Pahor’s Cabinet

Only hours after pengovsky posted on the new PM-designate, leaders of the Quartet finally put specific names to specific portfolios, thus enabling Borut Pahor to propose his cabined. Here is a quick rundown of the candidates, based on my meagre information about them.

Five out of eighteen. More will follow

Prime minister: Borut Pahor (but you knew that)

Minister of foreign affairs: Samuel Žbogar. A very skillful diplomat, perhaps lacking in colour a bit. Apparently more of a technocrat. Will make a nice change after the omnipresent Dimitrij Rupel, but Žbogar’s nomination shows that Pahor intends to bask in the limelight of foreign policy and need Žbogar as someone who runs the show but doesn’t take all the credit.

Minister of internal affairs: Katarina Kresal. As predicted, president of LDS got the internal portfolio, which seems right up her alley. She’s a lawyer (albeit a corporate one) and her party specifically emphasised human righst abuses during the campaing – most notably rulings of the consitutional court which have yet to be enacted. The most infamous of these rulings is the decision to restore The Erased to their former status. Katarina Kresal (the first ever female minister of internal affairs) will now get her chance to make good on her promises. Besides, her portofilo covers police forces as well. I can already picture her in a uniform. Ahhhh….

Defence minister: Ljubica Jelušič. A defence expert and a professor on Faculty of Social Sciencies. She is very well known and respected in the academic circles, but little is known of her managerial ability. If and how she handles the continuation of Patria affair will be a tell-tale sign of her competence. Like Katarina Kresal, Jelušič is the first ever female Slovenian defence minister and hers is a difficult task, as Slovene army is facing a rather disturbing shortage of fresh flesh.

Minister of higher education, science and technology: Gregor Golobič. Again, as (sort of) predicted. Arguably the man with the broadest horizons in the government, the leader of Zares got a portfolio where he will be able to combine his various interests and backrgounds and yet leaving him ample time and maneouvering space to do some serious politics, without being too much in the limelight.

Minister of enviroment and urban planning: Karl Erjavec. The man who went for broke and almost lost everything. President of DeSUS may have been stripped of 24/7 armed bodyguard, a bullet-proof Audi and a police escort, but as Slovenia goes about revamping its aged railway system, there will be more than enough opportunities for Teflon Karl to make speeches and cut ribbons, while talking about “his pensioners”.

The next five. Eight to go.

Minister of education and sports: Igor Lukšič. Pahor’s right-hand man and lovingly known as party idelogoue. A professor of political sciencies on Faculty of Social sciencies in Ljubljana. He always maintained that repressive and ideological apparatuses are two of the most important sub-systems of any given state, with eductation being the prime agent of a state’s ideology. A generaly likable guy, who earned his Ph.D. at the age of 29 will finally get to show what he’s made of. His research into ideologies will probably make him a prime target of opposition attacks (something along the lines of reintroducing Leninism to schools, I imagine)

Minister of economy: Matej Lahovnik. Apparently it took some arm twisting for Lahovnik to take this post. There are at least two reasons for that: If there ever was a crappy job in the world, this is it. Along with labour and finance porftolios, minister of economy will have all the shit in the world thrown at him as soon as recession hits this side of the Alps for real. Secondly, it was Lahovnik, who advocated that fresh people take the helm, counting himself out of the equation on multiple occasions, not in the least because he once already held the very same portfoilo. Talk about putting a foot in one’s mouth…

Minister of finance: Franci Križanič. A widely respected macroeconomist, who was once already nominated for a ministerial post (in 1996, when Janez Drnovšek was inches away from forming a left-wing government). Recently he already worked with the outgoing govenment, when the latter drafted Slovenian bail-out legislation, which allocates 12 billion euros to secure interbank lending. But first Križanič will have to clean up state finaces, which are kind of muddled ever since the government claimed to have created a surplus, while the court of audit found a deficit instead.

Minister of labour, family and social affairs: Ivan Svetlik. Another professor at the Faculty of social sciencies. An expert in the field, but it remains to be seen how well he does as a minister. Officially a DeSUS nominee he is believed to be without actual party affiliation. The list of his immediate worries is long and distinguished: pensions, wages, unemployement… No wonder ministers of labour tend to have a short political life span

Minster w/o portforilo for development and European affairs: Mitja Gaspari
. A boring sounding title hides the powers of a super-minister whose chief task will be to coordinate efforts of the above three portofolios and ensure that everybody will be on the same page at all times. Picked personally by Pahor some time before the elections, Gaspari will have almost unprecedented influence in the economic area of Pahor’s reign, as Pahor himself leaves a lot to be desired in this respect. Gaspari, however, already held the finance portfolio and was Governor of the Slovenian Central Bank. He also ran for President in 2007, narrowly losing second place to Danilo Türk in the first round.

Ministers 11 through 15

Minister of Public Administration (civil service): Irma Pavlinič Krebs
. Once a MP from Koroška region, Pavlinič Krebs will take over from Gregor Virant who quietly but effectively ammased extroardinary powers under one title. The ministry handles most if not all of government tenders, coordinates the entire public administration (upravna enota, for all of you who’ve come in contact with Slovenian bureaucracy) and the system of wages in the public sector (some 300.000 employees)

Minister of Transportation: Patrick Vlačič. Another personal pick by Borut Pahor, Vlačič was/is the party’s chief expert in the field and has been a vocal opponent of practices under previous minsiters, all of whom came – without exception for the past 16 years – came from the ranks of SLS. Former finance minister Andrej Bajuk of NSi tried in vain to penetrate the shield SLS had created especially around the area of highway construction and maintainance and the full scope of the influence might (might!) become apparent only now. Vlačič’s first order of business will be to fix the “vignette fiasco”, where the European Comission demanded that Slovenia introduces a short-term vignette for transit vehicles. At the moment ther are only a 12- and 6-months vignettes available, and it seems that introducion a short-term one would break the financial model.

Minister of Culture: Majda Širca. A very important ministry, as it covers media as well. The ultimate test will be whether or not she will hold her party’s election promise to eject political interests from the board of RTV SLO, but her direction will become apparent almost immediately. Yesterday Delo newspaper bought Večer newspaper, in a move which violated the stipulation that any media cocentration above 20% of ownership must be pre-approved by the minister. As of 2005 the decision in minister’s alone and her decision will speak volumes. Hopefully she will a) deny the request to allow ownership concenctration and b) move to reintroduce legal requirements to approve or deny concentration, so that the decision will not be made at the discretion of the minister anymore.

Minister of justice: Aleš Zalar. Former president of the Ljubljana district court and a vocal opponent of the outgoing minister Lovro Šturm, especially ever since the two fell out over Zalar’s candidacy for another term as president of the court. Šturm went above and beyond the call of duty to prevent Zalar from getting another term and ever since the animosity is not just professional. Zalar will have to work closely with his party boss Katarina Kresal to enact overdue decisions of the constitutional court, but he is expected to take an up-close-and-personal look of the new penal code, which came into effect earlier this month and is according to some experts non-standard at best (and a piece of shit at worst).

Minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries: Milan Pogačnik. Another former SLS-fiefdom, important especially because of the ridiculoslly large amoutns of EU funds which are channeled through here. Pogačnik will probably have to face the issuse of GMOs sooner rather than later, as well as other pressing issues, mostly to do with climate changes.

And the last three…

Minister of health: Borut Miklavčič. The recurring theme of Slovenian health system are queues. While health is not really my forte, it can be said that the new minister will be tasked primarily with wrapping up investment projects of past mandates and trying to optimise the health sector which in all honesty is not in all that bad a shape, were it not for endless queues and severely outdated diagnostics equipment. Miklavčič was until now CEO of The Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia, performing compusolry health insurance and as such handling vast amounts of money. Upon assuming that position, he reportedly had to have his office debugged. Twice.

Minister w/o porftofilo in charge of local self-government: Zlata Ploštajner. Noone saw this one coming. Almost completely unknow, she once headed regional development agency in Kozjansko (an underdeveloper region south of Celje). However, pengovsky did take a couple of her courses while at the university, where she was lecturing as an outside expert and I can tell you that she didn’t strike me as a ministerial type. However (and this is me being cynical) if the new PM has plans to kill the regional legislation for good, she is as good as anyone for the job.

Minister w/o portfolio charge of Slovene expatriates: Boštjan Žekš. Former president of Slovene Academy of Arts and Sciencies and is very much respected on the political right as well. Perhaps Žekš’s nomination is a token attempt to appease the opposition since noone really knows why the hell do we nees this ministry. But the outgoing government changed the law which now stipulates that the ministry must exists – and there it is.

BTW: Sorry for beign late in posting this. Things to see and people to do.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

39 thoughts on “Pahor’s Cabinet”

  1. One can easily notice that Samuel Zbogar used to work together with the current Slovenian President back in New York. During Danilo Turk’s term as ambassador to the UN, Zbogar was his deputy, including at the time when Slovenia held the two years mandate of non-permanent member of the UNSC. Wouldn’t be more likely to see his afiliation from that perective? Of course, that shouldn’t be the only one.

  2. Well, fuck me sideways. I didn’t know that (minus points for me for failing to do my homework). Well I guess this only reiterares Žbogar’s position as being very well versed in bilateral and multilateral relations.

    So we have an FM who gets along with the Prez and is willing to work under the new PM, quite possibly taking a back seat on more prestigious issues.

    Sounds like a perfect marriage 🙂

  3. I thought the correct prhare would be “I do!” :mrgreen:

    And I know for a fact that there are eligible young men in the wild here, so you might even have to fend them off 😉

  4. You are damn right, I apologize, but it’s just lack of experience as well future perspective. I promise you I’ll exercise in front of a mirror. “I do I do I do I do I do!” – this makes me revival a wonderful, special and unforgettable ABBA evening!

    …and who said is interested in young flesh? A young soul and spirit, perhaps.

  5. Hm, some of my personal observations. I remember first noticing Jelušič when she fumbled in a pre-NATO referendum debate (the question was: “so what exactly were the repurcissions for the pilots who were responsible for the death of 20 people in Aviano?”, and the best she came up with was: “well, they were fired.” at which point Kacin had to jump in and put things into the perspective: “they were dishonourably dismissed, and to American airmen, that is the worst way of going out there is.”). Haven’t been very fond of her since that.

    I was kinda hoping for Vajgl in the FM seat, but Žbogar seems to be competent as well.

    I’m kinda sorry Žekš didn’t get a more high profile ministry, if he’s gonna be minister.

    A personal observation: I’ve seen Širca on many cultural occasions, be it in the self-proclained shrine of Slovene culture, Cankarjev dom, or in the hub of urban culture (and granted, juvenile drinking), Metelkova. At least she seems to be well acquainted with Slovene cultural developments, even if only as a consumer, which in my book is a plus.

    (also, I think you were going to stress that Jelušič is the first ”female” minister of defence, but you left that particular part out. Might wanna fix that – you can delete this part of my message afterward.)

  6. @Cornelius:

    Thanks for the heads up on the adjective. Dully corrected 🙂

    I too was hoping for Vajgl to become the FM, but if Pahor really is going to have a hands-on approach in foreign policy, I don’t think Vajgl would have tolerated it.

    Re Širca: Agreed, but I’m not afraid about her being an advocate of a “rural” culture. Rather I wonder will she be able to stomach the bloodbaths that are Slovene media and Slovene films. That’s where the real money and interests are.

  7. Praise for Sirca? Isn’t she responsible for bizzare laws requiring all scientific work to be written in Slovene language? And that 40% of radio program has to be in Slovene language?

    Those kinds of laws are what make the little country pathetic and backwards. Sirca sucks.

    Hehe, Kresal for internal affairs? How becoming. I’d let her cuff me and spank me a little bit, I am man enough to handle it, hehehe. Just keep the ice pick away from the winter queen.

    Golobic minister for higher education and science! Hallelujah! The formalization of Slovenian lifelong student status. I guess a man who took 20 years to get his undergraduate degree in philosophy truly is capable of supreme leadership in that field. In a normal country he’d be serving me fries or cappuccino.

    I listened to Zbogar give a talk about Slovenia and joining the EU here in Atlanta. He was not too bad. The only qualm I had about that was the little secretary sitting behind the desk and changing the slides for him on command. Looked like 19. century. Also his English could be better. But he is good for feel-good fluff. Made some funny self-deprecating remarks.

    Lahovnik? Ninja, please. At least he has a degree in the field he will be controlling. But ask him how his NKBM stocks are doing and if that is the model by which he will lead.

    And just a general observation – out of 18 spots only 4 women? At a time when a black man can become the president of the most powerful country in the world, a left-leaning government could be more cognizant of diversity. Well, even a right-leaning one should have been, but I guess I would just expect more from these guys in that sense.

  8. @crni:”In a normal country he’d be serving me fries or cappuccino”
    Remember Joska Fischer? After serving you fries and cappuccino as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Germany he became without highschool degree a senior fellow at the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination and a visiting professor at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, both at Princeton University, USA.
    MP Woman elected: SD 8/29, SDS 2/28, Zares 1/9, LDS 1/5, all other 0/19.
    Government Pahor/Janša 5/3 = +66%!
    It is interesting to read comments on RTVSLO:
    Pahor is womenised, on the other hand he has no stable engagement to a woman, should have a lot of mistresses.
    Remember Janša: he still is voting in Grosuplje where the mother of his children, he was never married to, lives, so his formal address is there, Urska is voting in Šoštanj or Velenje, but they represent Slovenia abroad as a couple even not been one in the eyes of the most liberal Slovenian law. Before Urska there was …? And the Pope (or his people) suggest him to the voters as a good christian!
    Pahor is wearing expensive cloths, they forget Jansa also wears expensive cloths but unfortunately they don’t fit him!
    Pahor is communist because being a member of ZKS and ZKJ, Janša is no communist also being a member of ZKS and ZKJ.
    So they say Pahor is bad guy because of this and Janša is good guy because of the same.
    So, Crni, I see where your name comes from, but please measure in the same way both sides!
    Regards, Davor (or shloud I say Red 🙂 )

  9. @Davor: Please, no name calling. Besides, I think you’re wrong on where crni’s nick comes from.

    However, you made a very good point about everything else, especially Joschka Fischer.

    @crni: Actually, all programming must be broadcasted in Slovenian language, unless it is a programme for a minority or a station has a special permission to broadcast in another language (like Radio SI).

    What you probably wanted to say, is that 40% of all music must be Slovenian.

    Actually, that applies to RTVSLO only, whereas for the rest of us, the percentage is set to 20%. I for one support such measure. Not in the least because it forces broadacsters to enlarge the scope of Slovenian music beyond oldies-goldies like Zoran Predin and Tomaž Domicelj.

    If it were not for these 20%, then artists like Murat & Jose, Magnifico and Siddharta (to name but a few) would never succeed because they just wouldn’t have the exposure.

  10. Well, Red is your name! Red herring, hehe 🙂

    Did I call Pahor a woman or complain about his clothes. Please. Even if I had, that would have been in jest. So please, spare me your red herring arguments.

    As far as Golobic is concerned I stand by my statement. It is shameful for me as a natural scientist finishing my PhD that the ministry that controls the science and higher education policy is controlled by such an aparatchik. It is pretty obvious that Golobic never had any interest in science, while I am sure Joshka Fisher had an interest in international relations – who doesn’t?

    As far as the other stuff is concerned, it’s really none of my business who is fucking who. It does make for some fun conversation, but that’s it.

  11. @crni: this is a pretty lame argument… If having a PhD is necesary for science and higher education portfolio, then you must really miss Rado Bohinc :mrgreen:

    And even having an interest in a particular field tells you little about a person’s ability to run the ministry or even execute policy. Case in point being Dimitrij Rupel. He had plenty of interest and look what happened…

  12. I didn’t say a PhD is necessary. Although it does help, especially since the minister pretty much has to face a lot of people who do have one. I would have liked someone who either has a degree in science or has excelled academically (in whichever field). Golobic has neither.

    My point is that Pahor was blabbering about a competent and professional cabinet. Golobic in that particular ministry is not competent. It is also very telling of the attitude of the current government towards science and knowledge – they do not feel it is important. No wonder, with so many FDV professors in the cabinet.

  13. …I mean you said it yourself. Golobic will have ample time for other stuff. Because the work that he needs to do in that ministry is not really important?

    Shame shame.

  14. And just to keep it “fair and balanced”, I was also bitching like that when the previous collection of idiots assigned Mojca Kucler – Dolinar to the same function.

  15. I mean you said it yourself. Golobic will have ample time for other stuff

    True, I said that. I also said that given his unique experiende “Golobič should be perhaps tasked with combining the academic, economic and R&D resources this country has”

    He is highly intelligent, has a thing for IT and is apparently an extremely good organiser and motivator (not to mention his political shrewdness).

    I hope you won’t take the following personally, but in my experience, people who have excelled accademically are ill equipped to perform any meaningful task outside the immediate scope of their academic field (provided that they don’t have a natural knack for – say – selling).

    Yes, a competent government. But that means that a minister has to understand his particular field, not excel in it.

    To give you an analogy: The best coaches were often only average players.

  16. Yeah, but they played the game. Golobic was never in science, nor in higher education. He is an aparatchik, that is all.

  17. ” … but in my experience people who have excelled accademically are ill equipped to perform any meaningful task outside the immediate scope of their academic field … ”

    we have a name for them: fah idioti
    who in this conversation reminds me of them?
    crni? no, it can’t be, he’s so broad-minded, respectful, tolerant, fair, ever so objective, not at all mean coz his lot didn’win the elections,
    so it can’t be him

  18. There was no “my lot” in the elections and I didn’t vote.

    And hey, I am not the one calling the other people in this conversation dirty names. How about staying on topic instead of attacking me personally?

    How about addressing my arguments instead of producing sweeping generalizations about people who are academically superior to you? Remember, I am talking about the ministry of science and higher education – I did not say Katarina Kresal was not fit to run the ministry of the interior for example.

    Also, I never claimed to be any of the things you list. I am a highly educated, elitist and opinionated asshole and proud of it.

  19. @crni: He played the game too. He graduated. 😀

    A ministerial position is by definition political. Ergo, academic excellence plays little or no role whatsoever in running the ministry.

    As a minister he will be required to know “the area of operations”. However, in-depth knowledge of specific areas is required of minister’s advisors, Directorates and other subsidiary institutions. Therefore it is far more important whom will Golobič pick as his immediate co-workers. He won’t be able to run the ministry alone, that much is certain.

    However, the “proud, highly educated, elitist and opinionated asshole” that you claim to be has probably made me decide do dedicate one of the future posts to Golobič’s hearing in the parliamentary committee. Given all that was said here it should be interesting 🙂

    @Aja: The term “fah idioti” did come to mind, yes 🙂

  20. 1. The guys are not even belted in the sits and the guns already opened fire on them.
    2. I am just a non-graduated but I think I have heard right that when one approach does not work you should try an other. So lets turn the stick around: what would you say, Crni, when Pahor would pick Dr. Slavoj Zizek instead of Globic for that post. Who would fit better: the most quoted Slovenian scientist (is humanistic science at all 🙂 ) or the apparatchik Golobič?
    3. Or when Pahor would pick Dr. MM (I do not daer to mention Gods name!) instead of Lahovnik for that post. Who made more, let us say significant comments (so maybe I am not going to be sued), on stock and economic development, MM or Lahovnik and in what hole MM is hiding right now so we do not hear anything more from him. When my old brain still remembers, Crni, you were a huge fan of Dr. MM.
    4. I am not going further from name to name since NO. 1. Let them work, history will judge.

  21. 1. What guns? This is a lonely scream of an opinionated asshole on a private blog 🙂 The media in Slovenia love these guys, there is almost no scrutiny. I would say that the previous government was much more criticized when it was first announced, but then you will again try to brand me as some kinds of SDS fan.

    2. What kind of “what if” bullshit is this? We are discussing the situation at hand, not some hypothetical scenarios. Stay on the topic, you cock – tu quoque! (I know the meaning is different, but the sound just begged for it :-).

    Also, Zizek is not the most cited or quoted Slovenian academic (Zizek is not a scientist!). That is just a myth perpetuated by the non-scientists. Go check the Web of Knowledge.

    3. See #2.

    4. Sure, I can’t wait to be pleasantly surprised. However, Pahor having said that his cabinet will be professional and competent, I could not help but point out the obvious lie in that statement.

    Peng: Please spare me the “minister can sit back and bullshit” argument. You know as well as I do that the appointment of Golobic to that particular ministry is a slap in the face of every scientist and knowledge worker. What would you say if a chemist with no relevant experience would have been appointed to the ministry of culture or of economics? I wouldn’t have liked that either.

  22. Oh and as for the “fah idiot” slur – I cannot help but notice that it has deviated from its original meaning. It used to mean a person who truly just knew one subject. Lately it is being used by sad little people wallowing in mediocrity to brand others, who have actually truly excelled at one thing while being at least competent in many other ways. Truly pathetic.

  23. Crni, it sounds like you are getting a little bit angry, but let me anyway just add my opinion here. First, if you want to keep the term “science” to your sphere of expertise, no problem, luckily the Ministry in question is for higher education, science and technology, and like it or not, philosophy IS high education and there is also technology involved. So science is actually only one of its spheres. Sadly, in many cases philosophers are the only highly educated scholars, while scientist do tend to be “fah idiots”. My point here is not praising Gregor Golobič, we’ll talk about his work after he actually does some, but rather to dismiss your haughty ideas concerning philosophy and humanities. I am sorry, but when I browse book stores here in Tokyo, I can find and impressive collection of books by Slavoj Žižek, as well as some from Alenka Zupančič or Mladen Dolar. So you can sreem as much as you want that Žižek is not a scientist, but he IS highly educated.
    I just don’t see why, having a really broad humanistic education, would make you less fit for the job than having an extremely deep knowledge in, for example, organometallic chemistry? Such guy can be a world’s top expert in the field, yet outside his lab there is no guarantee he can discuss social matters with more competence than the average salad vendor.

  24. Again, we are not really discussing Zizek or scientist vs. humanities here. You guys keep trying to sidetrack the conversation.

    Golobic is not competent in science or higher education. That is a fact. His appointment is purely political. Also fact. Pahor was saying that his cabinet will be competent and professional, and yet he appointed Golobic to this post. Another fact.

    So what am I supposed to think here? The message is: Science and higher education is not important enough for Pahor to appoint a competent person to that ministry. Instead, he gave it to some politico, to give him ample time to participate in the backroom dealings and bullshitting.

  25. Ok, the problem seems to be, that I fail to see this fact. So could you be so kind and explain again why exactly it is a fact that Golobič is not competent to run this ministry?

  26. It took him 20 years to get a diploma? He never worked in science, education or technology (at Ultra he was a manager)? You call that competent?

  27. Well, he studied philosophy, and he did it for twenty years, which could mean that his diploma is much more thorough and theoretically relevant than of some kid, who graduated in four years (just an assumption, I never read the thing) so he is familiar with high education (and he is a good friend of Žižek 🙂 ) Then he worked in Ultra, so he should know something about technology as well, I presume. On the other hand he had worked for many years in politics, and ministers are politicians and not professors. So, really, I still miss this big “incompetence” moment you seem to find particualry in GG.
    However, I am not professing any blind fate in him. He might as well turn out as completely disastrous minister. But I will criticize him than rather than throw at him this “incompetent” bullshit now, just because I’m not fan of his party.

  28. Look, his appointment is not based on his qualifications for that particular ministry but rather purely political. I know that is how things are done and Pahor&Co have every right to do it that way, however Pahor was promising that “this time it will be different”. More of the same.

    Your 20 years of study argument is a steaming pile of shit. Sorry. And hey, I am friends with a guy who is friends with a Nobel prize winner, does that mean that I am smart and competent? Jesus, some arguments are truly pulled out of a tightly squeezed butthole.

    What I am primarily concerned about is that GG will treat his position just like Pengovsky has described. Namely, will not care about the ministry, will maintain the status quo and not institute any changes. Perhaps give some of his buddies good permanent jobs, and that’s that. His time and his mind will be occupied by other things. He hasn’t cared about science or higher education all his life, why would he start now?

  29. The thing with Žižek was obviously a joke, so don’t get steamed up too much. As for the rest, let’s just go with my last sentence in previous commentary and continue this debate when you actually do have an argument against his performance as a minister (i.e. after he actually becomes minister and perhaps does some work)

  30. Wow! Such a learned debate between two PhD candidates that I dare not interject. 🙂

    Just for the record: I never said that Golobič would maintain status quo and institute no changes. Quite the opposite in fact. This particular ministry would give him ample opportunity to make leaps forward, and still give him room to indulge in pure politics. “Would” being the operative word here. It is by no means a given.

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