The Slovenia Times

PM Wants Further Clarification from Defence Minister


Cerar and Veber, who faces allegations by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission that he abused OVS, met to discuss the clarifications provided by the embattled minister about his actions at the weekend.

Veber maintained today that he did not do anything illegal, but Cerar announced that he asked the minister for further clarifications.

The prime minister wants to know why OVS was tasked with performing an analysis of the privatisation of Telekom Slovenije after a civilian body at the ministry already performed its own analysis. He also tasked the minister with providing further legal grounds for his actions, his office said.

Veber has until the end of the week to supplement his report to the prime minister, who also asked the parliamentary commission today to provide him with its findings in the case.

Meanwhile, the prime minister responded to statements by Social Democrat (SD) officials indicating that the party's continued participation in the coalition hinges on support for Veber, saying that "such ultimatums" were inappropriate.

His comments come after SD secretary general Dejan Levanič said SD would consider leaving the coalition if Veber, who is SD vice president, is cast aside by the prime minister.

"It is because of the serious nature of the allegations and the reactions from SD that the prime minister has asked for an in-depth legal analysis of the actions of the minister and that there will be no doubt about the final decision," Cerar's office said in a statement.

Veber maintained after the meeting that the whole story was "trivial" and assessed that he has the trust of the prime minister.

"We are both looking to clear up all questions and dispel any doubts about whether the security of the country may be threatened," Veber told the press.

In addition to declassifying a Defence Ministry report on the effects of the privatisation of Telekom Slovenije, which his political opponents have said is not problematic, the minister also made public today the information obtained by OVS as part of its analysis.

Veber has maintained that the findings of OVS and those of the Civil Protection were nearly identical and that the OVS work was reported to him orally.

He said that the purpose of involving OVS into a broader analysis by the ministry of the effects of the sale of Telekom was to form as wide a view as possible.

"The conclusions [by OVS] are nearly identical to the Administration for Civil Protection and Rescue. [OVS] also proposed a joint meeting with the Interior Ministry, the SOVA intelligence agency and the president's representative for security."

The minister's actions were also debated today by the parliamentary Defence Committee at a session which was initially closed to the public but later opened.

While Veber maintained his innocence, members of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) and Democratic Party (SDS) argued that he must assume responsibility for what is clearly a case of political abuse.

NSi deputy Matej Tonin, who headed the special review of the activities at OVS, said that the intelligence body did not report on its analysis in its annual report, suggesting that it was hiding the activities ordered by the minister.

But Veber said that the analysis merely involved collecting publicly accessible data and that an official report was not even compiled, which is why it was not in the annual report. The working document made public today was never considered an official document.

Meanwhile, the minister was given full backing by his party as the SD leadership met on Monday to discuss the issue. SD leader Dejan Židan said the leadership concluded that Veber was doing a good job as defence minister.

Židan also sought to downplay the scandal as an attempt to discredit the minister and the government. Meanwhile, party secretary general Dejan Levanič denied he had threatened the SD would leave the ruling coalition if Veber was replaced and called for calm heads in the coalition.


More from Nekategorizirano