Prime Minister Janez Janša on Nova24TV: The measures are largely not being followed due to the influencers who mock the professionals’ instructions

Foto: Nova24TV

“All these numbers, both the number of infected persons per day, as well as the number of those in hospitals, could be halved if the implemented measures were actually being followed. However, they are largely being ignored, precisely because of these so-called influencers, because the people who follow them behave similarly. They are mocking the instructions of the profession, and so the infections are spreading. It is probably not a coincidence that in Ljubljana, where 12 percent of the Slovenian population live, up to a quarter of all daily infections in Slovenia have recently been recorded on individual days,” the Prime Minister was critical, adding that the situation in the capital is significantly worse than it was spring.

While the number of infections with the novel coronavirus is growing, society is operating relatively smoothly, unlike during the first wave of infections. Nevertheless, the opposition is accusing the government of organizing the flypast of the fighter jets as a celebration of the victory over the epidemic, but now, they claim, the government is not prepared for the second wave of infections. “If we weren’t prepared, then show A Conversation with the Prime Minister would not have been happening, because we would be somewhere else,” the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša said.

As far as data is concerned, it is not just data on the number of new infections per day that is important. According to the Prime Minister, the number of people who need hospital care and the number of those in intensive care units are the most important ones. “Currently, these numbers are better than the numbers we had in the spring. And that is precisely why there is no need for such drastic measures yet. Despite the higher number of daily infections, the consequences of these infections are much less significant. The impact on the health system and other social subsystems is crucial. The situation is currently still manageable.”

The figures would be lower by at least half, if the people complied with the ordered measures
The Social Democrats, who launched a campaign a week ago, entitled “No to masks in schools!” are the loudest critics, saying that the government is not doing enough to control the number of infections. Branimir Štrukelj, a trade unionist, has also joined in on the criticism, claiming that masks cannot be used for those who work in schools. Moreover, the representatives of the unions left the session of the Economic and Social Council after only four-fifths of the proposed law had been agreed-upon. The media also condemned the holy mass in Brezje but did not condemn the anti-government protests, where Marjan Šarec, Jerca Korče, Tanja Fajon, and other leftists from the SD and LMŠ parties gathered without masks. According to Janša, the double standards of the media and the political opposition are detrimental to the process of fighting the infections.

“All these numbers, both the number of infected persons per day, as well as the number of those in hospitals, could be halved if the implemented measures were actually being followed. However, they are largely being ignored, precisely because of these so-called influencers, because the people who follow them behave similarly. They are mocking the instructions of the profession, and so the infections are spreading. It is probably not a coincidence that in Ljubljana, where 12 percent of the Slovenian population live, up to a quarter of all daily infections in Slovenia have recently been recorded on individual days,” the Prime Minister was critical, adding that the situation in the capital is significantly worse than it was spring.

“It’s not as much about the direct outdoor gatherings,” Janša pointed out, although these also one of the important “hotbeds” for infection with the coronavirus. However, socializing is even more problematic, as after the outdoor gatherings, smaller groups of people usually have a drink or two, and they sit closer together. “Alcohol ignites passions. They scream, they sing. This is dangerous. If they don’t treat it the same as some minister not wearing a mask, then that’s a big problem. We will continue walking in circles, and we will not get rid of the virus. One possibility is the adoption of more drastic measures, but these have severe consequences on the economy, and there are not a lot of reserves left for the mitigation of the effects of a possible lockdown,” Janša emphasized.

The Olympic Committee of Slovenia’s event was not in accordance with the instructions of the National Institute of Public Health
Janša does not want to defend anyone who does not adhere to the measures, not even if they are on the government side. The case involving Minister Kustec is a manifestation of double standards, namely, other people who were not wearing masks were not scolded at all, while the minister was heavily criticized, even though she inquired about the wearing of masks before the event – she asked why no one has them, and she was also one of only two people who wore a mask on the award stage. “The mainstream media condemns the one person who followed the rules the most, the hardest. Most of the responsibility is certainly on the organizer because it was clear what the rules were. It is not true that the event was organized in accordance with the instructions of the National Institute of Public Health because the instructions were different from what we saw.” According to Janša, the organizer did not ask about the food at all. “Since it is clear that you cannot wear a mask while eating dinner, the government has strongly advised against organizing banquets and serving meals at public events. Where this is necessary due to the length of a particular event and so on, it is necessary to organize the distribution of food in the same way as when you order food remotely from a restaurant. It is known how this can be done. The instructions are written following that.”

In the conversation, Janša also touched on the fifth anti-corona legislative package and emphasized that practically all measures in it were based on the proposals from chambers and various organizations or stakeholders who are still being affected by the consequences of the coronavirus. “There is less of that now than in the spring. Thank God, there are some reserves left. We can still take this on, as we planned for these reserves in the supplementary budget – so there is enough for the funds that are included in the fifth package. The big question, however, is how we will get through next year if the vaccine is not available by then. That is the key problem,” he was clear, noting that we have two issues ahead of us today. “The first refers to the colder season, which we don’t know about, in relation to the coronavirus. Because in the spring, when the epidemic started, the warmer period also started at the same time. However, now we have the second wave, and the colder period is starting. These days, intensive work is underway to coordinate potential action plans. If hospital beds continue to fill at the rate they are now, then we will soon be in the red zone, and it will be necessary to re-declare the epidemic and take appropriate action we are already familiar with. That will come at a price.”

Janša said that the European Commission had made certain recommendations regarding the closure of borders and the restriction of the flow of people during the second wave. “These recommendations are relatively good. I believe that most European countries will stick to this by having uniform criteria and not using different colours in different measures. This is also what we have been doing thus far when there were no uniform measurement recommendations. Now there is no excuse on our side. It all depends on how seriously we take this second wave,” he believes. Janša admitted that wearing masks is not pleasant, not in the studio, not in meetings, but according to him, this is a small sacrifice compared to what would have to be done if the health care system was overloaded, if too many people died, because other services would also not be available if very harsh measures would need to be introduced, and the economy would have to pay the price for it again. “I hope that the cold weather in Slovenia will sober us up and that we will not listen to conversations about whether certain measures are necessary or not. Especially if, on the other hand, we see that the whole world accepts them and that the professionals mostly agree with them, except for a few special ones who deny the existence of the virus anyway and claim that the earth is flat.”

In this situation, it is necessary to use all medical capacities
According to Janša, the fifth anti-corona package envisages rewarding and fair payment for those who will be transferred elsewhere, especially in health care and nursing, due to the virus itself, or who will work with COVID-19 patients directly. “This is now clearly defined,” Janša pointed out, adding that there would be fewer side effects than what witnessed in the spring, when certain people in some institutions, most notably RTV Slovenia, received large sums at the expense of the epidemic, although they certainly did not deserve them. Considering that the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia will be able to finance healthcare services that will shorten the waiting times for doctors’ visits, which includes financing certain private practices, it is not surprising that the left got all riled up. “The main point is to use all the available capacities in this situation, which is extremely aggravated due to the coronavirus. I believe that a person who needs medical care simply wants to get that care, first and foremost. Whether he gets it from Franc or Jože or in this or another institution is completely irrelevant for someone who urgently needs something; otherwise he will become seriously ill or die. Looking at it from this point of view, we can clearly see that it is necessary to engage all available capacities. And that is precisely the reason why the fifth package, at the suggestion of the Ministry of Health, includes the possibility of a national public tender, on the basis of which we will put together all medical capacities that exist so that this situation does not further prolong the waiting times and endanger the health of thousands,” said Janša.

It is the core Europe that is still committed to the EU’s survival
Regarding the opposition’s allegations that no one from the core Europe countries was present at the Bled Strategic Forum, Janša emphasized that those from the so-called core Europe also took part. “I do not know what core Europe is today. Today, core Europe is not what the six founding members were when the European Union was created. Thinking that means living in the past,” Janša was clear. “Core Europe today are the countries that  advocate for the European Union to continue to exist, based on some real facts. They are the people and the countries that are aware of the fact that there is no Europe without Europeans. The Prime Minister of Italy also took part in the forum. I think Italy is a founding member of the European Union. Well-known ministers from many other countries, not only from Central Europe, as well as many high-ranking representatives of administrations, also took part,” he said, adding that those who were looking for a Central European conspiracy here could only present it as such to people by lying about to whoever was there. “As far as Central Europe or the Visegrad Four are concerned, today, given the real situation, in many ways this is what we can call a core Europe. If anyone thinks that core Europe is in Molenbeek in the middle of Brussels, they should go there, and they can find out if what is there is Europe or something else.”

“The main goal of Slovenian foreign policy is for Slovenia to have the best possible relations with as many countries as possible, and that the state benefits as much as possible from these relations, that we are safer and can provide a better future for future generations and within that, if possible, we have the best possible relations with our neighbours, ”Janša emphasized, explaining that a neighbour is the first to come to the rescue when it really comes down to it. “This is the main purpose of foreign policy, not to quarrel and look for external enemies. There is nothing to gain from such a policy, except harm,” Janša warned and emphasized that foreign policy is a tool for realizing the national interests. “Every dispute, every created enemy, is a step backwards.”

The rule of law ends as soon as there is a vote on it
According to Janša, the European Union is based on the rule of law. No country can be a Member State of the European Union if it does not recognize this foundation. “I do not know of any Member State that would give up that foundation. This was also unequivocally noted at the July European Council. However, for someone to try to squeeze their own view of how certain marginal groups should be privileged into the notion of the rule of law, for them to try and fit double standards of tolerating political prisoners in one EU member state and opposing the logical changes or reforms in the judiciary in another, that is something that will not be accepted. The European Council will never agree to such double standards,” he was clear. In the European Parliament, a different majority can be created on the basis of political calculations or trade, but the rule of law ends the moment when it is politically voted on, Janša emphasized. The European Parliament is a political formation of different political groups, and if they will vote to determine what the rule of law is in one Member State and what it is in another, that is, at most, a path to the disintegration of the European Union. What is happening there is at odds with reality and merely the happening in the Brussels bubble.

The retired generation that created the wealth should also benefit from it
Regarding the demographic fund, Janša pointed out that it will be created with the intention to grow. “There will be more money in the fund every year. Part of what will be accumulated each year from interest or sales will be used to strengthen the pension fund, the long-term care fund, the fund for the construction of nursing homes, and family policy measures. These are the principles that are already contained in the starting point of the law,” Janša pointed out, emphasizing that the fund will have to at least achieve the results that are expected from it; otherwise, the managers will be replaced. “We want to ensure that at least some of the wealth that the now-retired generation created will also be enjoyed by that generation.”

Nina Žoher