The Slovenia Times

MPs Oust Defence Minister Over Telco Intelligence Scandal


Cerar told the MPs today that Veber was both directly and indirectly responsible for the unlawful, incorrect and opaque operation in which the Defence Ministry's intelligence and security service (OVS) looked into potential effect of the privatisation of Telekom Slovenije.

Veber meanwhile insisted that the true reason for his dismissal was his outspoke stance that one of the most important companies for the security of Slovenia must not be sold. He repeated that he had merely done his job.

He said the Slovenian Armed Forces depended on the domestic provider, including because of hidden locations, which include the war-time locations of the government and parliament, command posts, warehouses etc.

Veber however failed to convince the MPs that he acted appropriately, being voted out of office with 68 votes in favour to 11 against. The only party to indicate support - apart from his own Social Democrats (SD) - was the opposition United Left (ZL), a strong opponent of privatisation.

A broad bipartisan coalition meanwhile agreed with the assessment that Veber had abused his office with his actions, with some arguing it was to serve his partisan interest to stop the privatisation of the telecoms incumbent.

Some of the most critical remarks came from Bojan Dobovšek, a member of the ruling Modern Centre Party (SMC) and a lecturer at the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, who accused Veber of resorting to fear-mongering to legitimise greater powers for the Defence Ministry's intelligence service.

Veber meanwhile said after the vote that the result "would have probably been completely different" if the MPs were allowed to decide for themselves on how to vote.

The scandal that broke nearly a month ago was a test for the opposition, as the SD closed its ranks around Veber, who refused to resign, despite the PM's instruction from him to step down.

Veber increased the pressure in the past week, suggesting he would file a criminal report against the PM for allegedly endangering national security.

But after the vote, which sent Veber back to the benches of the National Assembly, the coalition appeared to be intact. Cerar said after the session that he expected the coalition to continue in its current form, which had already been indicated by the SD earlier in the day.

SD president Dejan Židan, who will fill in as defence minister until a full-time minister is appointed, said after the session that he would advise the party's presidency, which is scheduled to meet tomorrow, that they remain a coalition partner.

The party will start interviewing suitable candidates next week if the presidency decides the party will stay in coalition, Židan said.

Veber moreover said after the vote that he would see no problem if the SD decided to remain a part of the coalition.


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