Showdown At OK Sečovlje

Remember Joško Joras? A group of people organised into movement 25. Junij (June 25th) yesterday led what they called a peaceful march for a fair border between Slovenia and Croatia.

Janez Podobnik (left, 2004) and Marjan Podobnik (right, 2008) provoking at Slovene-Croatian border

In case you don’t know, the litlle fleck of land Joško Joras calls home is only accessible by a road between Slovenian and Croatian border checkpoints at Sečovlje border crossing. Even more, it is on the disputed piece of land, claimed by both Slovenia and Croatia. The latter enforced its claim by blocking the road with cement flower pots and today’s march was called under a pretext of removing these pots, following an order to do so by Piran District Court.

Now, you have to understand that since both countries claim sovereignity over this land, there is a regulat tug-of-war between various institutions. Croatinan district court in Buje thus orders the road to be closed, while Slovenian district court in Piran then rules that the closure is illegal and orders pots to be removed. And so it goes on forever. Croatians are – truth be told – slightly better in this enterprise, mostly because they have direct land access to Joras’s land and can therefore engage in a multitude of tricks, whereas Slovenian options are limited – neglecting the fact that Croatia really wants to achieve a fait accompli, whereas Slovenia opted not to hit below the belt and plays the long game.

Anyways. Morons of 25. Julij today wanted to (and I qoute) “enact the ruling of Piran Distric court” and remove those pots. Which is all fine and dandy, unless a) it is paintfully obvious that this is a very very lame excuse to try and provoke a border incident and b) that the law cannot be enforced by a mob.

Leader of 25. Julij is – you won’t really be surprised – Marjan Podobnik, brother of Janez Podobnik, minister of enviroment and former president of SLS. Now, Marjan himself was president of SLS in the second half of the 90s but he spectacularly fucked up and was sent to political oblivion. Or so we thought. Some six months ago he formed movement 25. junij (the date of Slovene independence) and it was immediately obvious that shit is about to hit the fan. Namely, the Podobnik Bros. have an unhealthy relationship with that particular piece of the border and Joško Joras. Four years ago, only days before the elections Janez Podobnik went “to visit” Joško Joras, tussled with the Coratian police and caused an international border incident. And yesterday, his brother Marjan gathered a mob of 200 people, went to remove those fucking pots, tussled with the croatian police and caused an international border incident. Am I the only one seeing a pattern here?

If you want to see the tussle, click here, scroll to the end of the article and press play.

The whole thing disgusts me and I think Podobnik (Marjan, this time around) deserves a proper bitch slapping. Creating an international incident to score cheap political points is crazy (oh, he maintains that the whole thing is apolitical. Yeah, and I’ll vote SDS in autumn). Abusing a member of your own party to do so (Joras) is despicable. And finally, claiming that the rule of law is at an end since Slovene police won’t let them camp in for the night is just criminal.

And just to remind you – this is not the first case of mob justice in this country. Remeber Ambrus and the Strojan Family? Precisely the same mechanisms were at work yesterday. The fact that this government rode to power on a wave of xenophpby, nationalism and even racism, gives a carte blanche to Podobniks and the likes (Slovenian readers will appreciate the wordplay, no?) to go about serving justice as they see fit.

EDIT: in the comments, crni validly points out that Slovenian police removed the protesters once their Slovenian permit expired. I’m not saying that the entire state apparatus is in on serving mob justice. By “this government” I mean the actual political body and the political parties it consists of.

Oh, and – don’t forget – today is 27 April. Today Slovenia celebrates the formation of the Liberation front in 1941. Detailed info here, this year let me just announce that I’ll be doing the Liberation Day Hike on May 10th and you are welcome to join in.

Smrt fašizmu, svoboda narodu!

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

13 thoughts on “Showdown At OK Sečovlje”

  1. It is an interesting parallel: in the same time we have a discussion about Big Brother and this is like being Little Brother (Podobnik). But in this case Little is even worse than Big. Will there be any reaction of the Human rights watchwoman?

  2. I was just watching a Pro-Plus broadcasted reality show, where drunk-sodden adults behave like animals… and then I switched the channel to Big Brother. 🙂

    It should also be noted that all the ultra-right-wing parties Slovenia has to offer were in attendance: Jelinčič (SNS), SSN (Anti-Jelinčič nationalists), skinheads (Nazi flag with “Caranthanian Panther”), Tu je Slovenija (xenophobe youth) and Hervardi (a militant “cultural heritage” movement).

    The most funny thing I saw was when a couple of those “nationalists” tried to sing Avsenik’s “Slovenija od kod lepote tvoje…” and only managed to remember the first 3 verses of the song.

  3. @Davor: Hmmmm… I have great respect for Ms. Čebašek, the human rights watchwoman. But you are right – they claim BB is “the reality of today”. Not so. Reality is far more bzzare than anything Big Brother script writers can come up with.

    @abaris: The paradox that strikes me as most odd is the fact that the mob was shouting nasty things about Croatians’ mothers – in Croatian :mrgreen:

  4. Isn’t the most obvious solution to the problem pushing Croatia to EU as soon as possible, and then it’ll be all ours all the way to Dubrovnik! Of course, if people don’t appreciate the “European idea” and are more into small tribalism, then we can as well kick Štajerska out of Slovenija, put some flower pots on Trojane, deport Joras as a foreign citizen back to Maribor and sing happy songs.

  5. I mean, we should settle this border issue once and for all (of course in a civilized manner, not as a bunch of Australopithechi we can see on the footage), but what I don’t understand is, why the hell are they fighting for “Slovenian interests” while waving a flag with a stone from Austria and another with Peugeot logo?

  6. At the risk of sounding like a government apologist – your second to last paragraph does not seem correct. As far as I can tell, the Slovenian police promptly removed the protesters after their permit expired and thus tried to contain the whole mob rule thing. I see no parallel with Ambrus in this sense, neither do I see how the government was involved this time. I think it’s just SLS trying to score points -> since they don’t understand any other political or economic issues, they can only play on nationalism.

  7. You’ll remember, no doubt, that the police intervened in Ambrus as well (beating up the mob a bit).

    I was not, however, talking about police intervention which went down just as you described and of which I approve. I was refering to the – shall we say – rationale behind trying to serve mob justice. An election campaign ago political forces which were later elected to govern, chose a rhetoric of hatred and bigotry, which – after a decade of entirely superficial, but nevertheless existing “all different, all equal” – unleashed the xenophobic sentiment and small-mindedness this country is replete with and legitimised it as an acceptable method for pursuing specific political goals.

    I obviously agree that SLS is playing the nationalistic card. The problem is that it’s not just them. This was only a prelude to much bigger and possibly much more devastating episodes of “orchestrated spontaneity”.

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