from its key allies was never an officially adopted foreign policy strategy – it was not discussed in parliament, critically evaluated or put to a vote. In practice, the anti-western policy was carried out in a series of actions by key representatives of ruling parties who did not advance the strategic interests of the country on the international stage but rather promoted their business friends, e.g. Janez Škrabec, the owner of Riko and a founding member of Forum 21. The Riko company is known for being firmly embedded in the Russian and Belarusian markets, but also for its successful acquisition of millions of euro in state subsidies and grants from the Slovenian state. Škrabec has also been mentioned in connection with the criminal background of his dealings in the former Soviet bloc. The depth of the political-business links of the Slovenian left with eastern groups was also indicated by Karl Erjavec’s lobbying in 2012, when he came to help the Belarus businessman Jurij Čiž, who is closely linked to the regime of the Belarus president, Lukashenko. There were also the extensive delegations in Iran, where Ultra (co-owned by Gregor Golobič) and Iskratel (led by Željko Puljić, an influential supporter of the DeSUS party) looked for opportunities.

Slovenia – destination for money laundering with corrupt and dysfunctional institutions
What left-wing coalitions have turned Slovenia into was also shown by events that would be inconceivable in normal countries – $1 billion had travelled from Iran through the NLB bank to more than 9,000 suspicious addresses. It is well-known that the Slovenian police, the Office for Money Laundering Prevention and the Bank of Slovenia were all informed about the transactions from 2009 and 2010, but nobody took action. At the time, the Office for Money Laundering Prevention even gave NLB employees permission to carry out these transactions. The matter involved transactions with Iran, which was under an international embargo. The story only started to be revealed after foreign banks protested and blocked their cooperation with NLB. The silence and coordination of Slovenian regulators show that the Iranian citizen Iraj Farrokhzadeh, who carried out the transactions, found the best possible destination among all the countries and banks in the world. The reputation of an insignificant country with a corrupt ruling structure in which regulatory institutions do not function.

Comparing independent Slovenia with Palestine
The latest example of how far Slovenia has sunk was the pressure for Slovenia to recognise Palestine, which was ideologically a very important foreign policy project for the far left. When gathering public support, the regime media stressed that the ruling Slovenian politicians were not concerned about potential economic pressures from Israel, since the trading of goods was not extensive, and possible actions from the US were also considered of no importance. The strange criteria of left-wing parties for assessing international relations is shown by their justification for recognising Palestine, which would supposedly be “key in resolving the crisis in the Middle East” and “increase the safety and stability in Palestine and Israel”. The pressure in the Slovenian parliament to simply recognise Palestine at an extraordinary session was mitigated somewhat by the visit of an Israeli ambassador who explained to Slovenian leftists the difference between the Slovenian and Palestine fight for independence. When Slovenia fought for its independence, it did not shelter Fatah, Hamas and other Islamic militias linked to ISIS. According to most EU member states, the recognition of Palestine, if it ever happens, will be carried out in conjunction with the peace process. But this position did not stop Slovenian foreign minister Karl Erjavec from meeting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abass in January of this year and promising that Slovenia would complete the procedure for the recognition of Palestine in March or April. This never happened due to the strong opposition of Janez Janša and the Slovenian Democratic Party as well as the disunity in the ruling coalition.

Blocking of US investments that would endanger deep state in media
The anti-western sentiments are not limited to foreign policy but are also evident in the prevention of certain US investments. It is well-known that the television channels POP TV and Kanal A have been waiting for a new owner for some time – in July of last year, the business alliance of the US fund KKR and Serbian businessman Dragan Šolak signed an agreement for the purchase of the largest Slovenian commercial television company, which is owned by Central Media Enterprises (CME). The new owner has still not received approval from the Slovenian Competition Protection Agency (a government body led by Andrej Matvoz) even though they have been waiting for more than 400 days. Opponents of the sale of POP TV refer to the Media Act, which establishes the incompatibility of telecommunications and television activities, but never question the link between the state-owned Telekom and its media branches Siol.net and Planet TV. They are employing these manoeuvres to chase away a new US investor that is not politically in line with the Slovenian deep state, i.e. the far left, and that could influence the normalisation and balance of media content. Why are there some many obstacles for the sale of POP TV and so much resistance against a change in ownership? The problem is that a different owner would also mean a different management of POP TV. This could definitely jeopardise the existing editorial policy, which is politically biased and completely unprofessional.

Andrej Žitnik