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Interview for the POP TV programme "24 Hours"

Ljubljana, 06/24/2007  |  interview

This interview with Dr Janez Drnovšek, President of the Republic of Slovenia, for the POP TV programme "24 Hours" was conducted by journalist Katja Šeruga.

Broadcast: 24 June 2007 at 19.00

TV announcer: And now, here is our exclusive interview with the President of the Republic, Janez Drnovšek, who with his decision to boycott the National Statehood Day ceremony raised a lot of dust. As he put it himself, this was to warn of the bad and "unrelaxed" situation in the country. Katja Šeruga.

Šeruga: In view of the fact that this day represents a rather important event in Slovenia's history, i.e. the declaration of its independence, this decision seems to be a rather harsh one, don't you think?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: This is true. And the decision was not an easy one. However, it seems to me that it would be inappropriate for me to attend this ceremony as just a mere "statistic", as yet another person helping to give the impression that everything is good and fine, and having to listen to more rhetorical panegyrics. All is not fine, the situation is not good, and it seems appropriate to me to send a warning signal this way.

Šeruga: Can you be a little bit more concrete… what is so very bad and "unrelaxed", so to speak?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: It seems that Slovenia is rather unrelaxed at the present moment. I have already talked about it on several occasions; there is pressure on people working in the public sector and within its institutions to favour the partisanship of a specific political option or a certain person, rather than knowledge and expertise. For this reason, the quality of work of many institutions has been lost and people dare not speak critically – many of them preferred to quit or just lost their jobs. There has been certain pressure on the media, in particular the main ones, not to show things objectively but rather in the light of someone's desires. All these facts point to some sort of totalitarian recidivism.

Šeruga: But, on the other hand, within the ranks of Government there is a conviction that the State today is essentially more relaxed than ever before; regarding the media, and to cite an example, journalists were being arrested in the eighties, which today no longer seems to be the case. And moreover, there seem to be no reasons for fear or precariousness as the country keeps achieving economic results that it has never had in its history.

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Well, in the eighties, politicians used to say that everything was just fine and beyond comparison, and they do it the same way today. This is characteristic of regimes that praise everything they do and are immune to any self-critique. As far as the economic results are concerned, yes, it is true that they are good but there are two reasons for this: the overall economic situation, i.e. favourable circumstances, and good foundations from the past. Economic policy is practically non-existent today.

Šeruga: Mr President, some days ago in Celje you said that certain changes in the political arena were sure to occur and that things would change and be different from what they are now. What are you predicting by these words? Is it that people, owing to a bad situation, as you put it, would want to change the power structure in the coming elections or, is it that you actually hint at some active role of your own in politics for the future?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I do not intend either of the two: what I wish to say is that such a situation should not last long and that it cannot last much longer, that in a man's and a country's life there are good and bad spells; however, when a certain spell is really bad, an outcome starts to be seen as evident, and I am convinced that the changes are going to occur soon and that more and more people see the state of things as it is, that they are ready to say something about it, and that more and more people will no longer be afraid of saying certain things. And finally, politics will have to make the moves that are inevitable. Otherwise, Slovenia's future can be jeopardized. And I am indeed certain that something will happen in this sense.

Šeruga: Can you be a little more specific, if possible?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Only time will tell.

Šeruga: Just one more thing. Lately, lots of words have been spoken about the division of blocs within Slovenian politics. It is about partisanship dividing people into "us and them", all of which is not good? But, this decision of yours, Mr President, not to attend the National Statehood Day ceremony, does it not also contribute to this division?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Well, look, I am not involved in party and bloc divisions; I hope I have proved that many times. What I wish is to point out what is good and what is bad. And I am interested only in what is good and what is bad, and consequently, I do not care what party or what political option a person belongs to. This is fundamental, and the rest is of no concern to me.

Šeruga: Thank you very much for the interview, Mr President.

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Thank you.