Pahor says major healthcare reform should be priority of next govt

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor told public broadcaster TV Slovenija on Monday that a lesson learned during the epidemic was that Slovenia needed a strong public health system. The current system is in need of a thorough overhaul, so structural changes in the health sector should be a priority of the next government, he noted.

The president talked about the fight against Covid-19, saying he would follow experts’ opinion regarding introducing mandatory vaccination. If this is proposed by experts, he would ask to address MPs to urge them to unanimously support the decision on compulsory vaccination.

He said that he understood that some still had a fear of vaccination, adding that anyone who overcame this fear was a hero of the time.

Pahor also said that Slovenia had to immediately address important development issues. Among other things, he called for structural change in the health sector. On the issue of raising doctors’ pay, he said: “When you open Pandora’s box, you need to know how you are going to close it, otherwise you risk a very unpredictable situation in the public sector pay system.”

The president reiterated that he intended to call a scheduled general election on 9 February. The election is expected to be held on 24 April.

If after the election no party leader wishing to become prime minister has the necessary support to be endorsed in the National Assembly, Pahor would give the relative winner of the election a chance.

Regarding political staffing, he said that corporate culture was clearly not yet sufficiently developed in Slovenia, so politicians often ended up believing that they had the right to intervene in corporate governance, including in terms of staffing. “I think this is a big mistake,” he said, referring to both the situation in state-owned companies as well as other subsystems, where, he said, politicians should show more restraint.

Commenting on the achievements of the Slovenian EU presidency, Pahor highlighted the October EU-Western Balkan summit where leaders agreed to continue the enlargement process, which actually happened, he said, as new negotiating chapters were opened nearing the end of the presidency.

“Despite our efforts, we have unfortunately not been able to crack the hard nut of blackmailing North Macedonia with new concessions for the country to be able to continue on its path to the European Union,” he said. He will strive to help find a solution that could be achieved perhaps during the French EU presidency, which will follow Slovenia’s stint at the helm of the Council of the EU.

He also commented on criticism by centre-right politicians saying that centre-left MEPs were washing Slovenia’s dirty laundry in Brussels. Pahor said that one needed to understand that the EU was a common homeland of its member states and the EU Parliament the parliament of their democracy and not a foreign parliament.

Pahor also believes that Slovenia has a good chance of becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2024-2025.