Pahor invites party heads for talks on key topics

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor has expanded his initiative for cooperation among political parties with a call for a meeting of leaders of all parliamentary parties. He would like to measure support for his proposal that parties reach a consensus on focusing on the fight against the epidemic, on post-pandemic recovery and Slovenia’s EU presidency.

In the invitation for the meeting, Pahor noted that Slovenia would mark this year the 30th anniversary of declaration of its independence and its defence, as well as of its international recognition and the country’s constitutionality.

“In these three decades we have established a relatively solid political system founded on parliamentary democracy. Past experience tells us that we have been able to overcome the hardest challenges and to take the hardest decisions, because we have talked about them,” adds the invitation, published on Monday.

Pahor has assessed that today, there is not enough such dialogue, including at the level of the parliamentary party leaders. For this reason, they are invited for a meeting, as the president believes that “such a talk at the moment when we are facing one of the toughest challenges, could be useful.”

The fight against the Covid-19 epidemic, a recovery after it and Slovenia’s EU presidency in the second half of 2021 are, according to Pahor, topics of exceptional importance that are common to “all, regardless of political differences”.

Two opposition party leaders have already responded to Pahor’s invitation.

While Tanja Fajon of the Social Democrats (SD) accepted it, both Fajon and Marjan Šarec of his eponymous LMŠ party partly blamed Pahor for the current situation, arguing he had never spoken up when the Janez Janša government had been undermining democracy and the constitutional order.

Šarec, the leader of the largest opposition party, said democracy had never been more at stake and advised Pahor to first have a word with Janša.

“I respect your appeal, but I would take it much more sincerely if you had not kept quiet when all the attempts at destroying the legal order and constitutional order were being made.”

Assuming Pahor’s appeal has been coordinated with Janša, Šarec sees it as an attempt to “tar everyone with the same brush to get approval for the government’s action”.

Šarec also recalled in his Facebook post that the opposition had proposed a number of solutions for emergency coronavirus legislation, but the coalition had rejected them one after another.

It is meanwhile hard to speak about EU presidency “when the government has completely isolated us in foreign policy”, said Šarec.

Fajon does not have high expectations for the meeting, saying unity with this government was not possible because there was no trust.

She believes all constitutional and democratic options to take Slovenia out of the crisis should be studied, but the first step is “changing the current government”.

Should this not be possible in parliament [with a vote of no-confidence], Fajon hopes Pahor will urge an early election.

“I do not share your assessment that the government is managing the epidemic well, as this is denied by the fact that we are a world leader in terms of Covid deaths.”

She agrees that unity in managing the epidemic, Slovenia’s EU presidency and in post-pandemic recovery would be useful.

But the government’s radical actions, its incitement of hatred and intolerance and subjugating of independent institutions show it is not worthy of trust, she said.

The meeting Pahor proposes could contribute to mutual understanding but it cannot absolve the government of its responsibility for all the tragic mistakes it has made and which will be felt for generations to come, and the same goes for Pahor’s responsibility for the protection of Slovenia’s democratic and constitutional standards, said Fajon.

Janša took to Twitter describing Pahor’s invitation as well-intended and neutral, while also saying Šarec and Fajon’s responses “clearly illustrate how tangled up and negative the opposition is”.

The non-parliamentary Good State party also took to Twitter saying it would be decent to also ask non-parliamentary parties for their opinions.

The STA is still waiting for the other parliamentary parties to respond to Pahor’s initiative.