This week’s guest on the show Intervju (Interview) on RTV Slovenija, hosted by Jože Možina, was Urška Bačovnik Janša. This was one of her first longer media interviews. During their talk, they touched on the topics of her childhood, her decision to study journalism and medicine, and her joy for the medical profession. Urška also talked about the dark times for her family and revealed what gave her strength and made surviving those times easier. At the same time, she pointed out that the media do not know her husband as well as she does.
Urška Bačovnik Janša comes from a farm in the small village of Šentilj pri Velenju. She remembers her childhood as relaxed and happy because life in the village gave her freedom. Her father was a miner, and her mother stayed at home, taking care of the farm and the children. As an elementary school student, she was a rebel, always fighting for what was right. Often, she came into conflict with others while fighting for justice. She later calmed down and enrolled in a high school, even though her parents wanted her to go to the vocational school, but she persisted nonetheless, as she wanted to follow her dreams.
Urška says she always wanted to become a doctor because she always enjoyed learning about the natural sciences and was good at it. After the matura exam, she could not enrol in medicine, as she missed the enrolment limitation by 0,1 percent, so she decided to go study journalism. Finding that journalism did not suit her, she decided to resit her matura exam in autumn and dropped out of the journalism course after two months. She worked at a petrol station for a while and then got the chance to become a babysitter for a family in London. Her memories of the time she spent there are happy, and to this day, she still keeps in touch with the family. The story of the family touched her, as the mother of the two girls she cared for had died of cancer just three months before her arrival.
Others describe Urška as a sensitive person who loves what she does, and, as she adds, she is also very sensitive, because all stories touch her, which is not uncommon in her profession, where bad news is more common than good news. The suffering of others touches her, which she sees as a big emotional burden. She adores her profession: she started out as a doctor of family medicine, but later, she was drawn to the hospital, where she has been working on her fellowship in internal medicine for the last six years.
On the show, Mrs. Bačovnik Janša also touched on the broader issue of the situation in health care, which is facing a shortage of doctors and nurses. When her husband Janez Janša took over the government, she was aware that a very difficult period was coming and that the whole family was going to be put under a lot of pressure once more. She emphasized that she does not follow politics herself, as this upsets her. She remembers the day when the government was sworn in very well, as that day, they were saving the life a boy from Šmarje pri Jelšah, who had a heart attack. By that time, the outbreak of the infection already happened there. According to Urška Bačovnik Janša, everyone in the department was very careful while waiting for the results of the test for the infection. Fortunately, the patient was not infected, but she pointed out that no protective equipment was available at the time.
Proud of her medical colleagues
In the conversation, the wife of the Slovenian Prime Minister also spoke about the situation that followed the outbreak of the epidemic, when her medical colleagues were begging her to help because they only had enough protective equipment for three days. She then explained her communication in connection with the procurement of protective equipment. She said that she does not regret anything and would do the same thing again, because she was aware of the distress of the medical staff at the outbreak of the epidemic, when, for example, the Celje general hospital only had enough protective equipment for three days. She is proud of her fellow doctors and nurses, as well as of the work of those who cared for the residents of the nursing homes. She described the rumour surrounding the filing forms as slander, because doctors know very well who they can help, and who can no longer be helped. She also pointed out that during the time of the coronavirus epidemic, doctors paid daily visits to nursing homes, while in normal times, this only happens twice a week.
Bačovnik Janša then answered the journalist’s question about how she coped with the organized slander of her family that has been going on in the past years, when her husband’s political opponents even spread malicious rumours about her children. She said that she might even be responsible for this in a way, because she did not want to expose her children to the public, which is why the journalists began with their slandering.
“We had to endure the dark times stoically”
She highlighted her husband’s going to prison and the related trials and tribulations as a dark period for her family. Bačovnik Janša said that a great injustice had happened to Janez Janša and their entire family at the time. She is sorry that the public does not know her husband as he really is, because of the media persecution. The image of him which the media shows, is completely distorted, Bačovnik Janša said. If anyone wants to get to know him well, they should read his novel “Noriško kraljestvo,” which he wrote while he was in prison at Dob. During this time, the time she spent with her children and the support from her friends and family meant the most to her. She said that it was the Prime Minister, who most stoically endured the whole situation, as he constantly worked in prison, mowing the grass and writing a book. It was difficult for her, since she was only able to visit him with their children twice a week, and even to this day, she does not like driving to that part of Slovenia, because she perceives the place as extremely negative.
Bačovnik Janša also commented on her husband’s activity on social media, which she said she does not always like, but at the same time, she believes he is doing what he believes is right. Nonetheless, she does not allow the use of a telephone at the table when they are at home together. She wants more tolerance and honesty for the Slovenian nation. She believes we have achieved a lot already as a nation and a country, and she is optimistic about the future.