President warns against politicisation of police

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor addressed a ceremony on Tuesday remembering the 1989 Operation North, a police campaign which prevented a Serbian nationalist rally in Ljubljana and is thus seen as one of the first steps in Slovenia towards the country eventually declaring independence. In his speech, Pahor warned against politicisation of police today.

Depoliticisation of police started at the time of Operation North and it was one of the milestone processes on the path to Slovenia’s independence, Pahor said.

In that period, the police force set itself the goal of gradually becoming professional, politically independent and of working with the people and for the people, and for the democratically elected bodies.

Since independence it has been gaining people’s trust, but this trust has been put to a test now due to the current social and epidemiological situation, Pahor said.

The Slovenian police force today shows maturity, committent and loyalty but it is important that the public does not get the impression that it is being politicised.

While saying that he did not wish to judge the decisions or measures taken by senior internal affairs officials or MPs, Pahor noted that as president he would like to stress how important it was for a democratic society and country to have a highly qualified, professional police force that is loyal to the state and its people rather than to political parties.

This is why the president believes police should strive to keep enjoying the public’s respect.

Tomaž Čas, the head of the Sever union of police veteran associations, said the association was not indifferent to what was happening to Slovenia and its police force, “which we helped create”.

“We fought for Slovenia as an independent, democratic country that would be based on the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and that would enable everyone to decide on the social, cultural, environmental, economic, security and other vital aspects of the functioning and development of the Slovenian society, state,” Čas said.

“Conformism and apathy are the greatest dangers to society, which can thus become easy prey for division and political extremism of all kinds,” he added.

The Sever union believes the current government is “consciously violating human rights and fundamental freedoms, ruling with decrees rather than having parliament pass laws, is inadmissibly interfering with the media and the appointment of European prosecutors, ignoring court decisions and conducting a staffing tsunami, including in the police force”, Čas said, urging all police officers to be professional and politically independent.

Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič said at a virtual celebration of the anniversary that with the Operation North, Slovenia had won one of its first victories in the independence struggle peacefully.

He said that the Slovenian police had played a key role in the period of independence and democratisation and in developing organised defence of the Slovenian nation.

The speaker noted that the Sever union of police veteran associations should be fully credited for the campaign, and called against “minimising or diminishing” the contribution of the Slovenian police in the independence efforts.

Zorčič, too, touched on the “detrimental and dangerous attempts to abuse the police for narrow political interests”, which has left a deep mark in public life that is manifested as the increasing distrust of citizens in institutions and experts.