The Slovenia Times

Opposition in New Attack on Government


The report accused the three men of abuse of office in order to secure EUR 700,000 for the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences (FDV), a school at which both both Pikalo and Lukšič teach.

The 2009 tender awarded the funds to the school for its "Formal Forms of Education for Citizenship in a Multicultural Society" project, which was executed by the Centre for Critical Political Science, headed by Lukšič's brother Andrej Lukšič.

SDS MP Andrej Čuš told the press today that the criminal report implied that those involved acquired financial gain in the project.

As part of the project, Pikalo was paid for work he did not do, said Čuš. The then teacher at FDV published as part of the project an article he had written and also published before the tender, said the MP.

It is evident that the Social Democrats (SD), the party headed by Lukšič, does not have "clean hands", said Čuš. "It is clear that Pikalo was a member of Lukšič's inner circle, which includes Lukšič's family and his colleagues at the school."

Lukšič was in office between November 2008 and February 2012.

The SDS also finds problematic the ministry's funding of a similar project conducted by the the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) that also involved Marina Lukšič Hacin, a cousin of the former minister.

According to reports by commercial broadcaster POP TV in January, the ministry granted EUR 800,000 for SAZU's project and nearly EUR 600,000 for the one carried out by FDV.

The figure included in POP TV's report is more than EUR 100,000 lower than that stated in the ouster motion and the criminal report. However, POP TV's report was confirmed by Mojca Škrinjar, who was state secretary at the Education Ministry at the time of the tender.

The SDS has also taken issue with the contents of articles published as part of the project, saying that "instead of looking into the 21st century, they are looking back in to history, including to undemocratic systems."

The biggest opposition party believes that the project failed to contribute anything to improving the education system or civic education.

Pikalo, Lukšič and Pertinač have rejected all the allegations since they surfaced in early January.

Pikalo, who took over the ministry in March 2013, has underlined that individuals did not profit from public funds in this project and that he was proud of the work that has been done.

He tweeted today that political games will have to wait until the most severe damage of ice storms was repaired.

Lukšič said in January that several ministries were involved in the tender and it was therefore impossible that one person would have manipulated the tender.

The SD, of which Pikalo is a member, labelled the ouster motion an interpellation against public education. Coalition partner Citizens' List (DL) believes the motion was unnecessary, while the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) said that politics should focus on more important issues. The ruling Positive Slovenia (PS) is yet to respond.

This will be the fourth ouster motion for the incumbent government, following unsuccessful interpellations against Finance Minister Uroš Čufer, Interior Minister Gregor Virant and Infrastructure Minister Samo Omerzel.


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