Pahor in talks with party leaders to prepare joint meeting

Ljubljana – Two of Slovenia’s nine parliamentary parties have declined President Borut Pahor’s invitation to a joint meeting aimed at reaching a consensus on the need for the country to focus the epidemic, a post-pandemic recovery and the country’s EU presidency. Nevertheless, he has high expectations for the meeting.

Pahor extended the invitation to the presidents of all parliamentary parties on Monday and launched on Tuesday a series of meetings with them to discuss preparations for the joint meeting.

Pahor estimates that he gave the initiative for the meeting at the right moment after he first presented it last year, his office said in today’s press release.

He said dialogue was particularly important when party leaders had different views. “In such circumstances dialogue assumes a special weight and meaning.”

The president believes that the current widening political differences have a negative impact on overcoming the health crisis.

He finds it important for the party leaders to jointly rethink the strategic guidelines for a post-crisis recovery and agree on strategic topics of Slovenia’s EU presidency.

The release said Pahor had not consulted any party leader before sending out the invitation, as alleged by the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) in its response.

The opposition LMŠ and the Left are the only two parties that have turned down the invitation.

DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec meanwhile thanked Pahor for the invitation in today’s phone conversation as he also told him about a vote of no-confidence in the government to be filed in the coming weeks.

Erjavec thinks it would be better to hold the planned meeting after the vote, which Pahor agreed with.

Pahor’s office said that both stances are legitimate, but he added that “rejecting dialogue in principle could lead to exclusion, which nobody seems to favour”.

Nevertheless, Pahor will make an effort for the meeting to contribute to Slovenian politics reaching a greater degree of consensus on key challenges.

He believes this should lead to a more tolerant and inclusive mood in the public, which he sees important for taking action during the health crisis and after.

Prime Minister Janez Janša sees Pahor’s invitation as well-intended and neutral, while Pahor has already met opposition National Party (SNS) head Zmago Jelinčič.

The coalition New Slovenia (NSi) also welcomed the initiative, with leader Matej Tonin saying all parties should strive for a common approach to the epidemic, for the country’s exit strategy and for tolerance. The only way to reach these goals is dialogue.

Convinced that the epidemic is “a test of political maturity and solidarity”, Tonin tweeted that party leaders would never agree on everything but it was key that they did on key issues. He is also worried about rising intolerance in Slovenian society.

Tanja Fajon of the opposition Social Democrats (SD) accepted the invitation, but just like Marjan Šarec of the LMŠ partly blamed Pahor for the current situation, arguing he had never spoken up when the Janša government had been undermining democracy and the constitutional order.

Janša said Fajon and Šarec’s response “clearly illustrate how tangled up and negative the opposition is” as he took to Twitter last evening.

The Left’s Luka Mesec, turning the invitation down, said he did not understand it as part of the solution but as part of the problem.

The opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) said that if politicians stop talking to each other, a call to violence can follow, which is unacceptable for the SAB.

Pahor will set the date of the joint meeting after consulting parliamentary party leaders, also taking into account their ideas of which proposals it should feature.