As luck would have it, pengovsky is way busy co-handling The Offspring™ which sort of explains the blogging no-show of the past few days (still, you got the skin and meat :)) But that does not mean things were quiet this side of the Alps. Oh, no… What we had here in the past ten-or-so days was almost worthy of an Austin Powers adventure. Guess who plays Dr. Evil…
Janez Janša and Danilo Türk as Dr. Evil and Austin Powers. Shall we shag now or shag later? (photoshop by yours truly)
Remember Operation North? When twenty years after the deed President Danilo Türk awarded a medal to the last socialist interior minister Tomaž Ertl for preventing a Milošević-induced mass rally in Ljubljana in 1989 aimed at overthrowing the reform Communist leadership and installing a pro-Serb hard-liners at the helm of the country? Slightly more than a year ago giving a medal to Ertl (who was, among other things, head of the state secret police) made Janez Janša‘s SDS go apeshit and move to impeach president Türk on the grounds of supporting human rights violations. Janša’s move failed spectacularly but in the whirlwind of half-truths, accusations and conjectures that were the “impeachment case”, a set of questions stood out like a sore thumb: “What was Türk’s connection to Ertl and what did the President know of Ertl’s involvement in acts of international terrorism”
Shaggadelic, baby, yeah!
Fast forward eleven months and SDS starts making noises about how archives of the Slovene branch of SDV (Yugoslav secret service) still remain inaccessible and how this is most unacceptable, undemocratic and (oy vey!) unlawful. It goes on to say that SOVA, the current Slovene secret service, still prevents access to archives of former SDV and by that prevents parliamentary and public oversight of the intelligence services (the pretext being that Igor Omeza, a man of colourful past and high-profile past was denied access to the archives when supposedly researching a story). This apparently pained Janša so much, that he discussed the issue even in a debate on WikiLeaks, where he – in the presence of the new US Ambassador to Slovenia Joseph A. Mussomeli – made a quick argument against releasing the US State Departament cables but then went on a long tirade on why classified SDV archives must be made public in all their ignomy.
And then, a year almost to the day after Türk awarded Ertl with that infamous medal, SDS spectacularly “discovers” documents which supposedly prove that President Türk had detailed knowledge of the 1979 Velikovec (Völkermarkt) bombing in Austrian Carynthia in which three people were injured and which today is widely accepted to have been orchestrated by Slovene branch of SDV or at the very least cooked up by more rabid elements within the service. SDS claimed this directly linked Türk to acts of international terrorism as well as put him firmly in the circle of communist intelligence services. And what worse than an (albeit indirect) accusation that an incumbent president collaborated with communist secrecy service, by extension making either a spy or a snitch.
Enter Exhibit A
President Türk denied any prior or detailed knowledge of the Velikovec bombing. In what was an unusally strong-worded denial (Slovenian only) he bluntly accused Janša’s SDS of manipulation and deceit. Namely, the core of SDS’ case was a diplomatic cable from Yugoslav embassy in Vienna dated almost ten months after the bombing which was a compilation of official an unofficial Austrian responses as well as clippings from Austrian media in relation to the bombing. Recipients of the document included top Party brass and heads of other relevant institutions and committees, including one Danilo Türk, president of the SZDL committee for issues of minorities and diaspora.
At this point it should be noted that in 1979 Danilo Türk was a 26-year-old freshly minted law school graduate who just returned from serving in the army and landed his first job at SZDL (Socialist Union of Working People). The latter was a sort of all-encompassing umbrella organisation for groups and activities which were not strictly sanctioned by the Party, but were needed to be a part of the system to a) maintain the illusion of plurality and b) for the party to keep tabs on them. SZDL was designed to be the intermediary between the Party and the people and as a result, people working with or for SZDL could get away with a whole lot more than those working for the Party. Just to prove my point: the documents which started the JBTZ affair and ultimately began the final push for Slovenian independce were “acquired” by Igor Bavčar (today of Istrabenz infamy) in 1988 while he was working for that same SZDL.
Enter Exibit B
Anyways. Türk denies it and SDS immediately shoots back saying that not only is the President lying but also that it has in its possession a document which proves that Danilo Türk and SDV chief Tomaž Ertl (the one with the medal) go way back and did not meet face-to-face only last year as Türk had claimed during the impeachment proceedings. To back up their claim, they produced another document, a letter by interior secretary Tomaž Ertl from 1982 in which the latter informs the former that the Interior Secretariat is replacing its member of the Türk’s committee.
SDS of course failed to prove either one of their claims. Rather than proving that Türk was a member of the inner circle of the Party/SDV circles, the first set documents proves only that Türk was “privy” to diplomatic cables on the issue of Velikovec ten months after the attack and that information in that particular cable was stale, to say the least. Even more. The list of recipients of the said cable include not only the top Party officials, but people across the institutional spectrum of the socialist system (the Assembly, the SZDL, various committees) which points to the fact that the cable is a cleaned-up “civilian” version of intelligence collected (if there ever was any). In other words, it’s harmless. Secondly, claiming that Türk and Ertl go back thirty years (and again by conjecture trying to establish a link between the President and the inner circles of the SDV) by means of producing a bureaucratic notification is akin to fans claiming to be buddies with Bono of U2 on account of having his autograph. An exaggeration of biblical proportions, that is.
The plot thickens
However, things got even more interesting. First it transpired that SDV documents were sealed by the government of Janez Janša. It turned out to be a classic. First, Janša’s right-wing coalition passed a law transferring all SDV documents to the state archives and aimed at declassifying them. Only then did a special committee take a look at the archives and apparently discovered that some of them are smoking hot. As a result SOVA (Slovene secret service) reclassified parts of documents and Janša’s government set a new release date for them, forty years from now. So, rather than whining about how this government is unlawfully hiding the archives (and at the same time condemning Wikileaks for releasing some other archives), Janša and his party would be better off keeping their mouth shut.
However, this is obviously too much to ask. Releasing supposedly damaging documents has been Janša’s modus operandi for the past 25 years. Indeed, he was sent to prison by the federal army in 1988 for being in possession of a secret army document and after a glorious period during the war of independence in 1991 things only got worse. In 1994, during an attempted coup d’etat, army intelligence service loyal to Janša tried to plant forged documents and use them as pretext to topple the government. The plan backfired and the whole thing ended with Janša’s dismissal as defence minister. After that he made a career of sifting through old archives and publishing them in volumes on end, each and every time claiming to have shed new light on the role of key players of Slovenian independence. Although the documents were either declassified or have at the very least been in the public domain for a very long time, Janša always interpreted them in a way that extolled his role in achieving the independence and portrayed him as a victim of SDV, at the same time diminishing role of others key players, depending on who was his primary enemy at any given time. This time around this appears to be President Türk, who admittedly has little or no direct involvement in achieving the independence but is apparently enough of a problem for Janša to be discredited at all costs. Even if the released documents are forgeries.
Yes. It turns out that the first set of documents wasn’t actually a single set of documents but rather two different batches, sent to two different lists of addressees at two different dates. Indeed, one set (with more details in it) was not addressed to Türk but rather to his predecessor in the SZDL committee. So, in order to implicate Türk in a spy-ring-scandal, SDS published forgeries. If you want to be really lenient, you can call it a document that was “sexed-up for dramatic purposes”. At any rate, the documents thus became irrelevant, while Janša was once again caught lying.
This fuck-up-uncovered might also explain Türk’s strong reaction to Janša’s initial claims. Rumours were circulating for the past few days that Janša’s people took liberties in interpreting what they found in the archives, but few knew just how liberal-an-interpretation they cooked up. Türk apparently knew and it would seem logical for his office to have made inquiries into what exactly were Janša’s people looking for. So, why would the largest opposition party sex documents up in order to substantiate their claims against the president, when they’ve got so much going for them? I mean, SDS is leading the polls, economy is still going down the drain, most people see Janša as the next PM and all he has to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
Part of it most likely has to do with the fact that Janša will not accept defeat. Danilo Türk’s victory in presidential elections in 2007 was the harbinger of Janša’s electoral defeat a year later. Several of Türk’s moves (not in the least giving a medal to Ertl) were like throwing a gauntlet in Janša’s face. And Türk also stole some much wanted limelight during Slovenian EU presidency, having much more diplomatic clout than Janša and his foreign minister Rupel combined.
Secondly, it has to do with destabilising the country. The largest opposition party seems to have made it its mission to oppose almost every government move and actively try to block and derail any measure which could – even by a long shot – break the current social and economic status quo. This includes calling for referendums virtually on a monthly basis, prolonging the legislative process beyond any acceptable means.
And thirdly, it has to do with creating an atmosphere of distrust, deceit and paralysing fear, where no-one dares do anything for fear of what Janša and his people might dig out on any given person. It is an environment of paranoia Janša thrives in but which is ultimately destructive both to him and the country he wants to lead yet again.
Looks like someone lost their mojo
In short, what was meant to be a sort of political black-ops campaign turned out to be amateur night by people who keep feeding us the same shit over and over again, as if they’re caught in some sort of political Ground-hog day, constantly reliving the same idea over and over, always seeing ghosts and wanting to prove that there is some sort of secret clan of die-hard Communists who run the country, refusing to realise that the entire country is sick and tired of their stale tricks and wants to move forwards. If that is still possible at all.
BTW: As of recent the SDS has a lovely new site in English. It is definitely worth your time every once in a while. The more observant of readers will find in there literary gems by none other than former foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel, but even if that’s not your thing, you can still check the crap pengovsky posts against the sharp and deep analysis of the largest opposition party in Slovenia 😀