Hostage Situation

Last Thursday Slovenian parliament was due to vote on ratification of Croatian and Albanian NATO membership. Not EU membership, but NATO. Slovenian constitution requires that the parliament ratifies such treaties with a two-thirds majority of MPs present, a rather smart proviso which requires at least some sort of political consensus on such questions. This proviso was put in place especially for Slovenian accession to both EU and NATO in 2004, but has – logically – remained in place ever since. There were some initial hold-ups with this particular ratification process, as the more rabid element of SLS (which in this case stands for Sacred Land of Slovenia) demanded to check if Croatia didn’t by any chance join NATO based on the same maps which Slovenia disputes in the Croatian EU bid. It didn’t and especially since Janez Janša‘s SDS declared to vote in favour of the ratification, things looked bright and sunny for Croatia at least in this department.

What’s 1 plus 1, punk!?

Or so it seemed. Preceding the ratification vote was a vote on Annual Account for 2007 budget, which was drawn up and fully executed by the previous government, led by Janez Janša (due to elections in September, the 2008 budget was – in it’s last month – executed by the new government of Borut Pahor). Now, according to 2007 Annual Account, prepared by Janša’s government, the budget boasted a surplus. Even back then pengovsky wondered how was that possible. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one. After the Court of Audit poured over that particular budget and found that instead of a surplus, Janša’s government created a deficit. Due to Court’s misgivings (which in essence said that Janša’s government cooked up the numbers), and possibly out of malice as well, the coalition MPs rejected the Annual Account until it was amended in accordance with the Court’s findings.

As a result, The Quartet MPs voted to reject the Annual Account, after which all hell broke loose. SDS MPs went apeshit and called an obstruction by leaving the chamber, saying that until the parliament approves the Annual Account in present form, they will not take part in any vote whatsoever. Including the vote on Croatian NATO membership. They of course fully realised that without their vote there is no ratification. Shortly after, on a crisis meeting, the Quartet buckled and send the Annual Account back to the parliament in its original form, without Court of Audit’s amendments.

In all fairness and slightly OT, two things should be said: One, that such creative accounting techniques were employed before as well, always to Court’s dismay. And two, that the Court issued a qualification for 2007 Annual Account, meaning that it gave it a passing mark, but only barely, with instructions how to rectify all the mistakes. But it must also be said that this was the first time when creative accounting was used to display a surplus (to be spent), whereas every other time the numbers were cooked to lower the deficit (to be repaid). In other words, before 2007 the government was minimising its outstanding debt, whereas in 2007 it was creating imaginary money.

Back to the matter at hand. Janez Janša fucked The Quartet by withdrawing support for a key foreign-relations vote just when Slovenia desperately needs to come off as a credible country which does indeed have a beef with Croatia, but will not act irresponsibly when matter of international security are on the table. Remember, that was the same Janez Janša who held the EU presidency only seven months ago and who ran the government as little as two months ago. But now he seems to be concerned only with protecting his record and public image. Last time around he sued people who said that he didn’t do an exactly brilliant job. Since suing the Republic of Slovenia would probably be a bit too much even for him, he rather took his buddy Croatian PM Ivo Sanader a hostage and is now blackmailing the coalition into approving the obviously imaginary surplus.

If I cooked up the numbers in The Firm™, I’d have the Tax Admin all over me in an instant, carrying a hefty fine and possibly jail time. If former PM cooks up the numbers, he gets to hold a press conference and say that the Court of Audit doesn’t know its maths.

And since in politics 1 plus 1 does not necessarily equal 2, the Parliament will any day now vote on and approve the 2007 Annual Account which states that a) Slovenia sported a surplus on 31 December 2007 and b) that the Court of Audit does not know its maths. As a side efect, however, PM Pahor’s idealistic notions of bi-partisanship in Slovene politics took a serious beating. Whether this constitutes a reality check or just a “minor setback” however remains to be seen.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

7 thoughts on “Hostage Situation”

  1. Unless JJ’s bluff is called and they again reject the Annual Account or – better yet (is this possible, I haven’t kept up) – accept a modified one. Let’s wait and see. It ain’t over till it’s over.

  2. They won’t, I’m afraid… From Pahor’s point of view there’s too much at stake to risk a punishment expedition. If Pahor is even capable of such a thing…

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